Thursday, March 29, 2012

Six Lessons I've Learned

I went indie in August, and since then I've learned a lot of stuff. Much of it I had to learn from experience and making mistakes because I didn't have a publisher to turn to for questions. I've gotten into my fair share of so-called trouble, and here's a rundown of lessons that I've learned both from my experiences as an author and as a book reviewer.

1. Don't reply to attack emails, regardless of whether they're aimed at you, one of your works or a combination. No matter your reply, you're most likely not going to persuade the sender to see your perspective or to think you're a good person. You'll only fan the flames. Even a simple "Thank you for your feedback" reply could get you another attack followup like: "That's all you have to say? You're disgusting." Just don't reply.

2. Don't comment on reviews of your own books. Get someone else to comment for you under his/her own name. (I learned this from both sides of the equation, once when I personally contacted a reviewer to explain the reasoning behind certain issues and then once again with another book when I commented to say YES my book was edited, not just proofread, on a one-star review that put forward as fact that my book wasn't edited. On the other side of the equation, I learned the lesson again on a four-star review I wrote on which the book's author posted unkind comments about me and the review.)

**OPTIONAL** Don't read reviews of your own books. This is a personal choice for each author to make, but I haven't read any of my reviews in a few months, and I'm happier for it.

3. Don't trust just anyone; never badmouth anyone to someone you do not 150 percent trust. Sad to say, some people will turn on you quickly and blab to other people that you said so and so author needs to work on so and so areas. And they'll make it sound ten times worse than what you said. Keep your cool. Avoid saying anything negative at all if possible unless you really, really trust someone.

4. If you're successful, even moderately, and by whatever metric(s) (books sold, free books downloaded, income generated, etc.) some people (a minority, thankfully) will be jealous. And they can turn passive aggressive. Be prepared. You've gotta have a thick skin.

5. Be careful of offering unsolicited advice. For example, you see a blurb that needs tweaking? You're probably better off not contacting the author unless you know your advice will be received in the good faith you intend it.

6. Write. Write. Write. Write some more. This helps you avoid more drama and keeps you out of trouble. ;-)


Suggestions from readers:

1. (from author Devon Marshall): Take regular breaks away from social media. Otherwise, all the drama will become a giant time-suck to your writing, not to mention your head may feel like it's about to explode! I agree 100%!

2. (from a reader, Trish): Don't say anything about anybody that you wouldn't say to that person personally.
I agree this is a good general rule (I wish the people writing attack emails about my works would follow this), but there are times ya just gotta vent. Nothing wrong with that. Pick your ventees very wisely, though. You might have to stick to only your spouse.

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