Sunday, November 27, 2011

Author Etiquette Rule 2

First, good news!  I am happy to announce to my fellow ROWers, I have finished Nikka's story line in Aeris.  Yay!  I'm at 132,500ish words.  It feels so good to have that chunk of the book done (except for a few things I'll be editing in) and now I'm onto Luka's story line.  I'm kind of avoiding Zyander right now, hahaha.

I still think the final word count will be close to 170,000 words, but I'm hopeful to get the rest of the book done this month, unless my kids keep getting sick and depriving me of sleep, that is.  New Baby had the croup earlier on in the week, which was kind of scary because I've handled BAD asthma before, when I was a nanny, but never croup and all I know about it I read from Anne of Green Gables.  So I had to put in a call to the doc, and I've had two sick children keeping me up all night, basically with no break or naps all week long.  Needless to say, my writing has suffered.  I have higher hopes for next week.

On to the next segment of author etiquette: Author Response.  For this section, I want to talk about reviews.  We live in a small online world.  Because of the ease of access, it is simple to get keep records on everything said or commented in this world.  It's important to remember that as an author, because sometimes our emotions lead us down paths that we don't plan for.  Here are the examples I can think of off the top of my head:
1) Commenting on reviews for your book.
2) Commenting on reviews for other books.
3) Commenting on blogs.

Let's start with number one.  Everyone gets a scathing review at least once.  If you haven't gotten one yet, you will eventually.  It's a no-brainer.  It may not be a one star review, but someone is definitely going to rake you over the coals and make your skin sting.  That being said, no matter WHAT someone may say about your book, it's probably not the best idea to comment on it in a negative way.  First, it makes you look petty and insecure and second, it's just not professional.
There is also the case of commenting on a good review.  I know there are a lot of authors out there who thank readers for their review.  That is certainly an individual's prerogative, but again, I recommend not, simply because again, it looks petty, especially if you only say thanks for the good ones. :)  Not that we're not all tempted, of course!
Imagine it from the reader's perspective for a minute.  If you have something to say about a book, and it's personal opinion, how safe would you feel giving that opinion, if you feel like you can't be honest?  Places like goodreads are supposed to be a safe space for readers to come and talk about what they're reading, whether they like a book or not.  If the dialogue becomes about "shaming" the reader into always being nice, then why are we even there?  Goodreads isn't about everyone having the same opinion about something.  For instance, one of the reviewers I respect the MOST on goodreads has a completely different opinion on the book Evermore than I do.  That is OKAY.  And hopefully, the author of that book realizes that my 5 star review is just as valid as her one star review.  My reasons for liking it are as different as her reasons for hating it.  Again, that is OKAY. :)

This leads me to topic #2, commenting on OTHER author's book reviews.  Recently, I came across some goodreads drama, when another of my favorite reviewers, lambasted a book that to be honest I've never read.  Another author among the goodreads clan (an indie) took it upon herself to take this reviewer to task on her style of reviewing.  Needless to say, this is just as bad as arguing with a review of one of your own books.  This author was openly challenged and derided for trying to stifle free speech on goodreads.  Not the best way to get attention, let me just say.  Respectful debate is always welcomed, but I think that your best bet is to keep a professional tone and not get pulled into making explosive statements which let me assure you WILL come back to bite you.

In the third example, I point you to blogs like JA Konrath, The Sparkle Project, and Drenched in Words, where one author after another says things about readers, reviewers and sites that would make most readers cringe.  Authors, we love your books, but sometimes we don't.  Please don't hate us forever because we can't like everything or make everyone happy.  And certainly don't say something like this: "Goodreads continues to make me miserable almost daily. I can't go a week without checking to see how far my rating has slipped. Then I go and check out the one and two star reviews to see what nasty things people have to say about me. Then I go and try to determine why a person who is supposedly my friend gave me four stars when they should obviously give me five. Are they just pretending to like me? Then I try to hunt down people who gave my book 5 stars and see whether they just do it for everyone. Then I curse people who gave my book a bad rating and yet say they didn't finish it. Then I compare readers' ratings for other books to mine to see what books they liked more than mine. Then I perform scientific experiments to see how long I can remain on Goodreads before the vein on the side of my head starts to turn blue. "

There are many things I could say about the above paragraph, and some of them will be for a later addition, but for now, I will simply say, saying you hate goodreads is like saying you hate readers.  It's a site MADE for readers.  Readers are what keep you in business.  Let's all try to remember that as we go forward.

Happy Reading!
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