The lovely Johanna Harness recently pointed me to a blog post by author Stacia Kane who talks about how being published changes everything. It’s a very interesting read and I suggest you check it out, but it got me wondering if the same concerns apply to self published authors as much as they do traditional ones.
Stacia talks about how if someone has posted a negative review about one of her books and her agent went on to sign that person, she would be hurt and upset and less likely to contribute a comment for their book or help them in other ways. I can understand that and although everyone’s entitled to an opinion, if you’re looking to get signed by an agent, perhaps you need to keep those opinions under wraps.
When it comes to someone who is self publishing, I’m not sure it’s as necessary. That’s NOT to say you should be going around giving nasty reviews. Not at all, even if you hated the book. As previously discussed, you should be able to point out the good stuff along with the constructive criticisms.
While no one wants to make enemies, I think it’s important to be honest if you’re going to review. I very much dislike the trend I hear going on in self publishing circles about some authors and friends giving nothing but five star reviews, even if they haven’t read the book, just for the marketing/publicity of it all (I will blog more about this in detail at a later date). What happens when someone buys the book and sees it’s not even close to 5 star material? That’s disappointing and a turn off and they may very well not purchase anymore books from that author.
In the world of self publishing, where authors lack agents, and often editors, to tell them if things should be cut or rearranged, etc., I think reviews by other writers are helpful. We obviously know what goes into the process of writing and publishing a book and personally, I’d rather bring something up that will help the author better hone their craft, then pretend everything about the book was fab. Might this make me some enemies? Maybe. Might it make people take my words the wrong way? It’s possible. Might it get used against me in the future? Who knows, but I would rather be known for my honesty and if that’s going to come back and bite me in the ass, so be it.
With Twitter and Facebook and all the other social networking sites where we’re building our fan bases, I certainly think you ought to be cautious with the things you say. You don’t want to come off as unprofessional or nasty in anyway, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be yourself. I know I mention her often, but author Hannah Moskowitz always comes off as very real to me in her blog posts and Twitter feed. I also follow her reviews on Goodreads and she’s honest there too. I respect that.
As posted before, you can’t please everyone all of the time. Even if you’re being honest and “nice” about things, there are still going to be people who won’t like you, who don’t agree and who may come back and argue with you over things. People are different and have different opinions. It’s bound to happen, but remember there are times when it’s better if you bite your tongue (or tie up your fingers as we’re not normally speaking out loud to these folks) or step away from the conversation completely. While you have a right to your opinions you need to remember that you are also trying to network and make connections and you need to be professional while doing so. Sometimes it’s just not worth the possible backlash.
It’s said that even bad publicity is good publicity, but do you really want to be known as the nasty unprofessional author? Probably not. I don’t really think that will help you sell books or endear you to your fellow authors. Make sure you stop down and use your brain; use common sense and think before hitting that send or publish post button. Remember things linger on the internet and could come back to haunt you.