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What Does Your Author Image Say About You? #HaleNo Blog Train

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What does your author image say about you?

My dear author, there has been a lot of discussion about your image online lately. Recently, in direct response to Kathleen Hale’s essay accounting her reaction to one reader’s critique of her book, bloggers participated in a #BloggerBlackOut* last month to show their outrage at Hale’s behavior. Blythe, the blogger who was stalked, is no longer blogging or reviewing publicly due to this event. I know how she feels, several times I have almost quit all participation in the indie book publishing world because of authors losing it online in attacks on me, or reporting I was a troll for reviewing their book critically (that was a three star review, by the way). If you have not read about this event yet Hale, an author negatively obsessed with the reactions and commentary of a reader (Blythe) to her book, stalked Blythe for almost a year. A YEAR, how is this in anyway OK!?

What does this have to do with you, dear author? Probably a lot! I bet there have been times when you have read a review of yours and were upset, possibly even posting a tweet or a status update about it. Even with all these things, all of the incidents being reported on, I have faith in you to be a responsible member of the human race. I know you aren’t one of those indie authors who gives every indie author a bad name, right?. Sure, I realize this behavior is not just being done by indies, but those big names? They have people who field their presence and also attempt to fix their behavior in the public eye. This is not about the Stephen Kings of the world, this is about you.

It is your responsibility to behave like you would if you were standing in the middle of a public place. Dear author, take a deep breath, remember you wouldn’t show your ass in the middle of Walmart (ok well, bad example, but you get where I am going).  By choosing to be in this industry, dear author, you have made an implied statement that you will be responsible for your actions. Especially if you are an indie, because each indie author represents all indie authors as a collective when you come face to face with your reader. Best advice? Smile, thank them at most, turn around and let it go! (yep, it never gets old, dear author, channel your inner Disney character)

You’re in the spotlight now, no matter how small or large your readership is (or want it to be), you have a responsibility. Everything you say online will be scrutinized, from your political beliefs to your insipid insistence of posting photos of goats all the time (what? #nohaters), you are all under a social media microscope. Don’t even think that your emails, your Twitter, or even your private Facebook page is a safe-zone, because they aren’t. The minute you stepped into the mix and decided to publish, you lost the privilege of pissing, moaning and stomping your feet in a irresponsible, reactionary manner  where folks can see your ass.

Not one ounce of this behavior is OK. There is not one justification for behaving like a schmuck or threatening someone’s health, reputation, or their right to feel safe in their own home. Stop saying, “Ya but, all I did was comment and let them know they didn’t get my book“, guess what? You don’t have that luxury. You want to discuss it in what should be a safezone, such as in the privacy of your living room? Make sure no one is instagram-videoing your commentary or tweeting what you say. Yep, that child of yours may think he is clever, just watch out! My son has done it to me on more than one occasion. The minute you open your mouth or let your fingers fly at 120 wpm on the keyboard …you had better be OK with it, because once you put it out there, even deleting it won’t be enough.

screaming-womanWhile I believe that shutting down authors on your blog ruins the process and I supported the #BloggerBlackOut moment, I don’t think it is right to punish all because of the actions of one bent individual. You need to find a balance. The behavior is not just on authors, but on all of us who have online personas. I don’t care if your name is not real, it really is not the point. You are responsible for your own actions. Bloggers tend to have more flexibility because of their perceived power, not that this is OK either. Authors? You want people to buy your book? Dudes, stop being numskulls! Remember what your mother said?

Yep, I am telling you to be a bit Machiavellian with your social media. You are, after all, selling a brand…….you. Your book comes with that brand but it is not the brand. Do you want to be one of the 100K Chicken Soup for the Soul books? Or a snarky urban fantasy author who knows how to write about geeks and who posts awesome updates about their Magic Game on #FNM that week? Think about what I am saying before rolling your eyes. Would you support someone who, by their actions online, are perceived as a lunatic who will hunt you down and hit you over the head with a bottle of wine when you are trying to get some cereal for the house?

Tiara HarveyEveryone, let’s take a moment to appreciate the fact that this author found Paige’s address from WP, traveled to where she lived, and attacked her. JUST FOR THIS REVIEW SHE WROTE.  Goodreads member Tiara H. (in respondent on the The World Rose review by Paige Rollands)

** as of this, the reviewer has taken all but her tumblr down because she still is having issues**

Having been the target of attack, more than once from authors as recently as August and September, I know how damaging it is. The #HaleYes supporters say this is bullying, though I call it bullshit.

Sometimes the reviews are nasty and it seems like they are attacking you. Before you respond, ask yourself this: how do you feel when you see someone online complaining about anything loudly? You probably want to walk up and smack them and tell them to chill out! I feel the same way when I see an author complaining about the one star review,or any star they just got! Before you assume, I do feel bad when I see an author get a bad review, especially when I know them or I have read the book. But hey, reviews are subjective and you cannot write for everyone. But, I know that if I respond to said author, or even go crazy on social media as a rabid supporter, I will look like an asshole too.

It is pretty sad when reviewers, like myself, buy a book and find it not their thing, write a critical review and have the author lose their mind because they were feeling butthurt over the whole thing. If you see someone going on and on about your book and how much it sucks and want to get folks to buy and read your book? Walk away, hold your head up high, and let it go. Dear author, I promise, those reviews are not for you. Just…

Oh, and if they create a parody about your book for any reason, smile, they have invested time to make a statement. You inspired them to hate, that takes power.. remember, be Machiavellian … good or bad, it can work for you. It (again with the repetition, Kriss) is up to you to make it work, dear author.

HaleNoGoats

One other thing, publishing online is publishing. It is subject to libel law, so be careful. Reviews are “fair comment”. The attacks are not. You cannot attack people or authors in a review because that is not a review of the work, but rather the person. That is not covered and you can be held accountable… legally. Think twice. I have two orders of protection against two Goodreaders who attacked me online, in the mail (they found my address) and broke the law. All of us need to learn to not take things so personally. Do you really want me to post another gif?? Didn’t think so!

I challenge you, respond on your blog, publicly on Facebook, or on twitter even! Post a link to your response in the linky and remember… your ass is showing so make sure you’re wearing clean underwear!

HaleNoBlogTrain


*#BloggerBlackOut for the record, I did not participate only because I had a bunch of schedule posts for authors who behave well and do not seek me out in the woods and leave my body for the squirrels to eat.

13 Comments

  1. I totally agree with you! No sense in arguing with a critic. I say meh, and move on. Besides, who really ends up looking bad if you start a verbal passing contest? You’re awesome, Kris!!!

  2. Kriss, this is well said and I agree. Indeed, it is best to just let it go and not to stoop to their level. Business is business, and we can’t take everything so personally. Authors, even those starting out, are still in the public eye, and we should be good role models of decent behavior. Thanks for the advice!

  3. Very well stated. When responding, one has to ask themself, “Who or what are you representing? Is this how you want to be remembered?”

  4. Good for you for posting this, Kriss.

    I just don’t understand why authors don’t get this. You just have to realize you’re a public person — which means presenting a public face every time you get online.

    The linky’s not showing me options…but I did blog about the Hale fiasco. Here’s the link: http://hearth-myth.blogspot.com/2014/10/catfish-anyone.html

  5. Well written, this is a great point. Remember your ass is showing. Its important for everyone to remember that there are laws and socially accempted boundaries in place for a reason.

    • I like that, Pavarti. “Your ass is showing.” Excellent post, Kriss. Authors forget they are business people and forget that the Internet lives on, forever.

  6. Thanks for sharing Kriss. Spot on. I wish authors (and others) would realize that everyone is watching their behaviour when they go over the edge. It’s like watching a train wreck – you can’t turn away…

    Barb

  7. Kriss, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry while reading your post (okay, I was giggling due to your superb graphics). Your comments are spot on. I can only hope the more emotional authors will print out your essay, slap in on the side of the computer, and reread diligently if they ever suffer the urge to argue the merits of a reviewer’s thoughts. As authors, we need an honest review system–and we certainly need book bloggers gracious enough to take hours to read and review our books. No matter the number of stars awarded, we should thank our lucky stars each time a review appears.

  8. Excellent post, Kriss. Coming from a book blogger perspective, I can see how truly awful you’ve been treated by authors who should fucking know better. where in the heck are their manners? I just don’t get it at all.

    And as you say, everyone is watching, no matter if their ‘everyone’ is 10 people or 10,000. Maybe these whiners feel justified and that’s the reason they end up shouting their defiance to the world. Fine. They just need to remember it’s public and there’s no delete key.

    Well, there IS a delete key, but once that ass is showing, we cannot unsee that. Kudos to you, missy.

  9. This is such a great post. People also forget that once it’s on the internet, it’s forever. If you delete it, it might be cached. If you delete it, someone probably already got a screenshot anyway and will repost it. So there is really no such thing as delete.

  10. Nice post–and fun giffys. I’ve got to do me a post like that some day! And the message is powerful. Sounds like you speak from personal experience and have had to take action. And I’m sorry Blythe has now had to stop something she enjoyed or has had to go incognito.

  11. Even if you are NOT published you are still scrutinized. Kriss knows this because she’s mentored me and led me through a few precursor hoops. People will hate on you because you watch something they can’t stand on TV. It’s human nature, but what is going on is the reaction that shouldn’t happen. Human beings have a chance to “RESPOND” rather than “REACT” which is why i’m reiterating everything Kriss is saying. It doesn’t matter if you’re an author or a blogger, a prospective employer can still find you posting goats!

  12. Excellent post! I couldn’t agree more. I make it a point to thank every positive review because I genuinely appreciate the time they took to not only read, but also write a thoughtful review. And there’s no better feeling when a reader “gets” your book. I never, EVER, respond to a negative review. If my book didn’t work for them, that’s ok. That’s life.
    Bloggers are absolutely vital to the success of authors and their books. No one pays bloggers to read books, no one pays them to take the time to review a book, and many bloggers do interviews, cover reveals and other things like that for free as well. I’m sorry for Blythe, but I’m happy that it’s been brought to life and this will be (hopefully) be the last time something like this happens.

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