Recently I was reading a thread in one of the Facebook author groups I belong to. I love those groups, folks are wonderful! But there was another posting from a blog that made me wonder about some of our Indie authors. The blog post was a polite rant that namelessly exposed some Indie authors as being rude to others. It said they were rude to reviewers, blog owners, other authors, and the like.
This surprisingly didn't shock me. I, despite my polite nature, was the victim of an Indie author's nasty dislike of me. All I had done was introduce myself on a FB page, and state that I was new to the genre. Wow, he opened up on me like an M-2 .50 cal machine gun! Not cool! And the guy didn't even know me. Hmm, wonder what he's like on a first date?
Was I mad? Very. Did I lash back at him? In a way, yes. But I chose polite words over hateful ones, and brought my 20+ years of writing to the table and some of the awards I'd won. Personally, I'm not one to toot my own horn, but sometimes in this game you have to- just to shut people up. In the end, it worked, and he backed down and apologized for being so rash. Well, why did you have to be so rash in the first place? The world is full of assholes- we all have one- but there's really no need to truly act like one.
Yes, we are all Indie authors, each fighting for that little piece of the pot we call our royalties. Do we compete against each other? Sometimes. But I've discovered it's far better to ally yourself with other authors than to alienate yourself and think they are out to steal your sales. The old adage of getting more with sugar than vinegar is very true. So why does this work?
1. An Indie author is basically a nobody until somebody recognizes you. Just accept that! God may have blessed us with certain talents, but that doesn't mean you're anything important. There are millions of writers, deal with it. Our mission is to rise above the others, to be the cream on top of the milk. The last time I checked, assholes only rise to the top when a body is floating face down in a pool.
2. To get recognized, you need to meet people. No living in a cave and beating on your chest hoping that readers will flock to your new work. Sorry, you gotta get out there in one way or another. Face-time and social networking are a must. I live in the middle of nowhere and still manage it.
3. Meeting people requires certain "social graces." Would you trash talk to your mother or father? Oh, if you did, I'm sure they'd smack you silly for it. Be polite to folks!
4. Get off your high horse. OK, I may ride a large horse, but he has nothing to do with my writing- he just eats my profits! Humility is a beautiful thing, don't be afraid to take a nice long bath in it. And it does wonder for your skin!
5. Embrace everyone as a potential sale. Even other authors can be your customers- and they are VERY valuable customers at that! If they like your work, they might just tell their fans- voila!
6. Don't burn ANY bridge. You never know when you may need some help and if you've pissed someone off, they will surely leave you hanging in the breeze.
7. Deal with the fact this is hard work. We all want our stories to be perfect and our reviews to be as well. Uh, got news for you- all of that requires WORK! You can't just sit back, bang out a story, and think it will be a bestseller. No, you need editing, proofing, formatting, and a good cover to make a book work. Unless you intend on paying for all this (and most of us Indies can't) then you will need to enlist friends, family members, and fellow authors to help you. Yeah, putting out a book sometimes requires an army.
8. Deal with feedback. Don't think your writing is perfect. Give it to your peers and let them decide. If your peers say something sucks, well, don't pout about it- fix it! 99% of the time, they will be right. And their input could be what it takes to make your book a bestseller.
9. Love your fans- all of them, even the geeky, creepy ones. You never know if one of them holds the magic key to sending your career over the moon. Treat them well, give them goodies, and keep them happy- they will buy your books, tell their friends, and hopefully write you good reviews.
10. Don't let a bad review ruin your world. We all get them- somewhere there's a cranky reader that no matter what they read, they will say it sucks. Personally, I think they should just quit reading! But if you get a 1 or 2 star review, read it. Then decide if there's something worthwhile in that review to help you- did the reviewer give specific points that they did not like? If so, great, food for thought. If they just said the book sucks, ignore the review- they weren't polite enough to say their real mind. Someone needs to give them a glass of happy juice.
11. Lastly, don't be a jerk to blog owners. You don't know if that guest post you just turned down might have been read by someone really important who would look up your work, and think you're the greatest author in the world. This kind of goes back to not burning your bridges. ANY opportunity you get for a free promotion- GRACIOUSLY take it! It may require some work on your part, but the outcome could be 10x greater than the effort you expended.
As Indie authors, we need to look at everyone as a food source. No, I'm not talking Zombie apocalypse and eating their brains, I'm talking about everyone in the world is a potential customer, a potential source of PR. Be polite and do everything you can to keep them happy- or they may hunt you down and eat your brains! How did I get on the subject of Zombies?!
Just don't bite the hand that feeds you.
Until next time my creatively obsessed friends,
I wuv my mummy!