Wednesday, January 21, 2015
#WWoW!: Don't Bully Your Peers! #ethics #MyWANA
This week has been another filled with eye-openers. Not only did I witness one of my author friends be dragged into another's fight with Goodreads, one more decided to take it upon himself to wage war with a few of us who declined to download his book and review it. Nothing like being accused of not being a team player because I exercised my right to choose my own reading material.
If you've spent any time online over the last few years you've undoubtedly run across several posts about authors behaving badly. I've written a few of them myself. It's time to take a good, hard look at the whole world of publishing: from readers and reviewers, to authors, to publishers and start holding everyone to a higher standard.
First rule: STOP BULLYING EACH OTHER!
I don't care if it's reader vs. author or author vs. author. Just. Stop. There is no reason for it. If one side wants to troll another, there is no point in getting yourself in the middle of it. All it will do is escalate and cause both sides to target YOU.
Readers have a right to read what they want and post their opinion about the books they do read without fearing an author is going to bombard the review or demand it be pulled because it wasn't a glowing 5 stars. If you put your book out for sale (or for free), you hope more people like it than don't but you can't stack the likes in your favor.
It may not be illegal or against the rules to do review swaps or campaign for people to vote for your books on the Goodreads lists, or in other popularity contests, but it's not altogether ethical either. It's shady at best and frankly, leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Did I try it out myself? Yes and that's how I found out it didn't make me feel good doing it. I won't participate in those sorts of things in the author support groups I'm in. They don't feel right for ME.
Imagine my surprise when a member from one of those groups sent me a private message asking me to download his book that was currently for free, read and review it. I was shocked because there are daily posts in the group we are in for this sort of thing. If you participate in that thread, that means you feel comfortable doing those sorts of reciprocal tasks. It's been mentioned time and time again to NOT private message group members to solicit help. Unfortunately, this person didn't think those rules applied to him.
When I replied I didn't do that sort of thing and why I didn't participate in the threads in the group, he seemed to take the refusal in stride but then asked me to still download the book to help boost his rankings.
He wasn't happy with the response he was or wasn't getting WITHIN the threads in the group. He continued to harass members in private. He doesn't see anything wrong with this and feels we should do as he asks in order to be team players. I'm sorry, but the only team I'm on is Team Tammy. I have to watch out for myself, and my brand as an author...times four. I'm not under any obligation to promote anyone else simply because I'm FB friends with them or belong to the same author support group.
I did that for a long time and it got me nowhere. I shared and shared for others but when it came down to them reciprocating for me...crickets. Crickets and excuses. I changed groups to those I thought offered a wide variety of things so I didn't feel as if I was forced to do things against my own principles. Now this.
I didn't receive the biggest part of his wrath. He's attacked another of my author friends and has threatened to "make her pay" for not being a team player. He's now claiming SHE "victimized" him in this whole thing. He feels victimized because someone had the balls to tell him NO.
Yes you read that right. Victimized.
Second Rule: Be Gracious and Don't Take the Bait
This is the hardest rule to follow especially if you're on the receiving end of an attack. Whether you're a reviewer/blogger or an author, it's hard to keep quiet when someone rallies their friends to attack you and your work. What's put out on the Web is there forever even if you delete it. Damage control isn't easy and can take a long time for you to bounce back.
Mean Girls/Guys, Trolls, Bullies—whatever label you wish to put on them get their power from you. I'm not saying don't stick up for yourself, but do so with class. Don't stoop to their level of threats and bring in your posse to "make them pay." At that point, you're no better than they are. Have I had similar thoughts about getting "even" with people? Yep...in private. I turn those thoughts into scenes for my books. Safer that way for everyone concerned. :)
This is another area where authors have convinced other authors to help them fight back against people who they feel are treating them poorly. The instance I mentioned at the beginning of the post is one that comes to mind. One author asked my friend to help with an issue she had in her dealings with Goodreads. My friend is always willing to help so she thought she would give a 5 star rating to the other's book to help offset the many 1 stars it had garnished.
What my friend didn't know and what the other author neglected to tell her was there had already been a huge battle playing out in the Goodreads threads and much of it the fault of the author. So by supporting someone she thought was her peer, my friend ended up in the cross hairs of some very angry people...those who couldn't understand why she gave such a high rating to this person.
The outcome for my friend? She admitted she was duped by the other author and she's no longer on anyone's shit list. Read all about it HERE.
Third Rule: Target Your Audience NOT Your Peers
This really should be self-explanatory but time and time again I run across authors who just don't get it. Your peers are not the ones who will go out and buy your books. Sure some may turn into fans, but the vast majority of them are fighting the good fight right alongside you. We're all looking for new ways to get the word out about our books. Posting your buy links in AUTHOR support groups isn't going to bring you sales. Neither will posting on another person's page or Facebook wall without their permission.
What will? Connect with potential readers through social media by being yourself. Chat about other things and interests. Make readers WANT to learn more about you and your characters instead of forcing promo after promo down their throats.
Do NOT send private or direct messages to your peers telling them about your latest release and beg them to share with their friends and followers. Do NOT get all pissy when they tell you no. If you don't have the time to get to know them why on earth would they do you a "solid" and pretend to support you and your work?
You want REAL, LIVE readers to check out your work and leave reviews. Rankings achieved by playing the system and jumping through loopholes are hollow and mean nothing if you don't have fabulous stories to back them up. What makes this behavior any better than the "trolls" who comb the genres and drop 1 star bombs with reviews that attack the author personally? Both sides are manipulating the system and in the end negate their desired end results.
If it feels wrong to you, don't do it. Just because it looks successful on the outside doesn't mean it will work for you or make you feel good doing it.
Don't spam or target your peers. Make real connections with readers...your actual target audience.
Don't assume your peers are under any obligation to help you achieve your goals. If you want to get to the top of the rankings, you need to EARN it on your own merit, not on the "clicks" of others.
Readers/reviewers are NOT your enemy any more than we are theirs. It's time both sides do what they do best and treat each other with respect.
The publishing world is hard enough without all of the backstabbing and in fighting. Walk away from the drama and concentrate on what's most important: reading and writing!
Until next time,