Another day, another drama. I genuinely would love to hear the perspective of the villain in all these scenarios. (Honestly, they're more fun to write than the heroes, anyway.)
I also want to know how/why these things keep happening.
The latest cancer charity/signing scam, for instance. How is it possible people didn't know the accused had been doing this exact thing for years? I first heard about it in 2016. I was told to avoid this author like the plague because she was running fraudulent charity auctions left and right, stealing thousands of dollars from both readers and the families she purported to support.
How did so few people know this information that she was able to then move onto scamming more authors and readers through signings? Had she not yet stolen enough money to be charged? Did the readers and families she stole from think if they kept quiet, the problem would just go away?
I have so many questions.
On top of that list is: did she really think she would get away with it?
I suppose the obvious answer is yes. She has been getting away with it for years after all.
In the above case, I don't think anyone (even the accused) could argue she didn't know what she's doing is wrong. Rarely, some things are so black and white that there is no room for perceptual judgment. This is one of those cases.
Most of life is in the gray, however, and many people who misstep in book world might genuinely not realize what they're doing is wrong and/or frowned upon.
(I'm sure some would point out this blog post as a great example.)
Countless blogs and some very expensive paid "courses" basically advise new authors to sell their souls in exchange for the all powerful marketing.
"You can write the worst book in the world, but if you follow my 12-step program, you too, can make five figures per month!"
"You can write the best book in the world, but if no one knows it's there, no one will ever read it. Marketing is key."
See the difference in those two very true statements? One makes you want to cough up the dough to learn the secret formula. The other sounds like absolute crap. (This is, ironically, marketing.)
How is a green author supposed to know the difference between acceptable practice and the hustle?
Let's move onto that.
In the past five years of being an "author" (not trademarked, no accreditation, don't take my word for it, blah blah blah), I've learned some shit---by example, by making mistakes, through common sense, etc.
Without further ado: STOP DOING THESE THINGS.
I don't care who told you to do it. I don't care if you've gotten a bite once from casting your line fifty times. These unscrupulous tactics make all authors look bad.
~Don't spam your entire contact list on any social media platform with buy links. No one falls for that. Most importantly, you make yourself look like a desperate ass. People will write you off, and you will go nowhere.
~Similarly, don't friend request someone, then immediately flood them with spam for your books and/or non-bookish related direct sales products. You'll be unfriended in a heartbeat.
~I woke up this morning to a brand new one, and I'm actually going to show you the screen shot because it was just so damn peculiar to me. I really want to know if this has worked out for anyone so far.
A couple things to point out here:
1. Yes, I blocked out the name and website. I'm not going to give her the attention she so craves.
2. Pending questions are not public, so if she was trying to take advantage of getting her website in front of my followers' eyeballs, FAIL.
3. It was easy enough to go through her extensive GR shelves to see if she'd actually read the books. She had not.
4. If you want people to take you seriously as a writer, at least take the time and effort to make sure your "question" is somewhat intelligible. Other than asking me to read your book via blog, the first empty compliment reads like gibberish. I'm flattered you're in love with me, but I'm married, so no thanks.
5. Congratulations! You've now been blocked, and your question deleted without a response!
~On the rare occasions an author publicly asks for legit reading recommendations, don't respond with your book. Just...don't. It's so gross. Again, you look desperate and the chances of said author actually reading you? Almost zero.
~Don't be a fake fangirl. Most authors who've been around the block a time or two can spot a fraud a mile away. If you're only excited about our work to get us to notice yours, chances are you're going to be disappointed.
~Along the same lines as above, don't---I mean, DO NOT---blackmail an author into reading for you by confessing you're worried you've plagiarized their books because you're "just such a huge fan." Certainly do not fucking turn around and invite them to your release party for said book and any subsequent books. Because guess what? You've been blacklisted. Bye, Felicia. (I still to this day wonder if she contacted Tijan---whom she also claimed to have accidentally plagiarized---to ask her to beta read her book that 100% contained plagiarized passages from mine. Somehow, I doubt it.)
~Don't set up a GoFundMe account to furnish your publishing expenses. Some unscrupulous authors are actually advising new writers to do this, and the only reason I can surmise is that they're trying to cull the competition by giving them bad advice. Again, this makes you (the new writer) look desperate and unprofessional. If you can't afford publishing now, then save up until you can. Spoiler alert: it's not cheap.
~Don't be a succubus. Eventually, you're going to reap what you sow, and when you really need something, no one will be around. If you can't give help as often as you receive it, then stop asking others for what you're unwilling to do for them. We're all busy. Your time and work are not more important than anyone else's.
~Don't spam other authors' groups. I'm shocked how much I still see this. Most FB closed groups have a set of rules. 99% of them state they are not open for promo. Don't sneak a post in, hoping a reader is going to see it and purchase from you before an admin deletes it. That's a good way to make enemies.
~Don't assume the people you love to gossip with aren't also talking about you behind your back. I 1000000% guarantee they are. Gird your trust (but not your loins because this is Romancelandia after all, and we gotta get something out of this rat race, am I right?).
~Don't weigh in on the latest hot topic in the romance publishing world which you know nothing about just to get your name out there and make your opinion known. Nine times out of ten, you'll only wind up looking like an idiot. You definitely don't want your name to be associated with that.
~Don't play the competition game. I know, I know. This one is so hard, but just don't do it. It'll suck the joy right out of your soul. Keep doing you, going about this business the right way, and eventually, you'll find not only your readers but also your tribe of fellow authors. Eventually. Don't get me wrong, it may not happen overnight. Or even in a year. Or five. You get my point.
~Don't believe everything you're told. (This blog post, for instance. Maybe I'm making it all up. Maybe I just have a really bad case of writer's block and needed to write something, anything, okay???) No, but seriously. This is how rumors ignite, then catch fire. If you don't know the truth for yourself, let the embers die out.
~Don't keep pursuing a professional relationship that's going nowhere. This mostly pertains to befriending other authors. No response is absolutely a response. If you've done everything you can (the right way; not the desperate way), and the other person still won't engage beyond surface pleasantries like "How's the weather?" then let it go. There will be others who will welcome your friendship. A closed door is just an opportunity to explore a new hallway.
~Don't offer a blurb for a book you haven't read just to play the quid pro quo game. I can't believe how much people fall for this. If an English teacher assigned a one-line summary of a book to prove it was actually read, most of these authors would fail. It's obvious they didn't read a single chapter. Anyone can say it was an "attention-grabbing, fast-paced, heart-wrenching read that tops my list for 2019...like, for sure! Grab your tissues for this one!" Notice the lack of detail about actual characters or plot. This is an empty statement, meant for marketing purposes and nothing else. It actually makes me really sad authors willingly pull the wool over readers' eyes like this. Even sadder when the "big name" authors do it, probably thinking they're helping the "little fish." Uh...I don't particularly enjoy being lied to. Do you?
~Don't do things to appease the marketing gods, hoping they'll rain Benjamins down on you if those things do not also make you happy. Happiness is an emotion, not a thing. It cannot be bought. Interacting with readers in person gives you hives? Don't do signings. Spending hours on social media to interact with readers from beneath the blanket fort in the comfort of your own home takes too much time away from writing? Cut back. You're going to run out of readers to interact with if you don't produce new material at some point. You can't write two books per month? So, don't. Concentrate on making your current WIP the best it can be.
~Don't confuse being a fan with being a friend. The levels of entitlement that abound on the internet astound me. Authors have lives apart from writing your favorite books. I, personally, have three kids who are in a million activities, a husband who constantly travels for work, and way too much laundry. If I don't respond to your message immediately, that doesn't mean I'm not grateful for your support. It just means I don't sit at the damn computer every fucking second of my life, okay? Sometimes (and this is shocking, I know), I even have to shower! While I'm flattered you picked my books to read out of all the millions you could have chosen, messaging me ten times per day just to talk can be kind of creepy. Thank you for your kind words, but I don't know you. Just like you don't know me. Have you ever read/watched Misery? It's a scary world out there. I have a family to protect. I cannot offer you psychological advice because I wrote a book about a character who majored in psychology. I'm a writer, not a therapist. Please try to put yourself in the author's shoes. We get hundreds of messages and emails every day. We can't respond to them all. We can't be BFFs with everyone. It's exhausting.
~Don't forget this amazing quote from the Incredibles: "When everyone is Super, no one will be." All those expensive writing/marketing courses? What happens when everyone is employing the same plan? It's great to constantly learn new things about your craft, but if you can't afford the retreats or online webinars, don't sweat it. Almost ALL of that information can be found on the internet for free. All you have to do is make the time and effort to find it. Besides, I'm always leery of people who become millionaires by telling other underlings how to be successful doing the same exact thing they did. You're not them, are you? That's kind of awesome.
I was going to end this with something witty or ... something. But, I'm tired, and I have a book to write. So, go forth and don't be a dick today!