This blog was inspired by a recent column on FB and author posts. I’ll be honest–I thought the author was a little too self-reverential at times, but the basic underpinnings were sound. In this blog post I’ll amplify some of his points:
Word count and editing:
I don’t think this is a hard full stop on either. I think the problem most folks have is that they do it all…the…time. To me, I liken it to telling your friends you’re on a trip. Telling someone every mile marker you pass between Los Angeles and Cleveland? Almost guaranteed to have someone arranging for the Hell’s Angels to meet you just north of Vegas. (“Just the phone and his fingers.” “Got it, got it. You just make sure that PayPal clears before then or we’ll be discussing a ransom payment.”)
On the other hand: “Hey, I just passed (beautiful landmark). Here’s why it was awesome…”? Much better, and it helps to build excitement about the trip.
Similarly, the blog author is right about some things are just baked into the writing cake. If you’re writing a book, guess what? You’re going to have to edit the damn thing. Not saying you can’t be pissed about it, but that’s what your _friend_ are for. Your fans? Well they’re probably wondering what’s taking you so damn long. By and large, I’d only mention editing to give a shout out to your editors (like the always helpful Mallie Rust for me) or relate a funny anecdote about a gaff you made. Like, you know, raising a minor character back from the dead after tragically electrocuting her previously.
*pause* Why would you think I was speaking from experience? I am nothing but peace and light to my characters. Now let’s move along before I catch fire.
You know how vaguebooking is annoying when your first cousin does it while talking about your favorite aunt/uncle’s health? Yeaaaahhh, unlike crazy Cousin Esther who you know is a drama queen, your readers come to expect you to clearly communicate information. In general, one should write their posts in a manner that someone who has never met you can understand 80% of what you’re talking about. (I would type 90%, but I have visions of at least two of my friends having a “orcas in the seal breeding grounds” field day with that.)
–Hating on other authors / genres
This pretty much falls under my “don’t be a jerk on the internet”-rule. You should not want to be a jerk just because that’s bad form. But, even if innate humanity doesn’t motivate you, reptilian survival sense should at least make you rethink a post that proceeds to rip on a fellow author or their work. No matter how successful you are today, that doesn’t guarantee success tomorrow. When you’re down and out, why let your spite cut you off from a potential avenue that may be the difference between paying your bills another month or not? To having that person who could, with a mere whisper of your name, improve your sales 300% remember you went ad hominem extremo in a FB group? You think authors who may have ridiculed J.K. Rowling once or twice are now silently wishing they were still on her good side? Best way to avoid that sinking feeling? Don’t go there in the first place.
Also a little survival tip you’ll hear me repeat over and over again: Friends come and go, but enemies accumulate. Given how internet flame wars spiral out of control, it’s not too hard to get to the point people remember your name for all the wrong reasons. Don’t pick fights nor let your friends pick them for you. You know who gets to pick fights with other authors without worry? Authors at the point where people will pay $50 for their grocery list because A. it would still be an excellent short story and / or B. you can probably summon something from an alternate dimension with it. Not that I’m thinking about anyone in particular…
I’ll put this bluntly: Unless it is a site that explicitly encourages self-promotion, don’t do it. Don’t obliquely do it either. Indeed, even when you are encouraged to promote, the phrase “too much of a good thing” definitely applies to doing so. Everyone remembers “that guy / gal” who the only time you saw them in a group was when they were plugging their book. Do you think anyone in the FB group bought their book? Probably not. Is it maybe more likely everyone in the group noted their name as “Person who is about to live the lyrics from Phil Collins’ “In The Air Tonight” concerning drowning…and not from the protagonist’s viewpoint.”?
Also–if you’ve been fortunate to be befriended by a more experienced mentor, do not tag them while trying to plug your book. This is annoying in the extreme, and it also blows up their notifications. Best selling authors know how to help you. If they’re not doing so, it could be everything from they’re restricted by their press to simply being too beaten down with actually, you know, trying to write their universes. Respect their time even more so than your own.
That’s about it from my end. I’ll try to put more up about promotion later.