Thursday, January 9, 2014

Don't Let Things Get Ugly: Etiquette for Authors by Mysti Parker

Mysti Parker gave me permission to pass on these words of wisdom. Thank you, Mysti!
If you're an author, chances are that at some point you'll make a mistake somewhere along the marketing path. Indie or small press authors have to work even harder than traditionally published authors to keep their careers on the right path. Navigating the waters of public scrutiny is rather like a neverending job interview. You have to maintain a positive image and hold on to your umbrella of integrity, even when the rough winds of criticism threaten to blow it to Timbuktu.

Here are a few guidelines that may help you when it comes to author etiquette:
  1. Avoid asking others (especially fellow authors) to give you glowing reviews, and don't offer to trade glowing reviews either. If you do read your fellow authors' books and wish to review them on your own, make it clear that you will review honestly. When others review your books, stress that you expect honest reviews as well. 
  2. Do not respond to negative reviews. They can certainly make you wince at times, but at least the reader spent their time and effort to read and review what you've written. Respect that.
  3. When promoting your book and building your platform, be extremely wary of large social book websites like Goodreads, Amazon message boards, etc. If you are a member of any of these, simply list your books and use promotional tools within guidelines, but keep your personal interactions minimal. To communicate personally with readers, friends, and colleagues, stick to places where you have control of moderation, like a blog, website, and Facebook page.
  4. Please do NOT plug your book when writing book reviews or in anyone else's comment thread or group. If you belong to any groups on Facebook, Goodreads, or anywhere else, follow the specific rules for that group. If NO promo is allowed, then don't do it. There are plenty of promotional groups scattered throughout the online universe. Find them and utilize them. Otherwise, you're going to look like a shameless promoter.
  5. DO NOT send unsolicited emails, Facebook messages, etc to anyone about your book, neither to advertise it nor to ask for a review. No one likes getting spam. EXCEPTIONS: Sending out newsletters by email is perfectly acceptable, since the subscribers signed up willingly for your correspondence. Also, sending out book review requests to book review sites who accept unsolicited submissions is fine. 
  6. Utilize any acceptable resources you can in order to spread the word about your book. Put a link to your book/blog/website, etc in your email signature. Pay for advertisements in both print and online media. Hire a book promotion site to schedule a virtual book tour. The choices are endless.
Remember, you've worked hard for this. Don't derail it with bad author etiquette. Of course, you're proud of your book, and so you should be. There are a number of ways to share your book with the world, but do it right. If you make a mistake, make amends and move on. And most of all: KEEP WRITING!!! ~Myst


  1. Hi Myst,
    Thank you for reviewing good manners and etiquette.
    Could you (or Leona) elaborate why personal interaction should be kept to a minimum on goodreads? I recently saw a thread there where readers were venting about authors not interacting in groups (except to post hit and run posts).
    Thank you!

    1. Hi Loren, I'll let Mysti answer this for you. There is a very good reason for her comment. Thank you for reading the post.

    2. Hi Loren--thanks for your question. To put it plainly, there are cyber bullies on Goodreads who are known for targeting authors. They scour the book pages and forums for any authors they think are "behaving badly". Should you post a comment they disagree with on a review or in a thread in the forums, or even if you are connected to another author they are targeting, you will likely be next.

      Mind you, most of these "infractions" would not be considered bad behavior by most people. A friend of mine was targeted because she left a comment on a forum thread in support of Goodreads policy changes against author abuse. I became a target when I supported her and blogged about cyber bullying. Another friend was targeted for simply liking one of my status updates.

      This is why I suggest keeping your interactions on Goodreads and other large unmoderated sites like the Amazon forums, Booklikes, etc. to a minimum. Here are a few wonderful articles I've come across lately that will give you further information:

    3. Thank you so much Mysti and Leona!
      This was quite enlightening. I try to do my homework, but we learn new things all the time.
      And it came at perfect timing, b/c just today I was thinking how I should increase my goodreads activity...but I don't like bullies(though it would make me feel young again).

  2. Excellent tips and great write up. Thank you for posting this! These might seem simple things to know but there are so many things to learn and to continually update on. Marketing and walking your way in and out of the net spectrum in not an easy one when your dearest passion is just to write. It's too bad, as authors, we can't just write and leave our books out there for the world to see and pick up. It's a shame that we can't let our story sing so loudly on its own that it does get noticed. Only when you have a name for yourself do those fantasies start to become realities and even then I'm not so sure how much of that fantasy is true! After all, I'm still struggling myself. It's work, plain and simple, but the pay off is well worth it: you are free… you are an Indie Author!

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Linda.When I saw this on Mysti's blog, I knew it was well worth repeating here.

  3. Hey, Leona and Mysti. Like your comments. I've never been able to figure out Goodreads, so I'm kind of glad to hear to limit my interactions there. A shame. Should be a good place to find readers. But I remember last year when some poor author was targeted including getting hate messages. I mean really! I confess to having sent emails about my blogs to folks who I thought might be interested. Only a few asked to be removed, and I did. I think it's hard to get non-writers to get how important it is to sign up for the blog and the newsletter. I put the request at the bottom of my blogs, but don't get many takers. The whole marketing thing of being a writer is so tough. LOL I just want to write & edit my blogs, post on blogs, and write my own. FB is okay, but twitter and all the other stuff...just take tons of time. Thanks for sharing this post, Leona. Good points, Mysti.

    1. Hi Marsha, I've never understood Goodreads either, and now that I know several of my friends have been targeted on there, I will keep my distance.

      I don't really understand Twitter either, but I've tried. I wish I could afford to pay somebody to market my book so I could just relax and read and write to my hearts content. I'm getting lazy in my old age. lol

  4. Mysti, excellent advice. There is a time a place for everything.

    Anna from Shout with Emaginette

  5. I am still viewing the world through rose-colored glasses I guess. I had no idea bullies were lurking on Goodreads, so your info was eye-opening to me. Thanks for sharing the etiquette.


  6. Nice post! Thanks a lot for the kind of perfect topic.I like your post. Thanks for sharing
    Click Here : 2005 Cat 140H (1312) w/7895 Hrs For Sale at $108k


Leave me a comment and tell me what is on your mind.
You'll need to use the drop down and make a Comment As selection. The simplest is to select Name/URL.