About ten years ago (has it really been that long?), I did actor David Hedison’s website. The other person and I who managed it were very cautious about our approach. We knew that we represented him with the site and we didn’t want do anything that would change his image. So we stayed professional. It was about the acting and the shows he’d been in.
Cut to today.
I went through my Facebook friends and unfollowed a bunch of writers. The reason was pretty simple: They didn’t respect me as a reader.
There are a lot of ways a writer can land in this area. One is a writer being nasty in public to the people buying the books. I haven’t seen this with writers myself, though I’ve heard stories. I have seen it with actors who blast a show they were on, the people associated with it, and by association, the people who like the show.
Another did happen to me. There’s a fantasy trilogy I really liked. It used to be a periodic reread for me. One day I commented on my blog about the major storytelling technique I liked about the story. The writer came on the blog and said she was revising that major storytelling technique in the books because she’d learned a lot since then and what she’d done was a newbie mistake. It was, well, insulting. I liked how she used this technique, and it was the reason this story was a periodic reread–and she was revising it to be “better”? I haven’t reread the books since or gotten any new ones.
Still another happened a few months back. I was on a entrepreneur coaching site for women. It was a site that was supposed to be friendly and encouraging. The owner had recently come out with a non-fiction book. As a teaching lesson for the members, she called one star reviewers “haters.” I’ve done one star reviews. Reviews are not to stroke writer egos–they’re a reader’s opinion about the book. Writers should never get involved in that part of the process. I objected politely and pointed out that someone in the group could have given it a one star review (I did not review the book. Glad I didn’t. It wasn’t a five star book). The owner told me it was her group and she could do what she wanted; she’d intended the “hater” comment as friendly and encouraging for the members. The group no longer felt friendly and encouraging so I self-edited. What she didn’t know was that I’d been playing around with the idea of using her coaching services. She lost that business because she didn’t respect her audience–only the ones who gave her glowing reviews. If someone asked me for a recommendation for a coach, it wouldn’t be to her.
Then there’s the fourth one, and it’s gotten me on two writers. It’s politics. Hands down, the worst thing for writers, because you alienate half your audience! There’s an award winning science fiction writer. I signed up on Facebook to follow him thinking I would get pearls of wisdom because he teaches on writing. Instead, it was in your politics. As in, “if you don’t agree with me, I’m going to ban you!” I unfollowed him because I couldn’t deal with his nastiness. Saw a story of his in SF&F Magazine. Passed it by.
The second writer (some of you will know who I’m talking about) wrote in one of her books to writers to stay away from openly being political because of the impact on readers. Then she broke own rules and veered into a couple of political posts, one on her blog and several on Facebook. She didn’t say much, but what she did say was enough to leave a bad taste for me. It was an instant turn off because she was nasty and she assumed everyone agreed with her opinion. She’s a fantastic, award-winning writer, produces a lot of new books, and I haven’t touched a book of hers since those comments.
Disrespecting your readers = just bad all around.