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

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!!! ~Mysti


Posted by Mysti Parker 25 Feb 2014 at 00:14
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Responses to this blog

Mysticat 25 Feb 2014 at 15:08  
Thanks for hosting my article today! ~Mysti
Mysticat 25 Feb 2014 at 20:59  
Here's another useful promotion tip from a fellow author (Lloyd Lofthouse) who's not a CC member:

I'd like to add a #7. If you have a Blog, include a signature at the end
of each post that includes links to your books. It's seems to have worked
well on my Blogs. At the end of every post, there's a centered line and
below that line a short bio plug with links to my work.

Card 26 Feb 2014 at 19:04  
Nice guidelines, Mysti. I take it that one of your points is to not get in peoples' faces with marketing your book, i.e. there's a difference between tweeting about your book or posting about it as a facebook status, and sending people copy/paste messages about how they should read it.

I do think you can find value in personalized messages though, if you genuinely know the people you're messaging and honestly think they might be interested in your book. But that sort of thing will probably be few and far between, if you're being honest with yourself about these peoples' likely interest level.

I read an article once that talked about how marketing can be as simple as blog posts that communicate, and connect with, people. I think the lesson there is that although we think of things like TV ads when we hear "marketing," corporations are run by groups of people, so they can't rely on a "human" public image - they just have to hawk their wares everywhere. In contrast, when you're independent, you're in the limelight just as much as your products, so if you sell yourself well, then you can sell your products in the process.
26 Feb 2014 at 23:27  
I have a petition going right now, sponsored and supported by novelist Anne Rice, which is asking Amazon to take steps to protect authors and their readers from bullying and harassment in reviews and on the forums on Amazon. I hope you'll read and consider signing and sharing the petition.

Mysticat 27 Feb 2014 at 00:05  
Thank you for commenting, Card! Being diplomatic and tactful about marketing does take practice. We want to find a good balance between being timid and in-your-face.

And yes, you're right! It's very important to connect with your readers/potential readers on a personal level, so instead of so many "buy my book" posts, you provide material that allows interaction. Ask questions, make polls, share funny pics and quotes, and if you can, it's a good idea to keep the topics in line with your genre, so folks can more easily make the connection between you and said genre.

And thank you for sharing the petition link, Tab. I'll check it out.
Aries75 27 Feb 2014 at 03:54  
Here's the petition link again, but this time it should be clickable:

(by the way, the preponderance of abusive, nasty comments facebook users make under their real names shows that eliminating anonymity won't necessarily put an end to trolling However, at least it should make sockpuppetry - creating multiple accounts for the purpose of bullying and harassment - a lot more difficult)
Sigrun (administrator) 1 Mar 2014 at 21:24  
I find this article very informative with many good points. Thanks for sharing this with us
6 Mar 2014 at 14:53  
Great post! I've been having this problem on Twitter. Authors follow me, and when I follow them back, they spam the heck out of me with links to their books, websites, etc, asking me to purchase and review their work. One author even got cheeky and sent a message telling me he would set himself on fire if I didn't buy his book and to please not make him have to do that. Seriously?
Mysticat 10 Mar 2014 at 00:04  
Oh good heavens! Yeah some folks are way over the top. That's where that block button comes in handy.

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