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Sticks and Stones -- by Betty Dolphin

May break my bones but words will never hurt me. Think again. Let's compare this riddle to current times:

I've noticed a disturbing trend on many sites that authors use for promotions, self-publishing, and to simply learn. Authors, beta-readers, bloggers, etc. are warring with each other instead of helping each other. I've seen plenty of one-star ratings accompanied by a destructive phrase that had nothing to do with the book in question. The 'reviewer' simply wanted to turn away readers. Dependent upon the site, sometimes the 'reviewer' will leave a link to a 'great read'. Do they really think that works? Maybe it will get them a few sales but it will also get them a reputation.

On the flip side, there are authors that post educational tidbits. This is great and should continue. For those that do so, remember that you just launched a lifeline to many authors. You may get contacted with questions. I recently contacted one such author and received a vague I'm-too-busy attitude. Since info passed through messages lacks body language and can be construed as cold, I reached out again. I was ignored.

Authors that are fast to give advice should expect questions. If said author doesn't have the answer, that's understandable. Remember, silence is a form of communication. If you have time to post irrelevant questions simply to gather responses, likes, and shares or to post every move you make on Facebook, you have time to answer a colleague's question.

Let's face it, we're all in the same boat. Everyone has questions and wants to see their books being read and cherished. If you're going to dangle that lifeline, please don't let go of the rope.

I want to touch on friends/family/paid reviews also. Although 5-stars are the goal, know that when a book that is not up to par maintains a string of outstanding reviews; most readers will know bias is afoot. The majority of those same readers will write the author's name on a not-so-nicely-named list. Their review will also not be so nice. Don't set yourself up for failure this way.

Know that friends, family, and money will always treat you kindly. If your intention was to be lavished with praise, change your name to Stephen King because your current name will not become a 'household brand' through cheating on reviews. You might say that so-and-so did it and she's on top now. That's just great for so-and-so. If her work isn't up to par, she won't be on top for long. With the world at our fingertips, the fact that unethical practices were used by such an author will come to light eventually. There's that reputation at stake again.

In essence, don't become a splash in this huge ocean by sabotaging yourself. The stick you're poking other authors with is not indestructible. Go ahead and secure that lifeline with important nuggets of information but don't disappear because those nuggets will transform into your own personal barrier. In closing, your family, friends, and money will make you think that you're king of the mountain. The next truthful words may bring a rain of sticks and stones to knock you off.

I am an author with Langley's Lovelies, a ghostwriter, and a humble human searching for knowledge like all others. If you're joining us in this ocean, please recognize that the sticks and stones of old have been transformed by technology into the words that were fabled to never hurt you.

Posted by Betty Dolphin 24 May 2014 at 03:44
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