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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- **NEW** If someone harasses you online, DO NOT engage! Take appropriate measures by reporting harassing comments to the site administrators. Block the harasser, remove them from your friend lists, fan pages, blogs, etc. Engaging with them to defend yourself will only result in an escalating situation that will make YOU look bad. So don't do it!
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