Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Advice to every author

I am not technically an author (I'm dabbling with it, but I can't pretend that I fit this category). I've never published anything.

But I am reader. A voracious reader, actually.

And as a reader (the person you are ostensibly trying to connect with), I have a few pieces of advice:

- Don't spam your friends/fans/followers. Tweeting/facebooking/emailing links to your work, reviews about your work, promos about your work is fine, but keep it reasonable. I follow 1800 people on twitter. If you can manage to spam up my timeline, you are doing it WRONG. Once a day, tops.

- Better yet: Don't. Just let your sparkling personality speak for itself. I've bought books and hyped books for people just because I think they are awesome. It works. I promise.

- Don't compare your work to Harry Potter, anything by Jane Austen, or really anything of that caliber of popularity. You'll never, ever measure up. Even if you're better than that other writer; you've set the bar way too high and you can never measure up. When people hear the name of their absolute favorite author/book/series, they imagine absolute heaven, perfection, and instantaneous rapture. You can't measure up to that. Plus, I once heard you ought to be yourself... or something to that effect. Stop trying to tell somebody that you're just like somebody else.

Simply put: Make a list of the ten bestselling authors in your genre. Make a list of the ten most respected/hyped authors in your genre. Put those two lists together. Cross off duplicates. Never compare yourself to anybody on that list.

The exception: When you are talking to somebody who does NOT read often. If they haven't heard of anybody BUT Stephen King or That Lady Who Wrote Harry Potter On A Train, then by all means, use them as a frame of reference. Then rethink your friends. 

- Don't be snide. Don't be snide about other genres. Don't be snide about other publishing options. Don't be snide about other/niche markets. Don't. Don't. Don't. Yes, you are talented. Yes, you worked hard. But, for better or worse, you are in the public eye now and your words will live in infamy. Don't say things that will come back to bite you.

- Be classy about bad reviews. Ignore them, or thank the reviewer for their "insight". You can't fight it, and bad press is still press. I know I'm speaking from a bit of ignorance here, but I promise you, you look really, really bad when you lash out at reviewers. We readers all band together, whether formally or informally, and when an author lashes out, we all take it personally.

- Don't tweet excerpts. You are limited to 140 characters and you just CANNOT do your story justice in that amount of space. At best, these tweets look boring and uninteresting. At worst, you sound a little psychotic and completely worthless as a writer.

What else, readers of the world? What would you add to the list?


  1. You've pretty much hit the nail on the head. I'm generally always disappointed when I read a book, hear of an author, that's been compared to another book or author. I get my hopes up because I loved the previous and I'm SURE I'm going to love this one and when I don't, I feel duped. Great post.

  2. It makes me batty. I see so many authors saying, "If you liked Harry Potter and Twilight you'll love my stuff!"

    And there is really no way to live up to that kind of hype, good or bad.

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