The Hit-And-Run Commentary

Sunday, I had a run-in with another author over on Facebook. (It was in the Writers of Mass Distraction Facebook group, but don’t bother looking for it. The thread ceased to exist shortly after the surly fellow departed from the group. I knew he started it to get attention, and I decided he wasn’t going to get any. At least not at WMD. What he does elsewhere is not my concern.)

Road RunnerI confess, I am sometimes a hit-and-run commenter. I’ll scan the posts, making a few casual comments without giving them much thought. This fellow’s post seemed to be designed for one purpose: to get fellow group members to buy his books. That’s fine, but taking pot shots at God to sell books is pretty lame. I gave the post a less thoughtful response than some of my fellow group members did. I thought the guy was a jerk. I still do.

He had a surprisingly extreme response which, to make a long story short, resulted in his departure from the group. Okay, so I edited my comment–according to him, after he responded. I don’t know. Maybe I did. I didn’t notice. I didn’t really care. I’ve posted responses to comments many times, only to find another member’s comment had come in before mine, completely changing the way mine sounded. It happens. I didn’t throw a hissy fit and go on and on about it, the way he did. It’s not a big deal–but obviously, it was to him. Why? Did he pick up on the fact that I wasn’t giving him much thought?

Another group member later told me later that he had been lamenting his lack of success elsewhere on the site. That explained his crankiness, as did an email from still another group member who recalled his bad attitude the day before, noting that he rarely interacted with the group anyway, only posting to push his books. I don’t recall seeing him there. I knew he was a member, but yesterday was the first time we actually crossed paths.

I am not familiar with this author’s work. I’ve never read any of his books, not even samples. I know nothing of his talents. I have, however, read a few five-star reviews of his work on a review blog I used to follow. The reviewer obviously thinks he’s good. His books sound a bit too quirky for my taste, but that’s just me.

There are any number of reasons why an author might not be succeeding, even if they’re talented writers with well-written books to offer. The website Author Media offers some possibilities and potential solutions. My friend and fellow author Mike Saxton points out that a large number of self-published authors make the mistake of marketing their books to other authors rather than to readers.  Everyone has the same objective: to sell books, not to buy them. I’ll buy books from authors who are personal friends, and I’ll buy anything else in genres I enjoy–but be realistic. Nobody buys everyone’s books, nor should it be expected.

I definitely would not buy a book from an author with such a bad attitude.

We all have our ups and downs; we don’t all take our down times out on whoever happens to cross our paths. If we’re to survive in this crazy business, we develop thick hides, we learn to roll with the punches, and we accept the realities of it. Self-publishing is not a career for anyone seeking overnight success. The fact remains that most authors–whether traditionally-published or self-published–have to keep their day jobs. Most don’t earn enough to write full-time. I believe the estimate, when I was starting out, was 10%. And that’s a pretty generous estimate. Furthermore, only a small percentage of those who made a living at it actually became wealthy.

Sometimes, we limit ourselves, our audience by the choices we make. I knew when Collin and I decided to self-publish Chasing the Wind that we were giving up a lot. At a time when most writers couldn’t get one agent, we were fortunate to have multiple agents excited about the book–conditionally. After getting past the “this is a movie, not a book” phase, we found ourselves with another choice to make: possibly removing the spiritual elements of the story to make it more mainstream. Not something I wanted to do. Collin was more receptive at that point. Truth be told, I think he still would be.

One agent, who loved my writing and believed the novel could be a big bestseller, felt it could only work if we took out all the supernatural aspects and made it a sci-fi thriller about genetic engineering. After much debate, we finally decided to self-publish. I would write the book I wanted to write, and accept that it would have a much smaller audience.

No regrets. And no whining.

Check ’em out:

Speak of the Devil

Basking in the Afterglow

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20 responses

  1. Great post Norma, and you make some valid points. And indeed publishing, esp Indie is really not so easy and will take time. It is quite a choice you had to make: a big publisher with conditions or to publish exactly what you had written. I think it was brave of you and I’m glad that you held on to what you truly believe. Chasing the Wind is indeed an excellent novel!

  2. It happens. Have had a few run-in ruins on FB myself and even was attacked for critiquing an article on Egyptian protesters two years ago for the NY Times mag. The attacks included WordArt of a name only some people know me by, offensive language that attacked me as an American and accused me of being paid for my comments. These things can be emotionally stressful, so I hope that you are able to put it behind you. The waves crash but then subside…Made some friends out of the debacles who supported my views and respected my knowledge of Egypt and my analysis. Some good can come out of these things. Thanks for your blog and Happy Spring! Your courage in self-publishing what you want to write and your dedication prompts admiration!

  3. I never really understood the point of trying to sell books to writers, for if I have the time to read, then I invariably use it to write. The market is with the readers. New writers would save themselves a lot of wasted time and heartache if they learned that lesson ASAP.

  4. A lot of writers are also readers, but not everyone likes to read the same thing. I don’t mind a bit of self-promotion but if the genre isn’t something I read, I’m not going to buy it. I put my books out there occasionally, but I’m well aware everyone won’t like them. And that’s fine.

    What’s unacceptable is attacking other writers. Sounds like he has a problem.

  5. The internet makes it easy for angry, negative people to attack others. I got into a war of words on Facebook and then I realized it was pointless because I was never going to change this persons mind.

  6. Sometimes you just have to decide what matters most. When I was younger, it was money and the bestseller lists. Now that I’m older, it’s being able to love what I’m doing.

  7. This moron didn’t use offensive language or anything, he was just annoying. Patience isn’t one of my strengths. I often wish I could just ignore people who are making colossal fools of themselves.

    Thank you for your kind comments!

  8. I wish I had more time to read! I have so many books on my Kindle now that have yet to be read… I’m also backlogged in writing reviews. I finally decided I would only write reviews in the future if I could give a book four or five stars.

  9. It was unprofessional behavior on his part. If his career isn’t going well, he should be working on fixing the problem, not alienating people who might actually buy his books.

    Just before he departed, he asked the group at large if anyone there had bought any of his books. No one responded. I don’t know if that meant no one had, or if the people who had just weren’t present at that time. Either way, he’d made an ass of himself.

  10. Sounds like a plan I should follow. Now I finally have a tablet, I spend most of the time writing and rarely get a chance click on the Kindle App.

  11. I know who you’re talking about. And yes, it irks me when someone visits WMD just to promote themselves. I feel the same about blogger sometimes.

    He’s got a lot of growing up to do.

    Hugs and chocolate,
    Shelly

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