Online Author Conduct
Welcome to the Author Conduct Tutorial. I’m *insert name*, your friendly Authorbot and I’m here to help you become the best Indie Author you can be. A big part of this is learning how to interact with the main groups of people you will encounter as an Indie Author on the internet.
Your Fellow Indie Author
- Do support your fellow indie authors. We are all in this together!
- Do offer encouragement if you feel a fellow author could use it. Writing is not easy, so every little bit helps.
- Do offer to Beta Read if you can. Your fellow indies will appreciate it and you can learn more about the craft from reading others’ work.
- Do offer feedback if it’s asked for. Keep in mind that the Indie is likely doing the best they can under their own unique circumstances.
- Do join indie author groups (if you’re reading this, you’re already part of the best one!) and engage with other authors.
- Do let the author know if their book moved you in a meaningful way. They will most likely appreciate learning that their work had an impact.
- Do celebrate your successes. You earned them!
- Don’t be competitive with your fellow indie authors. You do not know what is in their heart and your words may hurt.
- Don’t compare life-situations with other indie authors. There are no winners in this type of pity party.
- Don’t rate another indie author’s book low because you dislike them.
- Don’t engage in review-trading. It’s illegal.
- Don’t start flame wars or make disparaging comments about other indie authors in public. It makes both parties look bad.
- Don’t plug your own book in a review of another author’s book. That’s tacky and unprofessional.
- Don’t plagiarize from your fellow indies.
- Don't let your ego get out of control. No matter how many awards you have. Nobody likes a braggart.
- Do engage with your fans via appropriate channels. Hosted Q&As, social media.
- Do show them some of your personality. Remember you’re a person, not just a writer.
- Do give them access to exclusive goodies ie. bonus stories, first looks, prizes.
- Do thank them at every opportunity. These are the people who will help you have a writing career. Treasure them.
- Do ask them to be part of your mailing list. They will spread the word of your new releases.
- Don’t ask your supporters to crowdfund your novel in exchange for nothing.
- Don’t tell them to go after your critics.
- Don’t patronize or talk down to your fans.
- Don’t shortchange your supporters with repeated delays, cliffhangers or sub-par editions.
- Don’t ask your fans to alter their reviews.
- Don’t spam your followers on social media with repeated posts.
- Don’t hit on your fans. This is creepy.
- Do read your reviews. This is one of the great things about being an author. People will tell you how your work affected them. Even a critic can inspire someone else to read your work. Remember not everyone is looking for the same thing.
- Do pay close attention to what your critics say about your story, plot mechanics, characters and technical execution.
- Do evaluate the critiques. Determine if what the reviewer disliked is something you’re willing to acknowledge, change or improve. This is valuable information.
- Do remember that the critic took the time to write it down, which means your work had a strong impact on them, enough for them to invest their time in a response.
- Do seek comfort from your fellow indies. We understand how you feel You are not alone.
- Do look up the bad reviews of famous, classic books. It will put things in perspective for you.
- Do allow yourself to feel down if the review was negative. It’s normal, it’s okay and it will pass.
- Do continue writing.
- Don’t respond to bad reviews.
- Don’t respond to bad reviews, seriously.
Don’t respond to bad reviews, got it?
- Don’t take a negative review personally. It is one reader’s opinion and they are entitled to it. Remember there are 7 billion humans on Earth. Each one has an opinion.
- Don’t track down your reviewer, because that’s stalking and totally not cool.
- Don’t send your friends to attack your critic. You are not the Godfather and this ain’t the mean streets of where-ever.
- Don’t alter your work to fit a single review. Remember you can’t please everyone.
- Don’t get into debates with your critics on social media if they didn’t “get the subtext” of your book. The internet is forever. Your tweets will be dragged out as evidence at your “Authorhole” trial. Look up “Authors Behaving Badly” to get an idea of what that looks like.
- Don’t quit.
The Traditionally Published
- Do read a traditionally published book if it interests you. Enjoy!
- Do follow your favourite traditionally published author on social media or via their website! Think of them as free role models. They have professional brand managers, so learn as much as you can from the way they conduct themselves in public.
- Do join fan-clubs and other groups reading traditionally published authors so you can share in your fandom with other like-minded individuals.
- Do engage with the traditionally published authors when they have Q&As on Reddit or Twitter. Pick their brain!
- Do leave reviews of their work, if you’re so inclined. This will help you understand why what they did worked or didn’t work. This will train your brain to approach your own writing with the same critical eye.
- Don’t get involved in Indie vs. Traditionally published debates. The preference is personal.
- Don’t believe in the “Gatekeeper Myth” - that Indies are responsible for ensuring that every indie book published is as good as the traditional publishers. That’s impossible to manage. Quality control lies with the individual author. Anyone who judges Indies as a whole is making a decision for themselves, which they are free to do.
- Don’t believe that all Traditionally Published authors look down on indies.
- Don’t believe that Traditional Publishers are out to get or disparage indies.
- Don’t disparage the Traditionally published. They have found a measure of success. Toast them.
"But this is all common knowledge, Mods!" You say. "Of course I would never do anything like stalk my fans or my critics, etc. I'm just an indie author! I just want to write!"
Yes, but an online presence is necessary these days. There are a few lucky individuals who are allowed to remain behind closed doors and allow their highly paid publicists to handle the public for them, but I've got two kids at home. I don't have the budget for a high dollar publicist!
So we have to handle it ourselves. And some of these situations arise more often than you might imagine. Remember to take deep breaths and practice saying your tweets, messages, angry emails aloud before hitting post or send. If you flinch, they will too.
And, as we all know, if it's on the internet, it's there FOREVER.
In addition to the above, you need to remember what platform you're using. Goodreads has their own Terms of Service, as does Smashwords, Wattpad, Amazon, and so forth and so on. They expect you to know and abide by their rules.
Do your research. Maintain your public accounts with pride, class, and, well, ethics. Don't be an authorhole. Be a Proud Indie Author.