Monday, October 16, 2023

Six Ways an Author Can Turn Away Fans Online

Writers work hard to hone their craft. They work hard to create a book that will sell. Authors work hard to build up an online presence and a fan base. After all that effort, why would an author do things to destroy their following?

Sadly, they do. Here are six ways they do it:

Being rude
Being negative towards others should be an obvious way to commit author suicide. But people still do it. This covers everything from talking bad to fans to viewing everyone else as inferior. Author Jonathan Franzen was insulted when Oprah wanted to make one of his novels a book club pick, thinking he was above such a thing. He lost a lot of sales and a lot of fans as a result. Never forget manners, be polite, and avoid meltdowns. (Meltdowns are the worst!)

Spewing political stuff - either side
The world is so divided, it’s almost a risk to say anything these days. But authors need to watch their words and not alienate half their fan base in one Tweet. Stick to one’s values, sure, but don’t come down hard or nasty. Better yet, avoid when possible. If it’s not what you write, why discuss it?

Belittling other authors
Authors are a very supportive group, but there are always a few who think other writers are below them. V.S. Naipaul stated no woman writer was his literary equal. Martin Amis stated that writing children’s books were below him. Slamming other authors, in general or specifically, never makes an author look better. Makes him look even worse!

Responding to negative reviews
Negative reviews happen to all authors. But responding to those reviews, whether it be where they are posted or blasting it across social media, is an unwise move. Arguing with a reviewer will never change their mind and a lot of people will witness this futile battle, their opinion of the author sinking lower with each exchange.

It’s tough to draw attention to new releases. But the constant barrage of marketing doesn’t win new fans. When every Tweet, every blog post, every share on social media involves one’s books, that’s a big turn-off. Readers want to know about new books, but authors who just have to mention their books every single time come off as a never-ending commercial.

Constant whining
Finally, there’s just over-all complaining. Complaining about sales, complaining about writing, complaining about editing, marketing, brainstorming, etc. No one wants to hang around someone who is constantly negative. Find something good to report. Make fans feel good about reading social media posts rather than run from them.

There are probably many other things authors can do online to shoot down their careers. What other behaviors come to your mind? Of the six listed, which one turns you off the most?



Pat Hatt said...

Last 2 would send me away. Gotta love when they post nothing for years and then all of a sudden just constant book promotion for a month. Then go away. Rinse and repeat.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Responding to negative reviews is a big no-no!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

They're all bad but I agree with Pat. I know an author who complains constantly, so I don't even visit her site anymore.

Find Meaning in Adversity said...

Thanks for the heads up about some of the potential pitfalls from authors. I enjoy writing, and sharing my thoughts with the world. I will keep these in mind in the future.

Joaquin Roibal

Anne R. Allen said...

Great minds do think alike, Alex! As you saw, I wrote a very similar piece for my blog yesterday. Some authors need a reminder that bad manners can tank their careers. We're all in this together.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Anne, that blew me away to see your post!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Alex - all very necessary to 'not do' ... constant whining or writing about all the hassles in their life - is a 'no no' ... so I so agree here - glad I have Positive and Hilary in my names! Cheers Hilary

Jen said...

It's kind of sad that common sense kindness just kind of goes out the window sometimes, especially online. I really like what's said about being political, "If it's not what you write, why discuss it?" I've had people hint that because I'm a writer/artist, I have no choice but to be political but I don't believe that. My thoughts and values will come out in my work; getting into divisive arguments aren't going to benefit anyone.

Great list and post!
~ Jen

Mirka Breen said...

I agree with all six points. As to which is the biggest turn off, it depends and changes now and then. But number #5 is one I feel especially strongly, because of all the above it's the one I see the most in the circles I hang out with.
I stir away from the politicos, and writers I know don't publicly disrespect others. I don't personally mind some kvetching and have done my share though not excessively. Life is challenging {{{hug}}} and the writing life is no exception. Responding to negative reviews or to any reviews for that matter is a no-no; they are not for us writers in the first place.
But tooting one's horn is the norm and almost required even from traditional publishing houses, and it's misguided. Self-promotion doesn't really work, anyway. If mentioning your work now and then (recommended and publishing expects it) is one thing, a barrage of such has made me quit following some blogs/feeds/threads and I never came back.

Emma said...

When it comes to authors (or any creative type), I head for the hills when it's constant self-promotion - especially when they used to have so much interesting stuff to say. In general, rudeness will always make me walk away.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Jen, exactly!