Saturday, August 11, 2012

A word to the not-so-wise: CHILL!

The self-published author meltdowns continue unabated.  People who are well past the age of majority are behaving like spoiled three-year-olds.  And I don't think any of them have a clue as to how embarrassing their behavior is.

I, quite frankly, am embarrassed by them.  I, too, am a self-published author, and there are hundreds of others who are not behaving like rotten children who have never been disciplined in their lives.

Whether the issue these jerks are having their tantrums over is bad reviews or legitimate e-book lending sites, they are so completely out of any boundaries of professionalism that they make me despair that authors will never get free of the vampire parasite claws of the traditional publishers.

I don't need to list them, either by name or tantrum or website.  You probably already know who they are anyway.  What I'm here to ask is that you readers not tar all of us self-publishing authors with the well-deserved "I'm NEVER buying another book of hers!" brush.

There may be a dozen or two dozen or even a hundred of these authors.  At the first sign of criticism, they lash out with all the fury of a child deprived of a favorite toy.  They may have recruited friends and family members to post gushing reviews and feel entitled to every single one of those Amazon five-star reviews even when they know the opinions of friends and family members are not unbiased.  But along comes a reader who has poured her time and money into reading the book and is then disappointed with it, a truly unbiased critic, and she is attacked by these authors, their friends, their fans.

So they set up websites devoted to further lashing out at the critics.  They go way beyond anything any other professional  would do in any other profession.  They threaten and intimidate and refuse to address any of the issues brought up by the critics.

Maybe the book is badly written.  Maybe the research is inadequate.  Maybe the typos outnumber the lines.  It doesn't make any difference:  If the reader is disappointed, she is entitled to her opinion and the author is NOT entitled to go after her.

Get that?  The author put that work out there.  (Yes, I'm repeating earlier admonitions.)  The author said, in effect, "Here is my product.  I'm done with it.   This is the very best I can do and because of the respect I have for my readers, for the people who are investing time and money in anticipation of top quality entertainment, I ask nothing more of you than that.  I do not require you to make excuses for me or correct my mistakes.  That is not your job; it is mine and you have every right to expect that I've done it before you ever open the file to read."

It is also our job as digital self-publishers to read and understand and abide by our contracts.  Yes, authors, when you upload your MSWord file to Kindle or PubIt or whatever, you are entering into a contract, a legally binding contract, with the company that's going to be selling your work.  Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords:  They all require you to affirm that you have read and understood and will abide by their Terms of Service before you upload your file.  You don't get to opt out of clauses you don't like, and you have no ethical or moral right to take out your frustration on any innocent party if it turns out you didn't read, didn't understand, and/or are not willing to abide by those terms, all of those terms.

There is a list posted on the Amazon "Badly Behaving Authors" discussion thread of authors who have participated in the destruction of an e-book lending site.  I'm happy to say I recognized none of the names on that list, which means I have never bought any of their books.  Needless to say, I won't buy any in the future.  And there are probably other readers who won't, because the word gets around the Internet very, very quickly.  And as many have said, the Internet has a very short attention span, but a very, very, very long memory.  In other words, peopleare not going to forget this kind of bad behavior.

As writers, our job is to write; as self-publishing authors, our job is to put a professionally produced product in the market place for our readers to buy.

It is not our job to challenge readers, to correct them, to chastise them, to attack them, to "out" them.  Never, never, never.

So though I doubt any of the badly behaving authors will ever venture to this blog, perhaps some who do chance by here will tell their friends and colleagues:  The most unprofessional thing any author, but especially the self-publishing author, can do is alienate the very people she expects to buy her book.  the customer is always right, even when she's wrong. 

No comments:

Post a Comment