One of the biggest rookie mistakes of new authors is commenting on posts meant to stir up controversy or trouble. It’s usually best to be a lurker not a commenter unless you are prepared for the consequences. There are places on the web that I know because I’m not a best-selling print author I won’t be welcome. I avoid certain forums and very negative blogs and websites because I have a very positive attitude about starting out in this business and I don’t feel the need to apologize for my work or give an accounting of my profits to the penny to strangers. Ironically, there are writers who waste valuable writing time getting into the business of others. Personally, I look to sites like Predator and Editors for my Intel on a publisher and ignore cesspools of negative energy and hateful rhetoric.
Another thing that new authors should be aware of is that reviewers both “professional” and reader have the right not to like your work. If you decide to reply to a negative review, it should only be to THANK the reviewer for their time and assure them you’ve learned from their words or just leave it at a thank you. Yes, if you can thank a reviewer it shows you to be both professional and mature, even if it hurts a little. One bad review won’t make or break your book, but drawing attention to how unfair the reviewer was will only make you look bad and give the negative comments many readers. If you get a negative review on a place like Goodreads, you can post the good reviews to balance things out, make sure to include the link so people can go the review site and see that it’s a real review. However, at times you might get an unfair review, even these need to be ignored or thanked. I very rarely have given a negative review because I genuinely love books. Self-published or not, I’ve never found a book I didn’t love…honestly! I’d never be able to be a professional reviewer for that reason. It takes time and effort to write reviews and I think the reviewers who find both positive and negative things about a book are the most helpful. If they say I didn’t like book “X” because…and give a valid reason I respect that. If they don’t write anything but it sucked as a reader I’m smart enough to ignore the review. Give your readers credit they aren’t dumb if they read reviews to buy books they know how to spot a genuine review and how to interpret it.
Everything you post on the internet is there forever and can be used against you. Remember this when you Facebook or Tweet too. Even if the person you bash isn’t a friend of follower it takes one copy and paste for them read every word—even if it’s taken completely out of context so if you wouldn’t say it to their face don’t post about it. Don’t assume that everyone wants to see you succeed and guard your words as precious. Assume everything you say is open for controversy, even the most positive and innocent comment can be treated with distain and drama. You don’t want to be what everyone is talking about unless it’s because your book is a runaway best seller! Even if you think you are among friends be careful because you might find out that you aren’t and then it’s too late. I’ve recently learned this about group chats that even a private chat might not be only for the eyes that you posted your words for reading.
Be very careful because no one is looking out for you except you. Don’t assume that because you’re new no one is watching you’d be surprised just how many people might be paying attention. I try to be very positive and upbeat so writing such a cautionary post is hard for me, but I really feel that it’s important. The internet is a lot like virtual high school, so for those of us long out of that scene it can really be tangled web to navigate. ***wink**