Circling the Bandwagons – A Blog For Authors About Respect, and Online Kerfluffles

Are you with the bandwagon?

It seems like every year, there’s an internet beef somewhere in the writing community. Having been involved in the business for 5 years as a published writer, then tack on another decade of having been involved in writer’s groups online and at face-to-face meetings, I have two pieces of advice for new authors to avoid getting sucked into the ugly side of this industry.

Look before you leap onto that bandwagon; a cautionary tale ~

There are always feuds, online and off. People won’t always agree. Then someone throws down the gauntlet and the other reacts to defend his or her position, and people jump in and start taking sides.

There is little to be gained by hopping on bandwagons. Here’s one example.

About two and half years ago, I had a balcony seat to the LendInk show when a group of authors banded together to shut down what they believed was a book pirating site called LendInk. They sent the owner of the LendInk site take-down notices to have their books removed from the site. Authors encouraged other authors to jump on board the bandwagon. They flexed their online superpowers to fuel a cause that turned out to be a cluster-fuck of a misunderstanding.

Feathers flew on Facebook groups. Author page statuses posted outrage, rightly so IF what they were accusing the site of being was true—a pirate site. When the feathers settled, the site under attack turned out to be an Amazon affiliate site.

Being human, people make assumptions. People make mistakes. Some of the authors recognized their error in adding fuel to the fire. A few were humble enough to apologize to the site owner, but by then, the damage was done. The site could not recover, and all that effort to what end? A lending site that had great potential to help authors find readers and match reader interests to authors’ books is now defunct, while pirate sites are still out there, having a field day.

So, circle the bandwagon with caution. Research before reacting, and remember there are three sides to a story: this side, that side, and the truth. It’s important to champion a good and worthy cause. Absolutely! Just don’t make victims of an innocent party while doing it.

Respect each other

I was published 5 years ago in February of 2010, as a contracted writer with a royalty paying publisher, The Wild Rose Press. Then I became Indie-pubbed with the launch of my Island Moonlight Collection series in 2012. The things I’ve seen some writers do to other writers? Utter bullshit, from sock-puppetry, anonymous trolling to bullying. While writing isn’t a team sport, many of us strive for excellence, and hope for a little bit of success in this business. But if being happy for someone else’s achievements isn’t possible, then be indifferent (or whatever it takes) and move on.

That’s what it means to be professional. To be respectful. We may not like other authors’ books, style, voice or genre, but no one is forcing us to read or buy anyone else’s work. As a contracted and Indie author, I can tell you that the gates that opened writers up to the self-publishing pot-luck has fed some egos whose books would have been stuck in the slush pile, or pushing daisies in the basement of rejection hell, if not for the opportunity afforded to ALL of us, whether we come from a traditionally published background or choose to self-publish.

Publishing, authoring and marketing…it can be a tough and ugly business. Throw social media in the mix and ka-blam! You’re in the public eye where negative engagements thrive. People will provoke, don’t engage. Easy-peasy! Learn to recognize the mine-fields, the trolls and the Buzzkill Bettys, keep clear of them and you just might enjoy your stay.

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