Thursday, January 13, 2011


Once in a while I see things on the internet about authors and/or publishers behaving…indelicately. Let’s face it, we’re all human and can misbehave at times. And when you are new to publishing you’d be amazed at the mistakes you can make.

Relatively speaking, I’m semi-new in the long scheme of things. My first published book was in 2008. There are many out there who have been publishing a lot longer than I have been, but I’ve also been around in the writing world for many more years than I’ve been published.

In any event, many writers decide they want to write a book themselves because they fell in love with the romance genre while reading one day. I’ve made no secret that my love for M/M romance is deeply rooted to my first picking up Without Reservations by J.L. Langley years ago now. I couldn’t get enough of reading it after this and I’ve never stopped and don’t plan to ever. I read this genre almost exclusively at this point. And I’m certainly not alone in this. So with that in mind, I have advice for some newly starting authors or readers who in the back of their head have thought about maybe one day.

Some Advice For New Writers:

You are going to get some really bad reviews. You will. Face it. No matter how many people luurve your books, you will get readers who will think, “what the hell” when reading your books. I’m not going to sugar-coat it and tell you it doesn’t hurt. It does. And guess what? It really doesn’t get any easier to hear, “this book sucked” from your first book to your twentieth. And here’s where the advice comes in. SUCK IT UP. You have to. Do not engage in a dialogue, even a polite one, regarding a negative review. Save yourself grief. Really. Don’t say a word. None. Don’t even thank a reviewer for reading your book. I know some do, I don’t, and there is absolutely nothing that says you must. I don’t even thank good reviews. As so many review sites like to state, the reviews aren’t for you, they are for potential buyers to use to make up their minds. Many readers don’t even read reviews. When I choose books to read, I rarely do myself. If you must weep and wail over a really nasty review, and you are human, so you probably will, do so with a buddy off the internet and move on. The internet is public and everything lasts forever.

It’s tempting. Sometimes reviewers mention something about your book that isn’t even in that book. “I hated the character of George.” You read this and think, “Wait? What? I don’t have a George.” Yeah, still don’t say anything. Honest. Those that have read the book will know there is no George and those that haven’t will just think, “wow, that author is obnoxious commenting on how dare you mention a George. There is no George.”

And for goodness sakes don’t even do this on a site like Goodreads which is HUGE. Don’t accuse someone who gave your book one star of pirating the book. It’s absurd for one thing and makes you look bad for another. Not liking a book and not paying for a book are two different things. Don’t encourage your readers who enjoy your work to defend you either. You don’t want to gain the reputation that you have “rabid” fans. And do not ever invent fake people on Amazon and Goodreads to defend you. Trust me, it has happened.

Nothing will harm your career more than being a dweeb on the internet. Nothing. Publishers, editors, agents, readers, etc., all know how to use the internet and Google. If they like what they have read of yours and Google you to learn more, and they will, and see posts after posts about what an idiot you are, well, you get the picture.

When you decide to publish your work you are putting your book out there for people to spend their hard earned money on. It’s what you want them to do.

But it also means you have to take that your books are open for discussion. Open for derision even. Yes. And they have every right to say what they think of your writing, whether what they say is fair or not. Full stop, here. They have that right.

And then you will get an email from a reader who will tell you they love your books. They read one, loved it, and went out and bought your entire backlist and loved all of them, too. It’s a wonderful feeling and it does happen, too.

Always be professional. You won’t regret it.


  1. It's no secret you've been one of my mentors from the start, and I feel very fortunately I had such a wonderful and savvy person to emulate.

    Ditto on everything you said, I remember many of these incidents and guess what?? I don't buy anything from the authors. Point proven.

    Perfect advice from a wonderful example of professionalism. Thank you, Shawn!!

  2. LOL @I feel very fortunately!

    Gads, I wish Blogger had an edit function for comments!

  3. Thanks, D.

    And what prompted this post is another writer/publisher was at such behavior again recently and it just makes my jaw drop in astonishment.

    and I concur on the blogger editing. You'd think they could manage that feature!

  4. Like Devon, you know I consider you not only as my friend, but a mentor. I've watched you handle yourself with grace several times when an unfair statement or review was made about of one your wonderful books.
    I'm proud to say I've learned a lot from you when it comes to getting a bad review.
    It does hurt when you get a bad review. I know my books aren't going to be for everyone. I accept that. You're right. Writer's have to develop thick skin in this industry. I've seen certain authors become outraged when they get a bad review. I've never understood what the author thinks they're going to accomplish when they get into a confrontation with a reader/reviewer over something the reviewer wrote. It just makes the author look childish, and it often turns me away from wanting to read anything written by them.
    Like you, I don't really acknowledge many reviews about my books. I've learned from you and Ava it's best to just relax and chill when it comes to other people's opinions.
    Thank you for teaching me that.

  5. Ah, that's sweet of you to say so

  6. Fabulous post!

    I know it has to hurt when someone doesn't like an author's book. Those books are your babies. Of course, I'm not an author, but I think it's a bit similar to when a student doesn't like me. Yes, it does bother/hurt me, but I keep telling myself that out of the thousands of kids I have taught/will teach, it just isn't possible for them all to like me. That same logic lends itself to writing. No author is going to be the author for every reader.

    I do admire you ladies for the way you've handled yourselves online. There are readers out there who don't have much or any tact when reviewing. There are others who write mean reviews just because they get some perverse pleasure out of being snarky. Some of those people want to cause "drama." I don't know why, unless it's a sad attempt to get attention. You, Devon, and Andi have all impressed me with the way you behave toward your readers.

  7. Wise, wise words, Shawn - and not just for new writers. Plenty of established writers should read this and think about it.

    There are authors who I will never read again because I don't want to be attacked by the author or the author's minions when I post my thoughts on Goodreads. There are authors I've never read and never will read because of how the author has treated other readers.

    And this is SO going into linkity for next week.

  8. Thanks Eyre and Chris.

    Yep we've all seen it and all we can do is shake our heads. And yeah some of those rabid fans are almost worse! I can see why it might be tempting to defend your favorite author, but honestly that always ends up ugly too.

    And thanks for including my post in your linkety too, :)

  9. Thank you for this, Shawn. You've summed up my thoughts on the subject perfectly.

    It makes me cringe when I see authors making snarky remarks or outright attacking people who didn't like their books. Speaking as someone who's had her fair share of bad reviews - yes, of course they hurt. They especially hurt when the reviewer gets the facts wrong! But reviews don't exist merely to stroke an author's ego - and what one reviewer hates, the next one will probably rave about.

    And when all else fails, we can always bitch to our best friends about it in private email. :)

  10. Thanks for stopping by, Cat. And yep, you and I feel exactly the same about it.