(Stupid) Author Meltdowns

Recently, a rather unpleasant post by an author on her Facebook page came to my attention. It pretty much amounted to a kvetch about how her latest book didn’t do as well as she wanted and that her readers asked a lot of questions that they should just put through Google.

On the one hand, I can see some of her side of it. Yes, I’m sure being asked some of the same questions over and over again can get tiresome. Does that give someone the right to be a dismissive jerk to  people who have probably paid good money for at least one of his or her books and want to buy more? In a word, no.

And why? Because it’s not only snooty and ill-tempered, it’s self-destructive to an incredible degree of stupid.

The author in question made an additional point in her post that she would have done well to consider: being a successful writer today is about a lot more than just writing. The relationship between author and reader can sell books every bit as much as the quality of the writing itself, and putting that connection through the shredder amounts to career suicide.

And a nasty sentiment with the longevity of the written word is just the way to do it.

What should have amounted to nothing more than a passing thought is now a matter of public record. Even with the post gone, it’s been archived on different sites and blogs, just waiting to come up when her name is typed into–yup, you guessed it–Google.

That’s a lot of brand damage that could have been avoided with a prepared e-mail to answer those repetitive questions. Or direction to a site FAQ. Or, y’know, a couple deep, cleansing breaths and a polite response.

Because as much as she complained about her latest book’s debut, I have a feeling the next one may do a whole lot worse.

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About prutigli

Patrick Rutigliano grew up on a steady diet of comic books and horror movies. Making his first sale to Permuted press in 2007, he has since placed stories with several publications in addition to his first collection, Black Corners of a Blood-Red Room. The Untimely Deaths of Daryl Handy is his first independent release. During his off time, Patrick can usually be found attempting to recreate foreign cuisine, sacrificing cardboard to his cats, and having spirited debates with his wife over the failings of Disney villains.
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4 Responses to (Stupid) Author Meltdowns

  1. Patrick,

    I have to write to say your words are insightful… words of wisdom!
    I believe you went through a lot of great situations when someone releases a book, and addressed the situation in a wise manner.
    I’ll highlight one point you raise which I think is especially apropos — it’s self-destructive to an incredible degree of stupid.

    That’s the barometer – if your behavior can demonstrably be proven to be self-destructive under normal circumstances… and you still are hell bent on doing it… then Patrick’s advice is absolutely mandatory — a couple deep, cleansing breaths and a polite response.

    Some of the worse mistakes I’ve made in my writing career was when I was on A ROLL… and needed to follow through with delivering something witty, borne from anger and was destructive… as well as being self-destructive.

    Artists feel things emotionally, often times more than your average person (but perhaps even less than your average reader, which we should always keep in mind). The frustrated, angry charged writer is often times carrying a lethal weapon, but as Patrick points out, often times the weapon is a razor sharp boomerang.

    • prutigli says:

      Well-said (that boomerang is an apt comparison indeed). Another thing that really bothered me is that she never issued any kind of apology even after her publisher told her to remove the post and she’d had time to cool off. That really should’ve been the first step forward past that point with her fans…

  2. christawojo says:

    Thanks for brining this up. One day of PMS can ruin your author brand. Think before you post.

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