Archive for July, 2012



What Stace had to say on Monday, July 30th, 2012
Bringing It Home

NOTE: For the next few days I am turning my blog over to my dear friend Auntie Specialsnowflake,* who will teach new authors everything they need to know about Promoting Their Books, Making Themselves Famous, and WINNING THE INTERNETS.** I urge you all to follow these tips to the letter. I think we’ve all seen recently how well this works. Fame and money will soon be yours!

Well, yes, Auntie skipped posting on Friday. Because unlike you people, she actually has a life. So there. You see, being the enormous Bestselling Author that she is, she is simply inundated with requests to do tours and sign autographs and all of that; she is hounded everywhere she goes, just like all us Bestselling Authors are. (Yes, we are recognized in public ALL THE TIME, because no one is more recognizable and celebrity-like than Authors.)

Anyway. Let’s get to your own blog, shall we? And how to use the momentum you’ve gained through Auntie’s special program of sockpuppets, insults, lies, threats, and general tantrum-throwing to truly cement your place in the Authorly Stratosphere.

Why is your own blog so important? Because, duh, if you don’t take the battle to your own blog, you run the risk of the situation–and the ATTENTION–dying down. Also, being on your own blog will add credence to your lies about how many people are looking at you/your post and how they’re all rushing to buy your books in support of it. If you’re on someone else’s blog how could you know this? But on your own…hell, even if the hit counter you have up indicates only, say, 12,000 hits more than it showed when the whole mess started, you can still easily claim 25,000 people checked out your site and blog, and of course, most of them bought your book. This always fools the readersheep. But of course, if it’s not on your blog you can’t lie. And we can’t let that happen, can we? Noooo.

So. You start by writing your own blog post, in which you simply tell the truth and nothing but the truth about how those evil readersheep have injured, damaged, and hurt you personally. How they have ganed up on you and left you bereft. How your innocent attempt to point out the error of their ways–an attempt those ungrateful bitches will never admit how much they appreciate, but we all know they do deep down because all idiots like having their idiotude pointed out. How the hell else are they going to learn, right?–has suddenly snowballed into the most vicious type of aggressiveness.

This will be 100% true, because we all know how the readersheep run their carefully orchestrated campaigns. Auntie believes they have learned to do this by studying the writings of General George S. Patton, because there is of course no way they’re smart enough to orchestrate something of this nature on their own. Hence, you have a whole cabal of readersheep, sitting in front of their computer screens, overeating in a vain effort to silence the gnawing pain of Not Being An Author Like You and cackling madly while they shout, “I’ve got you now, you magnificent son-of-a-bitch! I READ YOUR BLOG!!”

Now, for the first time ever anywhere, Auntie will outline for you the exact methods these readersheep mafiosi use to discredit and attack you:

If Readers catch up to you in a dark alley one day, you are done for

*They quote you. All over the internet. You’ll find your words in places you did not put them. This cannot be countenanced, and is proof that they hate you and all Authors. (It also gives you the opening you need to start adding “You’re violating my copyright!” to your list of legal threats. This will terrify them.)

*They will comment on the things they quote. Just as if they have the right to interpret anything you say. It’s another show of their arrogance, like their stupid misinformed twaddle about your book, which they are obviously just not smart enough to understand.

*They will actually discuss their interpretations of your comments. I know. Something must be done to stop this nonsense. Everyone knows that whatever you say on the internet is intended for your eyes only, or for those of your close circle of friends. No one else has the right to look at your words. This is especially true because you are an Author, and baby, if they want to read what you write they should pay you. Unless of course it’s one of the posts you write based on the following advice, in which case they should be strapped to a table and left there with only your posts to read until they agree to concede that you are far, far better than they can ever hope to be.

*They may put your books on Mean Shelves on Goodreads. Like “Won’t Buy” or “Author Behaving Badly.” Like they have any right to judge the behavior of an Author and make any sorts of buying decisions based on it. You and your book are completely separate things and they are beholden to completely ignore anything and everything about you as a person and just shut up and buy your book. (Again, unless of course they love you. Then they should buy all of your books and give them great reviews simply because that is the sort of support they owe you.)

“Auntie,” you say, “I see this whole bad-shelving thing, but I admit, I’m curious why it matters so much.”

Ah, you poor little thing. I pat you on the head. It matters because the readersheep see even a single instance of such shelving and immediately decide that no matter how much they may want to read your book, they never ever will. All it takes is one to destroy your publishing career forever (there are numerous case studies that support this). The Readersheep know this, so they do this “shelving” thing just because they have nothing better to do and it amuses them to destroy those who have achieved things in life. Remember, just by virtue of writing some words and self-publishing them, or maybe signing a contact with a brand-new epublisher (that means they’re going to show all those big mean established houses!) you are automatically a great success in life.

I repeat, readersheep are incapable of making their own decisions. What one says, thinks, or does, all the others say, think, or do. Period.

ALL of these things can and should be addressed on your own blog. I recommend you begin by using that most mature and guaranteed-to-win argument ever: They Started It. Hey, if they hadn’t been mean about you, you never would have been forced to jump in and defend yourself, right? And they did that knowing how much it could hurt and harm you. They did it just to ruin your life and, especially, to attract your attention. That’s all they want, is for you to notice them.

So first, you point this out. How you were attacked and wounded. Say whatever you want, because the fun isn’t in this initial post–although you must make clear how hurt you are, and how disappointed that they have failed in their responsibility to you–will come in the comments. See, at least one Readersheep is bound to take umbrage at this. Like all stupid people, they get very offended when their stupidity is pointed out to them, even gently. Which you will not be, if you know what’s good for you, because gentleness doesn’t sell books.

So one or two of them will make some moronic comment about how disrespectful you’re being. This is typical of them; they try to make everything about themselves when we all know it’s actually about YOU. Simply let them know that you’re not falling for their attempts to pretend they’re the injured party. You know why they’re on your blog, and it’s because they’re having too much fun attacking you to go away. All you’re trying to do is set the record straight and here they are quoting you and picking at you like the dirty vultures they are.

One or two other Authors–well, I hesitate to say they’re worthy of the title, because all true Authors will see things the way you do–may attempt to get you to remove your post. They will pretend this is because they care and want to help you. This is utter bullshit. They simply do not want you to steal their thunder, because they themselves have been planning a similar Surefire Publicity Campaign and you’re stepping on their territory. Either that, or they’re just kissing ass, hoping the readersheep will see them and buy their books. They do this because they’re just as stupid as the readersheep. Readersheep never buy books from authors who support them, because they have no respect for such a stance. Trust me on this one.

Your post must contain a large amount of self-justification and references to both the stupidity of the readersheep AND how many better things they should have to do AND their bad taste. AND, of course, their meanness, which is what this is all about. A good way to do this is to mention the names of other, more famous Authors, thus implying a bit of modesty and pathos by admitting that, for example, you are not as famous as Stephen King, which means they are extra cruel to attack you. You could of course use J.K. Rowling instead of King; this is especially good if you refer to her as either “JK Rowlings” or “JK Rawling/s.” (Same for calling Stephenie Meyer “Stephanie Mayer,” or similar. All of these are guaranteed to make the readersheep see you as the delicate flower you are, and they will understand how little you deserve to have them express an honest opinion about your book that is not 100% positive. Or anything you do or say.) Once again, it proves that you’re not a crazy egotist, you’re not unable to accept criticism, you’re just a sensitive and extremely talented little snowflake trying as hard as she can to make it in this big scary world, and the readersheep have unjustly targeted you for ruination simply because they get off on such things. Don’t forget to mention all of the things we covered before: the health problems, how important your book is to you, how you’re a good person and they are not, how you don’t deserve such cruelty just for having a dream, etc. etc.

Now–if you’re lucky–you’ll find your blog post linked to or discussed elsewhere. Good for you! You’re becoming a Real Celebrity. Wheaties will be calling you any moment to get your picture on the box, so leave those phone lines open. Most of these posts will be readersheep pretending to be upset by what you’ve said. Do not fall for this. They’re talking about you because your name is now tattooed on their very souls, and they have already begun the process of buying multiple copies of every book you’ve ever written. Deep down they are hugely impressed by you.

But you must at first pretend you don’t know this is the case. You also must–and this is so, so important–NEVER LET THE MATTER DIE. EVER. The name of the game is “Attention at Any Cost,” and you must make them pay for what they’ve done to you. Make the biggest stink you can. Enlist your sockpuppets to start leaving abusive comments on every post on their blogs. They’ll never know it’s you. Threaten them some more. Apply more pathos.

If you’re *really* committed to becoming a huge Bestseller, you’ll try the following:

*Write more blog posts. Write several a day, exposing them for the scum they are. Discuss in great detail how they gang up and bully Authors like you, who did nothing to them except try to share a piece of your heart with the world.

*Make great and excessive use of “LOL” or “< g >” or “HAHAHA!” I recommend “LOL” for most situations. And most of the time what you’ll want to use “LOL” for are things that are not only not funny, but that no one would ever consider funny EVER. For example, you could say “Oh, well, I guess I’m just a jerk that way LOL” and it’s not really funny, but one can see where the “LOL” just might fit in as an indicator of sarcasm or you being asshole-y-ish gleeful about your assholehood. But that’s not what we want here. So try to think in terms of things like, “Sorry I have to go eat dinner LOL” or “My phone is ringing LOL.” Remember, if it makes sense or is something any actual human being would actually laugh at, “LOL” is probably wrong. I recommend “LOL” and “< g >” also for when you’re being a straight-up dick. Like, “I guess I should listen to what you dumb bitches think < g >” or “Go get a life you miserable cunts < g >.” That way you can later pretend you were joking and man, it’s not your fault they have no sense of humor. (“HAHAHAHA!” is best left for threats.)

*Take screenshots of their comments and post them out of context. It doesn’t matter if they’re quoting you calling them fiendish fuckheads. The point is, you have an image where one of them says the phrase “fiendish fuckhead.” Therefore they called you that and no one can prove any different. (Make sure you delete their comment immediately after screenshotting it.)

*Make up other screenshots/posts. The beauty of allowing anonymous comments on your blog is that YOU can post anonymously, too! Of course, you’re already doing so with your supportive sockpuppety friends, but don’t overlook the potential there. You can easily post attacks to yourself for all to see. And once again, not only can no one prove you’re not doing this, they’re too sheeplike and dumb for the idea to even occur to them!

*Don’t just use anonymous sockpuppets, either. Use some who pretend to be your literary agent, or who claim to be lawyers or publishing insiders. If you’re with a small enough publishing house, you can possibly get an editor or higher-up from there to come and go batshit all over the place, which will prove to the readersheep not only how much said publishers believe in your talent, but how important and trustworthy their judgment is. Which, duh, is a lot.

*Inform everyone that you’re receiving private death threats and are talking to the police. Tell them you’ve handed over all of their private information to the authorities (as well as, of course, your own attorney who will need it for those slander suits). This will not only invoke their sympathy and make them see how they’ve gone too far, it will also prove to them your omnipotence (don’t worry about the potential logic issue with this; they certainly aren’t capable of seeing it). As they cower in fear, your name–and book covers!–will be imprinted on their brains, forcing them to buy your books even if they don’t think they want to. They do. Why? Because YOU are dominant, and you have proven it, and now they will submit. Readersheep, being weak little fools, are guaranteed to roll over and do what you want once you take a firm hand.

*Get your friends to keep commenting on your blog and any other that discusses the situation.

*Hunt down every comment they make about you anywhere. Discuss them all with your sockpuppets in detail. Post long blog posts about them.

*Don’t forget to punctuate all of this with more statements about how hugely your sales numbers are rising with every passing second, how they have all made you famous, and you couldn’t pay for that kind of publicity so you thank them. This will make them feel foolish and, of course, prove to them that they have been outsmarted. That works especially well if you begin informing them that THIS is what you expected all along, that you orchestrated the whole thing just to expose them and their evil scheming, and that they have played right into your hands and showed the world who they truly are. THE WHOLE WORLD NOW KNOWS THEY SUCK AND ARE HATEFUL HATERS. HAHAHAHA!

Saying this is proof that you are a Winner

*And, as your last, bold move to Win It All, you must delete everything. Just delete it.

This will leave them guessing and wondering, delighted and amazed. This will leave everyone talking about you. You’ll become a legend: the Amazing Vanishing Author. They’ll debate about you for YEARS.

And you will have cemented your future forever. You, dear Author, are a hero.

TOMORROW: AUNTIE WILL ANSWER YOUR QUESTIONS! SO IF YOU HAVE ONE YOU HAVEN’T YET ASKED, SEND IT IN OR LEAVE IT IN COMMENTS!

*Do I really have to explain that this is satire? Please tell me I don’t.
**This does not work. Ever. This is for entertainment purposes only.

What Stace had to say on Thursday, July 26th, 2012
The Most Important Battle You Will Ever Fight

NOTE: For the next few days I am turning my blog over to my dear friend Auntie Specialsnowflake,* who will teach new authors everything they need to know about Promoting Their Books, Making Themselves Famous, and WINNING THE INTERNETS.** I urge you all to follow these tips to the letter. I think we’ve all seen recently how well this works. Fame and money will soon be yours!

Auntie would like to thank you all, first, for your comments. Of course, because most of you are readersheep she takes your compliments as only her due, but it is nice to see some of you finally growing up and accepting that your job is to support authors in any way you can. It’s not like you have anything better to do, after all.

So let’s get right to it, because this is–and Auntie is not being modest–THE MOST IMPORTANT BLOG POST YOU WILL EVER READ IN YOUR LIFE EVER. EVER. Why? Because contained in this post are the secrets to making yourself an International Author Superstar. Now first, a quick apology; I’d intended for this post to be all about you on your own blog, but it occurs to me we missed some steps, so it’s a bit of a mix.

Okay. You’ve done The Right Thing (in other words, Everything Auntie Advises) and responded to some reviews, calmly and rationally pointing out where the reviewer has been neglectful in her sacred duty to promote authors, where she has been mean about you personally by saying she didn’t like something in your book, where she is an idiot, where she doesn’t have the right to say such things because she is just a readersheep and not an Author, and where, well, she’s a bitch and it would probably be best for the world if she would just shut the hell up and let people with actual brains–that is to say, Authors and not readersheep–get about the business of doing things with books.

That’s a good start. As I explained before, the Readersheep are probably making little rumblings at the moment about you, but secretly they are superimpressed by you. And, far more importantly, the rest of the world supports you wholeheartedly.

But what to do about those readersheep making those rumblings? How can you prove to them that you are not only more special than they are, you are smarter, more important, more deserving, and a wonderful person to boot? How can you make them all give you your due?

First, you must threaten them. This is a surefire way to make them see how serious you are, AND to make them respect you. See, in the readersheep mind, authors are mythical figures of power, much like Goddesses. (Yes, they hate them, the way frustrated toddlers hate the Mommy who won’t let them stick a fork in the toaster. Which, believe me, those readersheep would probably do that if they could figure out a way to either attract more attention to themselves by doing so, or blame an Author for it.)

This means a threat coming from a Real Live Author is, well, just about the most terrifying thing that can possibly happen to them. Remember, they talk a big game because of their fanatical hatred for people of talent and worth in this world (which they are not), but really, they’re a cowardly, timid little bunch, given to erupting in vapors at the faintest hint that an Author is On To Them.

There are a whole bunch of people out there who will advise you not to threaten other people, or never make threats you can’t back up, or whatever. They are all a bunch of pussies. Authors who are afraid to threaten readers? Well, Auntie has a name for them, and that name is “Failure.” Threats are one of the best ways possible to draw attention to yourself, and attention automatically equals book sales!

The best way to start this is with legal threats, especially ones about slander. Now, some people will claim there is a difference between slander and libel, the first being spoken and the second written. They’re all morons. Everyone knows there is no difference at all, if “libel” is even a real word, which I bet it is not. Trust me, nothing will strike more fear into the hearts of the readersheep than you threatening to sue them for slander. And nothing will impress all of the others more, either. Your accusation of slander is like…like a calling card, a secret Code Word that lets the whole world know that you are a person not to be messed with.

You can make this even more impressive by mentioning that you have already spoken to your lawyer (or “attorney,” if you want to be really fancy) and he has assured you that they are in fact going to jail for a very long time because of the cruel things they’re saying. They will RUE THE DAY!

“But, Auntie,” you say, pathetically. “I don’t have a lawyer!”

First, that matters not one iota. You might know that and I might know that, but the readersheep do not. Because they are so very gullible and empty-headed, it will never even occur to them that you could possibly not be telling the truth. Merely mentioning the word “lawyer” will strike fear into their hearts. Second, Yes, you do! You just don’t realize it. You see, simply by virtue of being An Author On The Internet, you are in fact a fully qualified attorney, granted the ability worldwide to give extremely accurate legal advice on any and every aspect of the law.

YOU are the only attorney you’ll ever need:

Being a lawyer is so easy!

Now, that should take care of it. Not only should they immediately stop being meanies, but once again, you will have so impressed them all that they will immediately buy your book. It’s like some sort of Readersheep Mysticism, wherein your book sells copies simply because your name has been seen (and you’ll make mention of this later).

But what if it doesn’t? Occasionally you may come across some readersheep who are so invested in trying to make themselves look good that they will pretend not to be impressed by your legal threats.

This is where you reach for a handful of other useful phrases/threats, which I have helpfully illustrated for you below. You may want to print this image out and hang it on your wall, as a handy-dandy guide to Winning The Internets:

Any one of these is GUARANTEED to make the readersheep cry

Now, remember, all of this is being backed up by your friends and sockpuppet accounts. It’s especially useful if those accounts interact with each other, applauding and backing up, and ganging up on whomever opposes them. Also, keep in mind that as a Real Author, you know for a fact how little information is conveyed by things like syntax, word choice, phrasing, grammar and punctuation, etc. So there is no need to try to give your sockpuppets different “voices.” The one thing readersheep do not know how to do is interpret or analyze text; well, we know that, don’t we, because if they were so good at reading they wouldn’t have disliked your book to begin with! There is no possible way they will catch on to the fact that not only do you always say things like “for all intensive purposes,” five brand-new commenters with no internet footprints do the exact same thing!

Oh, dear! I almost forgot the importance of a thing Auntie likes to call “lying.” The beauty of the internet is that not only can no one ever prove you’re not telling the truth about things, but they won’t even GUESS! Readersheep believe everything they’re told, automatically. So when you make your breathtakingly mature and clever comments, make sure you insert some of those “lies.” A couple of them are already in the museum-quality illustration above, but here are a few more:

“My blog gets thousands of hits a day already.” This shows how important you are, and that you don’t need the good opinions of these particular readersheep. Thus proving that you’ve visited them on this particular occasion just to gently correct their mistakes and shower them with the golden joy of your attention, which they crave. I cannot emphasize enough how impressed they will be, how much this will immediately make them realize that they too need to jump on the bandwagon and buy your books. We call them “readerSHEEP” for a reason, and that reason is they have no decision-making capacities of their own and immediately do whatever they’re told, or whatever the other readersheep are doing.

“I am a Bestselling Author.” There is no way for anyone to check up on this, and readersheep are always impressed by an author of whom they’ve never heard making this claim. Hey, you didn’t say where! And nobody can make you, either. You are, after all, the Best Selling Author In Your Home, are you not? You get bonus points if you have ever hit an Amazon list that is so narrowed down that there are only a dozen books that could even possibly be on it. That totally qualifies. You are definitely on a par with Stephen King [we’ll get to him tomorrow], J.K. Rowling [her too], and Stephenie Meyer, and deserve just as much in the way of awe and accolades for the fact that your book sold ten copies on that one Tuesday when you had ten friends all go buy it at the same time so you could call yourself a Bestselling Author. Once again, the word “Bestselling” immediately tells the readersheep that you are a serious genius, a force to be reckoned with, someone whose very existence demands respect. The subtle blessed aroma of Bestsellerhood will drift over them, much like those sex pheromones, and make them see you in a totally different, totally respectful, light. They’re messing with a Bestselling Author, you see, and everyone knows Bestselling Authors have the power to get them fired from their jobs with just one phone call, or make lead into gold, or change the weather using only their awesome brain power. Oh, and the Bestselling Author can immediately blacklist any other person from anything to do with publishing, too, which means no more ARCs for those sleazy freeloading readersheep who are, after all, nothing more than a bunch of thieves. Just like those scumbags who use the library.)

“I have sold movie right/I am about to sell movie rights.” Again, no one can possibly check up on this. And the readersheep will be so impressed they will immediately rush to buy your book because, hey, if somebody else they’ve never met likes it, they will too!

“I have Another Secret Pen Name under which I write huge bestsellers that you all love.” Now, this one works especially well if you are an author starting an epublishing house (and Auntie is considering a post especially for those people, who clearly need her help), but it is worthwhile in this situation as well. Reason being that it is conclusive proof that the review isn’t about your book but about YOU; this is personal for them and nothing they say will ever prove it is not. Because it is.

At this point, people will be talking about you ALL OVER THE INTERNET. Everyone in the whole world now knows your name, even people who use the internet exclusively for porn and buying shoes. Even, in fact, people who have no internet connections. This will immediately translate to sales (or, as the Real professional Authors call them, “sells”), and it is time to begin pointing this out. Good phrases include:

“You guys are just selling my books for me, HAHAHAHAHA!”

“Keep going! You should see my sales numbers (or “sells,” of course) increasing! HAHAHAHAHA!”

“My sells have doubled/tripled/fourthupled since your review went up! HAHAHAHAHA!”

“Hollywood producers have started calling me! HAHAHAHAHA!”

“You guys are totally proving how mean you are! Go ahead, show everyone! HAHAHAHAHA!”

“You are totally making me famous! HAHAHAHAHA!”

Or, if you want to really strike fear into the hearts of the readersheep:

“I AM GOING TO EXPOSE ALL OF YOU FOR THE LYING LIARS YOU ARE AND IT WILL DESTROY YOUR ENTIRE LITTLE WORLD BECAUSE EVERYONE WILL SEE YOUR EVILHOOD! HAHAHAHAHA!”

You see…

And don't ever forget it.

Sadly, I did not really get to your own blog. But I sort of did, because all of these tips can be easily modified to use there. There was just too much to cover here. I’ll do that tomorrow.

ANOTHER NOTE: Auntie Specialsnowflake is happy to answer questions and give advice on any sort of publishing subject. Just use the contact form on the website here. I’ll pass your questions along and post answers as we go or in a separate post or whatever, depending. Auntie already has a question or two in the queue, so keep ‘em coming!

*Do I really have to explain that this is satire? Please tell me I don’t.
**This does not work. Ever. This is for entertainment purposes only.

What Stace had to say on Wednesday, July 25th, 2012
The Internet is a War That Must Be Won

NOTE: For the next few days I am turning my blog over to my dear friend Auntie Specialsnowflake,* who will teach new authors everything they need to know about Promoting Their Books, Making Themselves Famous, and WINNING THE INTERNETS.** I urge you all to follow these tips to the letter. I think we’ve all seen recently how well this works. Fame and money will soon be yours!

Well! I apologize that it took me so long to get today’s post up. I’ve had to talk my children–yes, Auntie also has children–down from the ledge after I mentioned “reader bloggers” to them. I cannot tell you what a mistake it is to even let young children know such beings exist in the world. In fact, my children, after they came out from under the bed, asked me if they could draw a picture of these “reader bloggers” as a way of working through their terror. I think I should share that image with you, so that you understand this is not a joke. Reader bloggers are out there, and they are hideous:

My seven-year-old sobbed as she drew this.

Reader bloggers are a special kind of evil, you see. Not only do they insist on sharing their opinions of books with other readers, they actually seem to think they have no responsibility to authors in doing so, even though–again, as we all know–due to the nature of readersheep, a single poor review from a book blogger will destroy a book’s publishing chances forever, whereas a positive one automatically rockets that book right to the top of the New York Times Bestseller list. This is documented fact, you guys. Auntie wouldn’t lie to you. EVERY book ANY review blogger out there likes is a shoo-in to hit every list there is, and most likely made into a movie, and every single book ANY review blogger does not like automatically goes nowhere and does nothing. Thus ending that author’s career forever.

And yet these “bloggers” still refuse to accept that it is their job to only give good reviews, and that we Published Authors are better than them in every way. I mean, come on. We may be self-published, or published with some tiny micropress run out of a feed store by intellectually challenged fools who cannot properly use punctuation, or published with a small respectable epress, or commercially published; it doesn’t matter. Once a book is out there we are automatically on a par, in both talent and the level of recognition we deserve, with Pulitzer Prize winners. Somebody out there wanted to read your book. That means you are royalty.

And royalty must behave like royalty. This is where our Advanced Promo Tips begin.

First, remember that just like the headline says, the internet is a war. One you can–and should, and will!–win. Nothing in the world is more important than this victory. You MUST NEVER GIVE UP. Second, remember that just by participating, you ARE winning, because–and for some reason readersheep never understand this, but that’s only what we’d expect, isn’t it? Like we can expect the likes of them to “understand” things–every single click on your blog or Goodreads account, or reply to you, or mention of your name, equals ONE SOLD BOOK! Maybe even a dozen! Or a hundred! The readersheep, you see, cannot stop themselves from buying every book whose title they hear, unless of course they hear about it through a single bad review in which case forget it, your career is over.

You see:

This is the 100% truth and everyone knows it

“Okay, Auntie Specialsnowflake,” I hear you saying, “This is all well and good, and you of course are a genius, but when do we get to the nitty-gritty? Tell me how to defeat the readersheep, win the internets, and become famous!”

Okay. I will. First we’ll discuss the Importance of Replying to Reviews, and the proper way to do it.

First, as I mentioned yesterday, of course you should reply to your reviews. All of them. Every single one. Readersheep have to know you’re watching them. This will intimidate them and Make Them Do Your Bidding, which is the whole point of writing a book in the first place. You must get them to change their reviews, or at the very least let them know that you are on to them. They don’t fool you; how could they, when they are so dumb and you are so smart?

So, again much like those Conquistadors in my last post, you may at first encounter resistance to your superiority and an unwillingness to see the light. Don’t worry. The Conquistadors had smallpox, and you too have a strong arsenal of weapons:

1. Your comment itself. Yesterday I mentioned a little bit about what you should say, but let’s get into specifics, shall we? I personally think the best tack to take is the “You’re MEAN!” method. This consists of, well, telling the reader how mean she is. She will definitely see the error of her filthy, filthy ways, especially if you point out any of the following:

*Her review made you cry

*You have a family to support and she has just snatched food from the mouths of your starving children by publicly saying what she didn’t like about your book

*You have health problems and she has just exacerbated them. You will probably have a stroke or something and die and it will be all her fault. It’s good if you mention what a struggle life is for you and what a personal triumph it is for you just to type words on a page because of the constant pain you suffer from living in a van next to the nuclear power plant, and how your only comfort is the soft glow of your cat at night as you lay your head on the burlap sack you are forced to use as a pillow.

*She obviously doesn’t understand what it’s like to be an author, because, of course, she doesn’t. Readersheep understand nothing of what life is like for Artists and Other Sensitive And Special People; they have all the empathy and imagination of a dentist’s drill. She doesn’t realize how important your book is to you. It’s beneficial here to discuss how your characters talk to you, how they are more real than anything else in the world, how you can’t help writing because those people in your head claw and scratch to get out and if you don’t write you’ll wind up covered in blood in an alley somewhere from being attacked by them because you have zero control over anything you do, think, or feel. If they realize your characters are real people to you, they will feel even worse about being so cruel and cavalier in their petty judgment. They will realize that not only are YOUR feelings hurt, but YOUR CHARACTERS’s feelings are hurt.

*As a subsuggestion, it’s always good to use the phrase “the book of my heart.” Once readers see that it is not a book being reviewed, but YOUR VERY SOUL AND THE REASON YOU EXIST ON THIS EARTH, they will back down. (At least they better, but that’s for tomorrow’s post.)

*She is obviously jealous because she isn’t published. I promise you it’s true. ALL READERS WANT TO BE WRITERS, AND ALL READERS HATE YOU. This is axiomatic. They see us authors, floating on clouds of Writerly Success, and the tumult of wicked jealous sickness that festers inside them simply cannot handle it. They explode, and what flies out of them is like the filth in Pandora’s box. This is the only way they can get revenge on us for achieving successes they themselves will never have. It doesn’t matter how well-educated or successful or fulfilled they are in whatever they do, the simple truth is that because they have no written a book their souls are shriveled and black with rage and pain, they cry into their pillows every night, and they know, deep in their hearts, that they are Failures.

So don’t feel bad about anything you say to them. Contrary to the lies those lying liars tell, their reviews are NOT just ways to share their opinions with other readers. They are letters written directly to you (remember, everything is about you), and the text of that letter—if you look beneath the superficial blah-blah-blah of their stupid uninformed opinions—is always:

AUTHOR I HATE YOU FOR BEING SO MUCH BETTER THAN ME.

Don’t be afraid to call them on it. It’s for their own good.

*It is a good idea to make sure you let typos and punctuation errors slip into your comments. This will prove that you are Just Like Them, and also that you are emotionally attached to what you’re saying–everyone knows that emotions and good writing are mutually exclusive and, indeed, that spelling correctly etc. only makes you look like a snob. One or two Readersheep may point out your errors to you. That’s a good thing, because it gives you a chance to say once again how mean they are and how they’re making it personal and that you’re only writing a comment, not a book. That underscores the contempt you have for book blogs in a subtle way, one that will be much appreciated by all.

2. Your author friends. I’m sure you know a couple of people who like you. Well, of course you do! And I bet not only are they authors too, but they are also interested in Making Themselves Rich and Famous! So they will want to help you. You must contact them immediately, and share with them the incredibly shocking and important fact that Someone Has Said Something You Don’t Like On The Internet. This will inspire them all to come along and comment, and here are some helpful tips for those comments:

*It is often good to have at least one or two of these people pretend not to know you and claim they are Just Another Readersheep, but one who–of course–loved your book. Readersheep are like zombies, you see; they are easily fooled. A few shambling steps, a blank expression, and a dull moan or two is all one needs to con them into thinking someone is one of their herd.

I asked my kids to draw a picture of "readers." This is what they did.

(Readersheep also attack in gangs–worldwide gangs very carefully organized with military precision, which is odd given their innate stupidity, but ours is not to reason why, right?–but we’ll get to that.)

Your Readersheep Decoy friend should claim not to understand why the other Readersheep are being so MEAN, or how they could not love your book, which is of course the greatest book ever written and only dumbass readersheep wouldn’t see that. It is good if they say things like, “What did Author ever do to YOU?” or “I’ve been reading this blog for years but this is GOING TOO FAR!” or, conversely, “I just found this blog and I WILL NEVER BE BACK AGAIN.” The last two are especially good because readersheep are constantly terrified that someone out there might not read their blogs, so this is bound to make them rethink their evil ways.

*Another possibility is to go ahead and have a few people admit they know you. “You don’t understand how awesome My Friend Author is and how much she deserves better” always works to make the Readersheep see that, indeed, they are not taking The Author’s feelings into account, and how very wrong that is.

Both of the above should feel free, as we discussed previously, to call the readersheep names. Names like bitch, whore, and cunt always impress the Readersheep. (It’s a good idea to keep one or two friends in reserve; they can disavow this behavior with a “Author would never tell people to say things like that!” This will make it appear as though you are indeed a good person and a great writer, but have so many fans you’ve attracted crazies. Everyone knows only famous authors have crazy fans. The Readersheep will be highly impressed by this, even if they pretend not to be.

3. Sockpuppets. Sockpuppets are EXTREMELY important. They are a valuable tool in your professional arsenal. What is a sockpuppet? A sockpuppet is…well, it’s just another highly legitimate way for you to put those dipshit readers in their places! It’s a way for you to interact with the Readersheep from behind the sweet, sweet veil of anonymity. Don’t worry; they will never see through this, ever.

What you do is create a brand-new account on whatever site it is, disavow any relationship to yourself, and post away! It’s fun, it’s free, and it’s highly effective. Any of the methods outlined above will work for you and your sockpuppet accounts–and believe you me, you can never have too many sockpuppet accounts.

4. Your own blog/Twitter feed/Facebook account. Of course. Where else would you go to indignantly point out to the world how badly you’re being treated? Your blog, Twitter, and Facebook pages are your very own little worlds, where you are the Queen. This is where you can speak directly to readers–and it has the added benefit of being not only All About You, but of giving you access to up-to-the-moment details about how many people are reading what you say–which as we all know is just another way of saying “How many people are rushing to buy your books with EVERY PASSING SECOND.” Because they totally are.

Once you get to your own blog…well, the sky’s the limit! This is what Auntie will cover tomorrow, and it’s where you start making The Big Money! Just one more day and fame, wealth, and accolades will be yours!

ANOTHER NOTE: Auntie Specialsnowflake is happy to answer questions and give advice on any sort of publishing subject. Just use the contact form on the website here. I’ll pass your questions along and post answers as we go or in a separate post or whatever, depending. Auntie already has a question or two in the queue, so keep ’em coming!

*Do I really have to explain that this is satire? Please tell me I don’t.
**This does not work. Ever. This is for entertainment purposes only.

What Stace had to say on Tuesday, July 24th, 2012
Be Rich and Famous! The Internet Way

NOTE: For the next few days I am turning my blog over to my dear friend Auntie Specialsnowflake,* who will teach new authors everything they need to know about Promoting Their Books, Making Themselves Famous, and WINNING THE INTERNETS.** I urge you all to follow these tips to the letter. I think we’ve all seen recently how well this works. Fame and money will soon be yours!

Okay, guys. We all know it’s hard to get attention out there. And we especially all know just how…well, how goddamned unfair that is, right? After all, you are special. You deserve far, far more than you’ve been getting.

Well, this is your lucky day! Because Auntie Specialsnowflake is here to help you make piles and piles of internet money, and rocket yourself to International Fame! And it will be SO EASY!

First, let’s establish a basic or two. A couple of things you need to know; The Players, as it were:

1. YOU. You wrote a book. Maybe you decided to hop on the Amazonmoneywagon and self-publish, because everyone knows if you do that you’ll be a millionaire overnight. Maybe you went the commercial route. It doesn’t really matter. What matters is:

You wrote a book, and that means you deserve huge money and fame and proves you are automatically superior to all those lesser beings who either did not write books or did not write good books (i.e. they did not write YOUR book). It especially makes you far superior to those pesky beings called “readers,” but we’ll get to them in a minute. For now, this is all you need to keep in mind:

Do not forget this

2. Now. What is it you deserve, because you wrote a book? Why, fame, fortune, adoration…just the basic things, of course. Certainly you deserve NOTHING BUT PRAISE. Which leads us to…well, The Adversary. We’ll call them readers:

Readers: Vicious, cowardly, stupid beasties. You must beat them at all costs.

I can hear you already. “But Auntie Specialsnowflake! Aren’t readers, you know, the people who give me money for my work and stuff?”

Yes. Yes, they are. That doesn’t mean you have to be nice to them, stupe. In fact, it’s best not to. Here’s why:

A. Readers are not smart, ever. They learn nothing by doing that reading thing. Certainly they are not as smart as you. Hey, I don’t see them writing books, the losers.

B. Readers cannot be trusted to recognize your talent. They can’t be trusted to always love your work and praise you. This horrifying situation must be remedied.

C. Readers–I can hardly bring myself to type this, even–cannot be trusted to keep their mouths shut when they do not like your book. They seem to think that reading your book gives them the right to say whatever they like about it, even if–man, this is hard!–even if it is not praise. The nerve of them, I know. Please sit down for a minute to get over the shock. Just breathe.

D. They compound all of these errors by thinking that just being able to read makes all of this okay, even though they have not written books of their own, and therefore cannot understand the fragile and special bond between a writer and his or her Book Baby, or all the hard work that went into that book, or how much it matters to us, or how much Mom or Dad (or, of course, Auntie Specialsnowflake) loves it. How the hell do they know what good writing is? Really. I ask you. Idiots. I bet they think they’re capable of judging whether or not a meal is well-cooked even if they are not professional chefs, or whether a car runs even when they are not mechanics, or whether an airplane flight is enjoyable even when they are not pilots, or whether an item of clothing provided adequate cover even though they are not seamstresses. Everybody’s a fucking expert these days, you know? Sheesh. I’m telling you, they are a scourge.

D. Worst of all, readers seem to not realize that their job is solely to love and promote your book–and by extension YOU. It’s like they think they’re totally separate people from us writers, like they don’t have some sort of obligation to us because we wrote a book. They actually don’t think they owe us anything at all, if you can believe that arrogance. They actually think, even, that we shouldn’t tell them what to do or treat them like we expect the deference we so richly deserve. It’s like they’re just walking egos thinking we should let them have opinions of their own or let them talk to each other about our books without us butting in or whatever. I’d as soon let my dog eat at the dinner table, I tell you that.

Luckily, there are things you can do. There are ways to get around these cockroaches-in-human-suits called “readers.” It’s not even hard. Why? Because, like I said, readers are stupid. They actually write their opinions down, on the internet, which is like an open invitation for you to respond. Why, you’re really doing them a favor with some of these things, because otherwise they might go thinking they can make their own decisions about what to read, and we can’t have that nonsense.

Anyway. Now we have the basics. Let’s get started.

The most important thing to remember is that everyone in the world sees everything on the internet every minute of every day. This is key to our promotional strategy and will make you very rich a whole lot faster. You must keep a careful eye on every single mention of your name and make sure that you control that situation totally. For example, let’s say some dumbass has the nerve to think your heroine was stupid. Now, you could just think, “Oh, too bad,” and move on. You could think “I wish I’d written her smarter,” and move on. You could think, “Well, huh, she seems smart enough to me, so oh well, I guess my book just wasn’t right for that person,” and move on.

ALL OF THESE ARE WRONG. If the above is your instinct, you are Not Ready To Be A Real Writer.

The correct response, as everyone knows, is to gently but firmly step in, tell the reader first of all that you see her review, and that she has been remiss in her duty to you by actually forgetting that she is not the person who matters in this little transaction. You are. Explain to her not only why she is wrong about your heroine, but that she was wrong to say such mean things about your book, because who does she think she is? Remind her that her opinions only matter insomuch as how they relate to you and your feelings. She should be happy you’ve done this, as it will make her see how much you care.

“But Auntie,” you say, “That’s fine for some reviews. But what if the reviewer actually, like, made a joke in her review? What if she used one of those four-letter-words that polite ladies do not use ever? What if she said more than one bad thing about the book? What if she was actually morally and intellectually bankrupt enough to hate my book? What do I do?”

Well, of course, not every bit of advice is fit for every situation. Sometimes you must be stricter with those morons. It’s perfectly okay to call them names if they hurt your feelings–after all, our teachers on the playground told us not to do that, but we learned that calling the other girl a poopypants meaniehead made us feel better, didn’t we? And if it was good enough for our five-year-old selves, it’s good enough for us now.

Remember, readers are stupid. They’re like sheep. If one reader in the world likes a book, every single other one will, and vice versa. Readers know this, which is why they never ever disagree about whether or not they like a particular book. If they see one single bad review, or even a lukewarm review, they will run en masse to buy something else. Because, being sheep, they are 100% incapable of making their own decisions based on their own tastes. They don’t even know their own tastes! Look at me, talking about “readers” and “tastes” in the same sentence. Ha ha!

This is why you must control every word said about you everywhere. When a reader posts a review somewhere, it’s like an insect flying into a spider’s web; it sends little vibrations through the whole entire internet and within thirty seconds every reader in the whole world has read that review and decided they love or hate you based on it.

But you know what else will make them love you? Standing up for yourself. Aggressively. Now we’re getting into the advanced promotional techniques, so I warn you: some of this may seem a little strange. But bear with me. You’ll be glad you did when you’re sleeping on mattresses stuffed with money, just like Don Draper. Because really…

THIS IS THE INTERNET. YOU CANNOT POSSIBLY GO WRONG BY MAKING A SPECTACLE OF YOURSELF.

Trust me.

So. Your mission is to get that dumb little bitch to change her review, right? You can’t have the readersheep seeing that your heroine is stupid. I mean, this is your livelihood! Don’t they understand it’s their obligation to make sure you earn money through writing? Jeez, you’d think they had their own families to take care of or something, or their own lives to live. Selfish, selfish, selfish, that’s all they are.

How do you do that?

There are a number of ways.

We’ve already covered responding yourself. This is a good and right thing to do. Not just because it will show that moronic reader who really matters, but because it will draw attention to you. Remember, attention is the name of the game! The more people see you, the more people who will immediately rush out to buy your book.

But what if you did, and the reader is too stupid to be grateful that you have turned your Glorious Author’s Eye onto her, and allowed her to bask in its gentle Sodium Glow of Truth. Trust me, she’s posting her review just to get your attention. Readers are attention whores, see. They pretend they’re just trying to talk about books, but really, they are desperately trying to steal your own Internet Fame. (There is only so much internet to go around.) Do not fall for their claims that this is just their opinion (we know that’s not true, due to them being a hivemind) and especially do not fall for their claims that they have a right to their own opinions. They do NOT.

See, in addition to their sheeplike, easily led “brains” (I know, it makes me giggle too), readers are sometimes incapable of accepting your superiority over them. Much like South and Native Americans who failed to immediately bow down to the Conquistadors, so readers will try to pretend that you are not better than they are, and will resist your attempts to correct this problem. This is because of their own silly insecurities, their tendency toward attention whoring, their sluggish pea-like minds, their lack of morals, their denial of responsibility, and their sick, sad need to put other people down just for achieving something they could not themselves achieve. I repeat: if readers were so damn smart they’d write their own books. AmIright? Of course I am! I wouldn’t steer you wrong.

Tomorrow we’ll get into the nitty-gritty of the battle. Don’t forget to come back, and learn everything you need to know about vanquishing those idiots who buy books and crushing both their free will and, hopefully, their personal lives. It’s nothing less than they deserve.

YOU WILL BE A HERO

ANOTHER NOTE: Auntie Specialsnowflake is happy to answer questions and give advice on any sort of publishing subject. Just use the contact form on the website here. I’ll pass your questions along and post answers as we go or in a separate post or whatever, depending.

*Do I really have to explain that this is satire? Please tell me I don’t.
**This does not work. Ever. This is for entertainment purposes only.

Special thanks to the adorable and talented and awesome Carolyn Crane for inspiring me to create my own drawings to illustrate this post rather than hunting for some online and potentially violating copyrights.

What Stace had to say on Tuesday, July 17th, 2012
But, there is cake

I have more to say about online drama etc., but I’m not going to say it today. Instead I’m going to talk about cake. Okay?

Yesterday was Mr. Kane’s birthday. And not just any birthday. His fortieth birthday (*cough* I remind you he is older than me *cough*). So, you know, that’s a Big Deal Birthday. And I wanted to do some Big Deal Stuff for it. We got him a BluRay player (well, to be fair, it was kind of for all of us) and a few other things, too.

But I wanted to do something special for the cake. First, I wanted to make a cake; well, I pretty much had to, because cakes you buy here are invariably gross and covered in fondant icing or whatever other roll-out paste icing they sell, and it tastes like shit and eating it is like trying to gnaw on the skin that develops on top of custard. After it’s been sitting out overnight. Seriously. It’s pretty much all you can find. SO gross.

So I had to make a cake, which is fine; I like making cakes. And–since we’re in Special Birthday time–I wanted to do a Special Cake, instead of just a regular vanilla cake or chocolate cake or whatever. I was going to do a pina colada cake, but since Mr. K knows I hate both pineapple and coconut he said I should make something I would like, too. So I thought and I thought, and I thought and I thought. And I thought, we miss Florida a whole bunch. And Mr. K is a Florida boy, having been born there. And this is the anniversary of that Florida birth.

And so I thought, “What about key lime cake? What if I could make it taste like key lime pie, even?”

Well. Here’s the fucked-up thing. Go try Googling “key lime cake.” Here, I’ll do it for you. Now, just look at those results. Do you know what 99.9% of them are? Boxed lemon cake mix, mixed with a box of lime Jell-O. Lemon cake mix and lime Jell-O. I ask you. Do you want to serve that to someone for a Special Birthday? Even if I could get lime Jell-O here, I wouldn’t touch that. That’s like telling someone they should eat more fruit and handing them a bag of Fun Dip. There are occasional mentions of this being great-grandma’s superspecial key lime cake recipe or a special secret old family recipe, which, you know, that’s fine if you’re a Yankee, I guess. I also found a few that were just white cakes with lime curd or key lime frosting, which wasn’t what I wanted (one that was a sort of graham-cracker cake with key lime filling & frosting intrigued me, but again, no such thing as a graham cracker here. I do want to give that one a try one of these days, though).

Anyway. Not only did the lack of recipes hurt me, the two I did manage to find called for–of course–key lime zest and key lime juice. Well. I dare you to find a key lime anywhere in England. I dare you. You won’t. And contrary to what some people would have you believe, there IS a difference in flavor and you CAN taste it.

So here I am trying to make key lime cake that tastes like key lime pie, without key limes, in England. I spent a couple of days studying the two recipes I found, and recipes for other types of cakes, and websites about the science of cakes, etc. etc.

Another complication, but a minor one: I don’t like zest, because I am very sensitive to little bits of stuff in my food. I do have lime oil, though, which I bought at Selfridge’s last month (it came in a little gift pack with lemon oil and orange oil, and I used the lemon oil last week to make the most awesome lemon bundt cake ever).

Remember, I wanted the cake to taste not just like key lime, but like key lime PIE. I wanted that particular creaminess, that sort of soft-sharp flavor that you only get with key lime pie.

All I can say about the result is that after Mr. K took a bite, he said, “It’s key lime pie!”

So here’s what I did.

In a large bowl I sifted together:

3 Cups AP flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
a slightly rounded 1/2 tsp salt

and set it aside to wait.

In another bowl, my largest bowl, I creamed:

2 Cups granulated sugar
1 Cup unsalted butter

and then added 4 large eggs one at a time (I beat each egg slightly in a measuring cup before adding)

To that wet mix I added (and mixed):

2 tsp vanilla extract
3 tsp lime oil
1/8 Cup lemon juice (this is to add tartness to the lime to simulate the flavor of key limes. If you have access to real key limes and want to use them, use 1 1/2 Tbsp of zest and 1/4 cup of juice)

In a measuring cup I stirred together:

1 Cup buttermilk
1/8 cup sweetened condensed milk

And added the flour and the buttermilk mixtures to the sugar/butter/egg mixture alternately, starting and ending with the flour.

Now. Everyone knows that real key lime pies without coloring are a sort of pale yellow-green shade of ivory, barely a color at all. I wanted to duplicate that (all the recipes I saw added food coloring to make it really green), but my batter wasn’t quite right. So I had some green paste food coloring. I touched it with my fingertip and swiped said fingertip against the beater of my electric mixer, then, well, used the mixer. It added the very faintest greenish hue to the batter. Score!

This was enough batter to make four 8″ cakes. I only used three for the layers. You know the pan-prep drill, I assume: butter it, lay down some parchment. Or use a non-stick spray or whatever combination you like (no Pam here either). These ended up taking about 28 minutes to bake at 325F, but my oven is slow and rather wonky–it’s like thirty years old, and actually has open flames at the back–so you might want to experiment.

Now, the frosting. The batter was pretty key-lime-pie-y, but I knew the frosting needed to make up for some of the lost creaminess and tanginess and “coolness.” The recipes I found called for a regular cream cheese frosting, and I like cream cheese frosting, but I also had that can of sweetened condensed milk open, and I had whipping cream in the fridge…

This is sort of a cream cheese frosting. If you’ve ever made that, or buttercream, you know it’s not really an exact science; you sort of play with it until it’s the consistency etc. you want. Also, I had no idea how much I would need so ended up making a ton. But here’s basically what I did:

creamed about 2 Tbsp of unsalted butter with 2-3 Tbsp of cream cheese (full fat)

Added a cup or so of icing sugar (it’s what they have here; not quite the same texture as powdered/confectioner’s sugar, at least so it seems to me, but I could be wrong) in 1/3 cup batches, beating well

Did that again. Somewhere in the middle of that second cup I added a Tbsp or so of sweetened condensed milk

Yummy, but not enough. So I added more sugar. Then a splash of whipping cream. Then a dab more cream cheese when it seemed that flavor was being lost. Then more sugar and another Tbsp or so of sweetened condensed milk.

All told I used about 1/3 of a can of sweetened condensed milk, about 2 Tbsp of whipping cream (basically half-and-half), about 2 Tbsp of 2% milk, about 4 Tbsp of cream cheese, and probably 6-8 cups of sugar. But oh man, this is a yummy frosting, and it absolutely MADE the cake; it added the right creamy tanginess to make it definitely taste like key lime pie.

The cake was lovely. Not dry. Not heavy. I do think next time I’ll increase the lemon juice to 1/4 cup instead of 1/8. I’m also quite curious about what would happen if I cut down the sugar a bit and subbed sweetened condensed milk for some of the buttermilk; we’ll see. I’d originally thought of subbing cream cheese for some of the butter, but was worried about that giving the cake a too-thick pound-cake-type texture; I may try that at some point, though, too.

But all in all I was quite pleased, and Mr. K. loved it and that’s what matters.

The cake (keep in mind, I am not a professional cake decorator. At all. I fail at cake decorating):

So there you go. Isn’t it nice to just think about cake for a few minutes?

What Stace had to say on Wednesday, July 11th, 2012
I don’t need you to avenge me, thanks

Guys…what the fuck is going on?

Seriously. What the fuck is going on here?

I honestly don’t even know where to begin, or what to say. I find myself growing more and more disturbed by things I’m seeing lately, on an almost daily basis. Like, to the point where I’m beginning to wonder if perhaps writers and readers simply should not interact with each other at all. Like, to the point where I’m considering withdrawing from the online world more than I already have (which, I’m sure none of you have noticed because you have full and busy lives, but is a bit).

It seems like almost every day we have yet another bag-of-douche acting like a fucking…I don’t even know what a good analogy is. Like a fucking vindictive shithead, vomiting their poo all over the internet and delighting in making other people feel bad. They claim this is justified, that they are Taking A Stand.

Guys…at the risk of Godwinning, reviewers are not Hitler. They’re not Mussolini. They’re not Pol Pot. I’m not aware of a single reviewer who has actually, say, kidnapped an author and tortured them in the basement, no matter how offensive they may have found that particular author’s book. I’m not aware of a single reviewer who has committed mass human rights offenses, or has engaged in some sort of cover-up, or has stolen money from people, or whatever other actions that might constitute, you know, actual activities a serious and definite stand should be taken against. For that matter, I’m not aware of a single book that has bombed spectacularly because some people got upset about it on Goodreads. The books that (appear to have) started this whole mess? Hardly failures.

I’ve been hanging around the online reading/writing community for seven years now (“Lane, I’ve been going to this school for seven years now. I’m no dummy.”). In that time I’ve seen quite a few authors behaving abominably. I’m only aware of one whose behavior was execrable AND whose books were not successful, but in that case, actually, I think the lack of sales has more to do with the fact that her books were utter shit (and even then, there were several poor misguided souls out there who liked them. Which is their right. I just personally thought the books were garbage).

So let’s get this straight, and let’s say it in boldface so there is no mistaking it:

You are not Taking A Brave Stand when you “out” people on the internet, no matter how rude or nasty you may think that person has been. You are not Exposing Their Crimes At Great Risk To Yourself. You are not a Miraculous Crusader For The Rights Of Others. You are not Karen Silkwood. You’re not even Woodward & Bernstein. You’re just an asshole with no perspective, to be honest.

And you should be fucking ashamed of yourself.

I’m ashamed of you. I’m ashamed to share internet space with you. You make me sick to my stomach.

Ever hear the phrase “Two wrongs don’t make a right?” Why don’t you think for a minute about what that means? Even IF–for the sake of argument–even IF we take your thesis as a given: That there is a segment of people online who secretly hate certain authors and delight in ripping them to shreds, and who get off on the sense of power they get from insulting and hurting and misrepresenting authors who they know can’t fight back, and who honestly believe they have the power to hurt the careers of those authors…

Even if we take that at face value…

How exactly is outing those reviewers on the internet HELPING anyone? How are you making yourself look like anything but a miserable, bullying piece of shit? How are you doing anything but making the tension in reader-writer relations–a tension with which I admit to being increasingly uncomfortable with every new kerfuffle–WORSE?

You’re not.

And you’re a fucking hypocrite. Outing people from behind the veil of anonymity. Yelling at people for daring to express opinions while behaving as if every word you type is precious and golden. Deciding it’s your place to attack people you deem “bullies.” (By the way, I’m also not talking about the difference between bullying and what you seem to think is bullying, and how offensive that is, and how I’m tired of seeing people hide behind the buzzword-of-the-day to justify their own complete lack of human decency.)

Honestly, I’m not just angry and sick about this. I am both of those things, intensely. I’m furious. I’m horrified.

But I’m also disheartened. I’m so tired of it all, you guys. I’m just so fucking tired of it all.

You know what? I’ve been on the receiving end of internet rage. I’ve had things I said misrepresented. I’ve gotten hate email–more than once. I’ve found people saying the most vile and hurtful things about me, lying about me. It wasn’t nice. It wasn’t fun. It didn’t feel good. It still doesn’t. I’ve seen it happen to others, too. And I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.

I’m sick of the goddamn internet feeding frenzy. I’m sick of feeling like we’re all trapped on the island from LORD OF THE FLIES.

But you know what? If it’s anyone’s responsibility to put a stop to that shit, it’s MINE. I am the product creator. I am the merchant. I am the content originator. In other words, I am the one with the responsibility to guard my public image, to guard my art, to guard my integrity, and to watch how I represent myself. You could even say–and hell, for the sake of argument I will, even though it sounds egotistical and I really don’t think of it this way–that I have a responsibility to set an example.

I cannot control the behavior of others. I CAN control my own behavior.

Here’s the thing. Have I seen situations where I feel statements or actions of writers have been taken out of context, or overreacted over? You bet your ass I have. Has it upset me? Hell, yes, it has. Has it happened to me, where something said in one spirit was taken in a completely different one? Regular readers know it has (and I won’t even discuss in this post the sexism of that situation, or of this one, though I may do that soon. Suffice to say at the moment that I’m sick and tired of the attempts made to keep women and their opinions in line while no such offense is taken when men say the same things, or of women being yelled at for their “tone” and “attitude” whereas no one does the same at men. Ever visited a heavily male site like Aintitcool? Why don’t you go take a look at the vitriol there, and say something about it? Oh, I know. Because you’re too busy being an asshole about women who dared to step off the very narrow path of behavior you deem appropriate).

But here’s the other thing.

If writers never went crazy and unloaded on readers, if they never did things like try to out them or get their little friends to vote down their reviews or report them to try to get them deleted…if writers never sent nasty emails to reviewers or threatened to name AIDS-infected prostitutes after them (because that is so totally hilarious, yo) or tried to get them banned from websites…if writers never sent emails out to their cronies asking them to write positive reviews of their books or leave comments on less-than-positive reviews on retail sites or blogs…if writers never took to the internet to bitch and moan about those stupid readers who dared to not like their books and what morons they are and how they don’t deserve to live…in other words, if the idea of a writer cheating, gaming the system, and generally acting like an entitled little shit had never occurred to anyone? If all writers behaved with integrity? If no writer had ever behaved as though readers are nothing more than their personal publicity service with some kind of duty to help them promote their work? If no writer had ever behaved as if readers have no right to express an opinion?

Well, gee…if no writers had ever behaved like that, do you think readers would be so anxious? Do you think they would interpret any sort of comment by a writer on or about a review (and keep in mind I disapprove of writers commenting on reviews at all, this is just a general question) as an attack or attempt to intimidate? Do you think all this shit would have started in the first place?

Because I kind of don’t.

The fact is, the burden is on us. No, I didn’t start writing with the intent of being a Public Figure. Yes, I do find it upsetting that writers have to be so careful what we say, not just about reviews but about anything and everything else. But hey, that’s part of the job. And it’s easy to forget that it’s not just writers. It’s not an outgrowth of “celebrity.” It’s an outgrowth of having your thoughts and opinions exposed to a large group of people. Sooner or later somebody’s going to take offense. If you say something to enough people that will happen. That’s just the way it goes. I find it upsetting no matter who it happens to; I wish and wish that we could all remember those people on the other “side” of the computer screen are people, with thoughts and feelings. Maybe they’re having a bad day. Maybe they’re lonely or sad. Maybe they’re just not thinking about everything they say with the gravity Lincoln afforded the Gettysburg Address. People make mistakes. People mess up. People forget their audience, or fail to phrase something exactly, or whatever else. I hate that people are so eager to leap onto others like a pack of wild dogs. I hate that we seem to think the internet means it’s okay to say anything to anyone, about anyone, with no consequences. But you know what? People get carried away, too.

It’s easy to look at the current climate and talk about how ugly it is. And it is. Not all of it, but a segment of it. I know I’m not the only one growing increasingly disgusted by it, increasingly uncomfortable with it, increasingly angry and upset. I know I’m not the only one who’s been seriously reconsidering my participation online. I know I’m not the only one who finds the tendency toward outright glee when someone makes a mistake, the way everyone jumps in to laugh and point, to be highly disturbing.

But the answer is not to jump in and out-disgusting the people you feel are disgusting. The answer is not to forget your responsibilities to other people. The answer is not to create a website so full of vile slime and attacks, a website that deliberately tries to disrupt lives and could potentially incite violence–a website that outs mothers with children in their homes and encourages people to harass them (think about that again for a second: MOTHERS WITH CHILDREN IN THEIR HOMES)–that it turns the stomach and then pat yourself on your smug fucking back like you’ve just Scored One For The Good Guys.

YOU ARE NOT A GOOD GUY.

You are, in fact, the opposite of that.

I’m sorry this is so disjointed, and confused. I’m sorry it doesn’t make my point as clearly as I would like. I’m just too sick and sad and angry and upset and whatever else over this. It is horrifying. HORRIFYING.

I may well discuss this more later.