Archive for the 'for writers' Category



What Stace had to say on Wednesday, June 12th, 2013
Who Takes the Chance?

Quite a few years ago I did a blog series about choosing a publisher, specifically an epublisher: what to look for, what to be wary of, that sort of thing. It’s a topic I’ve revisited now and again, though not recently (thanks to my long moratorium on discussing writing-related subjects).

But you know…I just, I’m tried of seeing something. I’ve been tired of seeing it for, oh, eight years or so now, and I grow more tired of seeing it every day, and it pisses me off, so I’m going to talk about it anyway, because there seems to be a new wave of it out there.

I am sick to fucking death of seeing bad publishers, or writers associated with them, justify their lousy treatment of writers and their unprofessionalism and their crappy business decisions and their lack of ability to perform a publisher’s number one job (which is to SELL BOOKS TO READERS) with the following phrase:

“We/they took a chance on you, so you should be grateful!”

You guys, publishers do not “take chances” on your work, at least, not in the way these people imply they do. Sure, every book is a chance they take. In the most basic sense I must concede that publishing is about taking chances, and your book could lose money.

But those publishers who stand to lose money? They’re buying the rights to publish your book because they’re pretty sure it will actually make them money*, and they’re basing that decision on quite a bit of experience and knowledge and work**. They’re buying your book because in their professional opinions it is well-written enough and interesting enough to appeal to a large audience of readers, and they want to sell it to those readers. It’s “taking a chance,” yes, but not in the sense these snippy little writer-nannies seem to mean it, whereby the author who’s getting fucked over is apparently supposed to spread wider and beg for more because hey, somebody agreed to publish their book! That means they have license to treat the author any way they want and make whatever shitty business decisions they want and the author should just shut the hell up, right?

(*They SHOULD be buying the rights because they think it will make them money, anyway; and **They SHOULD have quite a bit of experience and knowledge and work before they start acquiring books. More on that in a bit.)

The thing is, when you tell another writer that they should be grateful somebody took a chance on their book, you might as well scratch out “book” and insert “piece of shit.” Isn’t that what you’re really implying? That they should be glad somebody actually agreed to publish that crap they wrote? That it’s not really a good book or anything, so they’ve been done a huge favor and beggers can’t be choosers? That they don’t really deserve a decent, professional publisher, so they should be glad somebody agreed to “give them a chance?”

Quite frankly, if the book isn’t good enough, then doesn’t that almost by definition mean that a publisher who “takes a chance on it” isn’t a very good publisher? Because they’re publishing books that, well, aren’t good enough to be published? (It’s like a big “chicken or the egg” loop, isn’t it?) There’s no benefit to anyone in “taking a chance” in publishing a lousy book; it doesn’t benefit the writer, it doesn’t benefit the publisher, and it certainly doesn’t benefit the people the industry exists to serve: those people we call “readers,” who spend their hard-earned money on those books.

Either you think your publisher publishes good and worthy books (like yours, right?) and therefore should be providing the authors of those books with all of the benefits professional publishers provide, or you think your publisher tends to publish crappy books (except yours, I guess?) which deserve only the bare bones and everyone should just be glad they got a “chance.”

Except–and here’s the big thing–throwing a book out into the ether without promotion or decent cover art or good editing is NOT giving it a chance. It’s sort of stacking the deck against it, actually, and ensuring that most people either won’t have the “chance” to hear about it, won’t look beyond the cover, won’t look beyond the excerpt, or won’t find it to be of high enough quality to “take a chance” on other books from that publisher or by that author. Or, of course, they’ll see a review that mentions poor cover art and/or editing, and write both publisher and author off in their minds.

Being a writer means you make, and take, your OWN chances. You’re taking a chance every time you open a new Word doc and start writing. You’re taking a chance every time you submit. You’re the one who controls the quality of your book and what happens in it–don’t forget, editors are not supposed to change your book, just make suggestions. It’s your name on the cover, and what’s inside should be 100% yours. Publishers do not–should not–be the ones deigning to give your book a “chance,” the way you may agree to a date with that guy who doesn’t really appeal but seems nice enough, or the way you might give someone who’s been rude and nasty to you one more chance to make it up to you, or whatever other serious power imbalances and ambivalence are inherently implied in the phrase “give it a chance.” A publisher shouldn’t be publishing your book reluctantly. They should be snatching it up. A publisher who buys your book is not–should not be–doing you a fucking favor.

You know what you owe the people who publish your book? You owe them the text of that book, turned in on time, edited on time. That’s it. That is ALL.

Now, in the standard nature of the professional author-publisher relationship, it also behooves you to do things like not scream and yell at editors, and not turn to the internet to scream about your publisher because you found out X got a higher advance, and generally not make yourself horrendously unpleasant to work with. It behooves you to work with your editor, whose sole interest is and should be making your book the best it can possibly be. It may also behoove you–it’s not a requirement, usually, but it’s often nice–to do things like have a website or make appearances or do guest blogs or interviews or whatever at the publisher’s request, in order to help make you and your book more visible in hopes of selling more copies.

Nowhere on that list, or on any of the similar things I left off the list because of length considerations, are things like, “It’s necessary to let your editor call you an idiot and imply that you’re lucky she agreed to take on that piece of shit you think is a book,” or “You can’t forget to let various publishing staffers call you names,” or “You must sit quietly while a pack of illiterates overshare about their ladyparts in emails to you,” or “It’s important to remember that paying you is something we do out of the kindness of our hearts,” or “Never think you deserve things like distribution or for our website to work properly or for us not to behave like twats online.” Nowhere on that list are things like “Of course, by submitting your work you agree that only entitled jerks expect to be able to negotiate contracts,” or “If you think you have a right to an opinion about your work, you’re dead wrong,” or really any variation of “Be grateful we published your talentless ass, loser.”

Here’s the thing. As I said, yeah, it’s sort of true that any publisher who offers you a contract is “taking a chance,” on you. But the thing to remember is that A) You are also taking a chance, on them, and believe me, there are plenty of stories out there–a really sadly large number of stories–of authors for whom that chance didn’t work out; and B) Everything is a “chance,” if you want to look at it that way.

For example. Are you married? If you are, that means your spouse “took a chance” on you. Does that mean, in turn, that you are required to allow him/her to be abusive? That you get no say in the finances, or where you live, or how you spend your evenings? Does that mean every argument is your fault, or that s/he is entitled to cheat on you and you should shut up, sit down, and be grateful? (Yeah, I know that last one with the cheating is stretching the analogy a little. Tough.)

It doesn’t. Because the “chance” isn’t all on one side in your marriage, and it isn’t all on one side with your publisher. If your spouse tells you it is, s/he is abusive and you need to get the fuck out. Same with your publisher.

You were offered a contract–you should have been offered a contract–because your publisher thinks your work is good enough to sell. Your publisher thinks that not only will the publisher make money, but you will, too. That’s how partnership works, see, and really, to a large extent publishing is a partnership.

All that editing and cover design and stuff that amateurish publishers keep insisting they provided free of charge so you should be grateful? Yeah. Books get cover art because cover art attracts readers: you know, paying customers. Books gets editing because publishers who want repeat business don’t expect to get it by selling a substandard product–at least, publishers with half a damn brain don’t.

Another example: Say you walk into a restaurant, and the food is bad. Next time you’re considering where to eat, is that place going to be at the top of your list? Unless you’re a culinary masochist, I’m guessing no. Personally, I go to look at the websites of new publishers and look at the excerpts, and if I see more than one full of grammar/spelling/punctuation errors or clunky writing? Not only do I not buy those books, I don’t look at the others, and I write that publisher off in my head. Sure, I might check again one day, but the odds are against it. I’m sorry for the good writers (and, sadly, good writers sign with bad publishers every day, and I in no way mean to imply anything different) who are caught up with that substandard house, but my time is limited and there are too many good books out there for me to spend hours hunting through published slush piles to try to find the one or two good books in there. I’m sorry about that; sorry for the writers watching their good books sink in a heap of not-so-good ones, and sorry for me because I miss out on a story I might have loved.

I’m digressing. My point is: Quit telling writers they should be grateful that publishers “took a chance” on them and provided them–however expertly or ineptly–with the things that are the fucking job of a goddamn publisher, like editing and cover art, and provided it in the way that a publisher is supposed to, which is without charge. Oh, good, they’ve done the bare-bones minimum, so writers are supposed to be tearfully grateful for the crumbs from their table. Whoopee.

You guys, let me be blunt. You are better than that. You deserve more than that. You deserve a publisher who will provide you with the things a publisher is supposed to provide, professionally executed, and in a professional fashion. You do not need to be “grateful” that someone published you; a real, professional house is just as grateful that they are getting the opportunity to work with you. An editor doesn’t wake up one morning, grab any old manuscript from the slush pile, and decide to send a contract because, gee, they just feel like giving somebody a chance that morning (at least, a good editor doesn’t). You didn’t win some sort of lottery. You worked hard and made your book the best it can possibly be, and if a publisher contracts that book it should be because they think they can make money on it and want to work with you, not because they’re granting favors and your name was in the hat.

I repeat: They are not doing you a favor.

And if they say they are or imply they are…they’re wrong, and you deserve better.

I may discuss this more tomorrow.

What Stace had to say on Thursday, August 2nd, 2012
Your Questions II!

(Before we start Auntie would like to point out that today is the UK/Aus/IRE release of CHASING MAGIC! So, you know, please go buy it.)

This next question is extra-special, because of the level of respect shown by the readersheep in question. Good for you, little sheep! You *might* even qualify as Not Totally Stupid!

Auntie, you’re obviously a wealth of knowledge, and I know, as a moronic reader, I am completely unworthy of your time , but I wanted to thank you. I found your recent post to be a wonderful eye opener – it’s great to finally known exactly what my role as reader actually is! I am extremely grateful for you making it clear, and can’t thank you enough!

However, I have a question, and I can’t quite work out what your thoughts would be. What do you think about authors paying for positive reviews? If the job of readers is “solely to love and promote your book”, then why on earth would you pay such lowly creatures to do what should come naturally? Yet, on the other hand, would it be wise to do so – a pittance of what you will eventually be earning once the world knows you are the World’s Most Talented Author – when everyone will automatically love your book once reading this one positive review, due to the hivemind?

That’s about offering to pay for a positive review, but what about those readers who require – actually have the nerve to ask for – a fee in return for a positive review? Are these particular morons not thinking them superior to the mighty Author? Or are they providing a service, where payment, despite their zero importance, seems fair? I think it would be absolutely fascinating to know hear your opinions on such things – not only would it be great advice for authors, whether to steer clear or to take advantage of, but also to us reviewer readers, so we know how best to help our authors.

Thank you so much for taking time out from advising our godlike authors to read an email from such a lowly reader – if you managed to get this far. I would be beyond humbled to know you gave me the time of day!

Well, I did manage to get that far, but only because of how well you seem to have learned your place. Auntie has no time for readersheep who insist they matter in any way, so it’s nice to see one like you who has learned the error of her me-me-me little ways.

So let’s start at the beginning, which I know is important because try as you might you little sheep are incapable of understanding anything not perfectly linear.

First, you’re right. Authors shouldn’t have to pay for any sort of review, because duh, the free book is payment enough. Even THAT is a slippery slope, in Auntie’s opinion, because it’s frankly giving the readersheep WAY too much power, and swelling their silly little heads to mammoth proportions, to behave as if they deserve anything in return for their obligatory praise. In writing it all should work the other way around: everything for The Author, and nothing for The Reader.

However, because some traitorous authors have actually gotten into the habit of behaving as if the readersheep matter–and I don’t capitalize “Author” there because they are unworthy of it–and especially because of the, well, sheep-like nature of the readersheep which means they move blindly from one book to the next baa-baa-baa-ing as they follow their little sheep pals and buy up anything one of those pals says is any good (and I realize the incongruity of saying “pals,” as if readersheep are capable of feeling things like friendship, when in fact only hatred burns in their dark, envious little hearts)…well. I suppose sometimes we Authors must bite the bullet.

And I admit, giving them free stuff does make it easier later to inform them of their obligations. Much like Don Corleone dealing in favors, so must we be. And our retribution must be as swift, if they make the mistake of thinking they’re entitled to their own opinions.

It is rather confusing, and you being a readersheep I don’t blame you for not immediately knowing how to handle it all. After all, you are not very smart, are you? Poor little dear. What it boils down to, really, is this:

*Readersheep owe Authors positive reviews
*Whatever an Author must do to get positive reviews is justified
*Readersheep have no right to charge for positive reviews, BUT
*If Authors want to pay them for them, that’s fine, because anything Authors do is fine
*At least charging for reviews makes clear that the readersheep are not, as they claim, simply people who love books, but crazed egotists who are desperately trying to exert some sort of control over the behavior and careers of Authors
*Better that we have some paid readersheep out there to sway opinion
*Readersheep are always dumb

Auntie SpecialSnowflake, can you help me write better 5 star reviews? I want to make sure all the amazing and talented authors out there become rich and famous.

As well you should.

Auntie can indeed help, of course, and good for you for recognizing your responsibility! Here are a handy list of phrases you can use:

*The best book I’ve ever read
*Made me cry from its sheer beauty
*I felt like I was inside the story watching it all happen
*Better than {insert bestseller’s name here}
*You wont[sic] be disappointed
*Deserves a Pulitzer Prize
*I’ve never read anything so amazing
*Made me laugh, made me cry, made me cheer! {the exclamation point is very important}
*The most original story I’ve ever read
*Deserves to be a bestseller
*Deserves to be made into a movie

Any combination of those will work very well. And don’t forget, you can also check the five-star Amazon reviews for a number of self-published books to get a whole lot more of them–many of those reviews will even be written by the actual Author, so you know they’re good!

Auntie may still have a question or two in the queue, but tomorrow we may see something different here. It depends.

What Stace had to say on Wednesday, August 1st, 2012
Your Questions Answered!

(Note: This is Part One. To include all the questions would run a bit longer than I’d like, so Auntie graciously permitted me to do two separate posts. The next one will be up tomorrow.)

Auntie Specialsnowflake here! So many of you silly little readersheep sent in questions, and good for you! It is so gratifying to see how many of you acknowledge your lowly status, and that you need to modify your behavior in order to make this world a better place. Auntie is proud of you–well, as proud as she can be, considering that you still have not achieved anything of any importance (i.e. you have not written a book).

So let’s get to it!

Dear Auntie Specialsnowflake,

Readersheep want a cool, and attractive author. How can I make myself seem more cool and attractive?

Yours,
Fat and over 40. 😉

Well, Fat, of course they do! Readersheep are incapable of seeing beyond the surface of anything, which is why they’re such sad failures and why they do things like give bad reviews to books that have lots of errors, just as if writing ability matters or something (we Professional Authors know it does not). As I said before, the obvious and best answer is to steal the photo of a Canadian model from a photographer’s Flickr account. This works especially well if you repeatedly talk about how your manager wants you to get more professional photos like that done but you’re just so down-to-earth you’re not necessarily into that, and you can also mention how hard it is to find people who like you for YOU and not just because of your golden hair and “blue eyes to die for.”

However, if you cannot find a photographer whose copyright you’re ready to trounce upon in the name of entitlement (which, how silly! Of course you’re entitled!) or a model whose image you are happy to use and whose career you are happy to potentially damage, there are other things you can try.

*Along that “picture” vein, find one of yourself taken, say, fifteen years ago. Make sure that it looks like it was taken during the heyday of Glamour Shots (i.e. shiny satin wrapped around your shoulders, hair piled eight inches off your scalp, heavy makeup, lots of fake pearls; science has yet to discover any look more flattering, or one that so loudly screams “Professional Author,” as what I’ve just described) or that you are otherwise wearing clothes or a hairstyle which are seriously dated. That photo of you with big poufy bangs and a perm wearing a Rick Springfield t-shirt will do nicely.

You can also skip the “old” picture and go for one which is “artistic.” Like, say, one where so much Vaseline was smeared on the lens that you resemble nothing so much as a sort of flesh-toned amoeba, or maybe one taken from fifty or sixty feet away, or perhaps a silhouette or an image taken basically in the dark.

Don’t forget, too, that nobody says you have to post a picture of your whole face. Take a close-up of the back of your head, or your hand. Not only will this be flattering, it has an ironic “hipster” feel that will be much appreciated by the younger readersheep, who will never see through any of these ruses.

*Use hip lingo. In my last post I mentioned how valuable “LOL” is, especially when discussing things which no sane human would ever think are actually worth even a smile, much less a full-on laugh. Use “LOL” a lot. This sort of “cool code-word” will immediately clue in the kiddies that you are young and fresh!

*Talk about popular culture. Apparently there’s some young singer called “Justin Beaver” or something. Post some pictures of him. The readersheep will immediately see that you are clued into what the kids are doing these days.

*Post a lot about very personal things. Let it all hang out! Talking about your sex life is guaranteed to excite the readersheep–they have the mentality of raincoat-wearing old men in pornographic theaters, you see, a voyeuristic delight in hearing or reading about anything having to do with sex–and make them come back for more. Auntie can picture them now, drooling as you explain your latest orgasms to them. Don’t forget to totally objectify any man you may happen to write about, as in, “I ran out to the convenience store to get a drink, and the guy behind the counter was totally hot and flirted with me so much I was tempted to peel off my jeans right there and let him see what he so obviously wanted!” The readersheep will be titillated beyond belief at this, especially since everyone knows they themselves can never manage to find anyone willing to have sex with them.

*Prove that you are tough, just like they are. We all know young people today are basically animals with no brains or impulse control. Prove that you are one of them by, of course, following the advice Auntie’s already given, but also by doing things like visiting forums hosted by TV networks for their reality shows and picking fights and calling names. There are no end to the places on the internet where you can demonstrate your amazing linguistic abilities and lack of self-censoring.

*Misspellings and poor grammar. As I mentioned, this will let the readersheep know that you are one of them, casual and unpretentious. Everyone knows that only fuddy-duddies and The Olds care about such things. YOU are an artiste! Young and hip and happening, just like Rimbaud!

*Don’t forget the importance of lying. This is the internet. Nobody has to know how old you really are!

*Make sure you rant whenever you can about how awful the readersheep who don’t like your book are and how much you need the support of the readersheep who do. This will get them on your side and make them want to run around the internet attacking those who give your book bad reviews, which will in turn make it appear that you are young, popular, and cool, with legions of fans (we Professional Authors always refer to the readersheep who like us as “Fans,” btw). Win!

Dear Auntie,

The Readersheep are overrunning my sock puppet reviews on my book. They tell me my book is bad. How can it be bad when it’s over 1000 pages?!

Epically yours,

A Stenographer of the Heart

Oh, dear, Stenographer. It can’t be, of course. Your book is the best and most amazing and touching novel ever put on paper. The problem is–as deep down you know–those stupid jealous readersheep. They hate that you managed to write such an intricate and involved tale, and that you have the dedication to put such a huge number of words on the page, especially since we all know that the only other Authors who have ever managed to write that many words are people like Tolkein and Dickens and Clavell, and obviously your book puts you in their ranks.

The only way to combat such stupidity from such uneducated, snivelling, hate-filled readersheep is, of course, to report them and their reviews to whatever site they’re posting on, including web hosts. Get all of your sockpuppets to report, too. In addition, use all of their names in your next book for characters of whose lifestyles you do not approve, or who have diseases or are otherwise imperfect. That’ll show em!

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, September 20th, 2011
The Check-in

Sigh. This has happened to me a lot lately, so forgive me if I rant for a minute.

Anyone can email me. I love it when readers email me, frankly; it makes everything worthwhile and more. There’s a contact form here on the site that you can use, if you want. Or ask; I give my email address all the time, all over the place. It’s staciakane AT gmail. Go ahead. I love to hear from you. I am currently way behind on answering reader emails, yes, and for that I am horrendously sorry. But that doesn’t mean the emails themselves don’t fill me with squealy delight. They do.

Here’s what does NOT fill me with squealy delight: Emails from people who clearly have no idea who I am. Don’t get me wrong; I hardly think I’m a household name. Of course I’m not.

But at least a couple of times a week I get emails asking me if I’m interested in “developing an app,” “sponsoring a product,” “participating in” some sort of promotion or activity or whatever, or–these are my favorites–offering me their services for a guest post on the blog. See, they’re Real Professional Writers(ZOMG!1!!!), and presumably my blog is in great need of some Real Professional Writing and could really benefit from their personal flair and expertise and stuff. And in exchange, all this Real Professional Writer asks is that I link back to them/their site!

Sorry, but this is insulting. I myself happen to be a Real Professional Writer, one with more credits and experience than you, Ms. Give-me-your-blog-audience-to-publicize-myself. You’d know that if you’d bothered at all to even look at the blog you’re proposing to visit. And you, Mr. App Developer? Why exactly should I pay you to develop an “app” based on…what?

I get them on Goodreads, too; a new “friend” will send me, immediately upon my approving their request, an email with links to and info about their self-published books (sorry, but I haven’t had a single commercially published author do this) and a request that I review it. They never mention my own books; they never give any indication that they even know me as anything more than just another name on a list. Again, I don’t expect people to just know my name but I do expect them to at least, you know, look at my Goodreads page–the one they had to click on to send me the request to begin with? Their books often don’t fit into any of the types of books I’ve ever rated at Goodreads and don’t fit into UF either; it’s a form email they send to every person they can, the way spammers do (and that’s what they are, spammers). I generally reply and ask what about me specifically makes them think I’m the audience for their book, and they never respond (shocking, I know).

You contacted me. Yes, I know I’m just one email address out of many you’re spamming/just one Goodreads account out of many you’re spamming. I don’t care. Don’t contact me if you don’t have any idea what you can actually offer me. Don’t contact me if you have no idea who I am and can’t even be bothered to spend two minutes scanning my website. It’s not like information about me and/or my work is secret; I have a whole website devoted to it.

Don’t contact me if you do not have an answer to the question, “Okay, and why are you contacting me, specifically?” Because I’m going to ask. And if you don’t have an answer, we’re not doing business. Of any kind. (I will report you for spam, too. Goodreads is a place where readers can talk about books; that’s what it exists for. Those readers don’t want or deserve your contempt, and “contempt” is exactly what it is when you treat them like potential sales rather than individuals, and when you look at them and see only what they can do for you, and behave as though they have some obligation to do that. Like your desire for self-promotion is more important then their time/privacy/right to go about their business without being solicited by you. You don’t care about their actual interests or tastes, you don’t care about their likes or dislikes, you only care about getting them to buy your book. You may not realize it’s contemptuous, but it is.)

I love having my pals over here for guest posts. I’m happy to offer people guest spots if I think it’s something my readers would be interested in, and I don’t mind requests from people asking if I’d be willing to let them do a guest posts. It’s fine. Please feel free to ask. But I somehow don’t think my readers are that interested in Random Nonfic Writer’s Random Blog Posts. And I get pissed as hell when Random Writer treats me like some kind of idiot who’ll be so sparkly-diamond-eyes thrilled to have a Real Writer offer to do a guest post for me that I won’t even consider the truth of the matter, which is that they’re trying to use the years of hard work I’ve put in to build my own audience to give themselves a jump without any effort.

Having someone here on my blog to write a guest post is in essence me endorsing that person and/or their book. It’s me saying to my readers, “Hey guys, so-and-so is a pal and a good writer, and you might enjoy this.” I don’t generally do that for strangers (unless of course I was blown away by their book). No, my blog doesn’t get thousands of hits a day, but it’s a fairly solid audience; we hit the mid-four digits every week, at least (did I mention before about the weird dichotomy there? When I used to get maybe 100 hits a day, a lot more people commented. Now there are way more hits but hardly any comments. Just seems odd).

So, there you go. My little semi-rant about spam and self-promotion.

Anyway. On to other things.

Last night I got a look at the revised SACRIFICIAL MAGIC cover, and I’m really, really pleased. I’ll be showing that one off ASAP; the chick on it actually looks like she could be Chess! And it has a new sort of feel that I just…I really dig it, it’s a cool cover. Can’t wait to show it to you guys, so let’s hope I get the OK fast.

I also have the final playlist for the book, which I won’t be posting for a while yet–probably not until January or so–but I do have it all set up. Incidentally, although there was an extended exclusive excerpt of Chapter One up on Stellar Four, and although there will be an extended exclusive excerpt from Chapter Two up on Dark Faerie Tales for the Supernatural Smackdown event, I won’t be posting Chapter One in its entirety on the site until the end of February, and the first three chapters will go live the day of the book’s release.

And, there’s a new interview with me up at Novels on the Run, so go check it out!

What Stace had to say on Tuesday, September 6th, 2011
My little Writing Rules pt. 2 (This one goes up to 11!)

So yesterday, if you missed it, I posted a bit of a rant about how disappointed I am with Dr. Who (link will open in new window) these days, particularly with the writing, which seems to have traded emotional depth, story, characterization, continuity, real suspense, and pacing for cheap manufactured twists and self-aware “cleverness.” I feel like this has been going on since the first episode of Matt Smith/Stephen Moffat’s run, and it makes me unhappy.

(In the links to that post someone posted a link to a similar discussion on their blog, here–also in a new window. It’s definitely worth a read, and don’t skip the comments; there’s some good stuff there, in particular “Mary”‘s comment at 10:25.)

Anyway, using Dr. Who as a jump-off point, I’m posting my little writing rules, the things that I keep in mind when writing and the things I, well, think make a book good. (There’s a whole big disclaimer on this in the original post, so I’m not going to repeat it here. I will repeat, though, that just because I’m disappointed with the writing, and feel that it’s in general bad writing, doesn’t mean I think the Who writers are bad writers. They’re not. I’m not sure why the writing has gone off the rails so badly, but I don’t think it’s their fault; I think they’re doing the best they can with what they’re told to do.)

So here we go, with the rest of my rules.
Read the rest of this entry »

What Stace had to say on Monday, September 5th, 2011
My little writing rules

I just got finished–well, okay, I finished a few hours ago–watching the latest episode of Dr. Who (it’s Saturday night as I type this; the episode to which I’m referring is called “Night Terrors.” NOTE: There are spoilers in this post, so if you are a big Who fan and haven’t seen that episode yet, you may want to skip this until you have. Also, due to length I’ve split this post in two. It’s still long, though. Look for part 2 tomorrow).

Okay. Anyway. I have not been a fan of the Matt Smith/Steven Moffat run. Sorry, but I haven’t. At all. Moffat wrote a couple of the best episodes of the Tennant run, yes, like “Blink.” But I’m having some real problems with the writing in Series 5 and now 6, and here’s what they are.

The thing is, everyone has a different view on what is good writing vs. what is not. I’m aware of that. These are my opinions. I’m a writer; these are my little “rules” for writing what I consider to be good books. You may not think I’m a good writer and so don’t like my rules; you may think I’m a bad writer who doesn’t follow my own rules. I do think I follow them, but again, it’s all a matter of perception and taste and all of that, so…the point is, this is the stuff I work on and keep in mind. Some of my pet peeves. Things I consider lazy. But just how I also think beginning sentences with participial phrases is an evil thing and hate it with a passion, my feelings and opinions may not match yours (you’re wrong, though, at least when it comes to using participial phrases to start sentences).

I also want to make it clear that I’m not saying the Who writers are untalented. They obviously are talented. They obviously are good writers. But they’re being–I believe–forced into lazy habits, and bad writing is the result.

So. Many of these came up in tonight’s episode. I will tell you about them now.
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What Stace had to say on Tuesday, March 8th, 2011
The Last One

Say my love is easy had,
Say I’m bitten raw with pride,
Say I am too often sad –
Still behold me at your side.

Say I’m neither brave nor young,
Say I woo and coddle care,
Say the devil touched my tounge –
Still you have my heart to wear.

But say my verses do not scan,
And I’ll get me another man!

–Dorothy Parker

Authors shouldn’t respond to reviews. That’s fine. Most of us don’t. We understand that reviews are for readers, not for writers. I don’t even like the “they can be helpful/constructive” because no, they really aren’t constructive, and they don’t help me, and more to the point, they don’t have to be. There is absolutely no reason in the world why a reader should have to remember a writer’s “feelings” when writing a review. There is absolutely no reason in the world why a reader shouldn’t say whatever they like about a book. It’s totally allowed.

But more to the point…who allows it? Nobody. There have been writers out there who’ve been shitty about “amateur” reviewers, and gone around huffing and puffing that they shouldn’t be listened to, or that no one should be allowed to write negative reviews ever, or whatever other self-entitled silliness. Funnily enough, last time I checked that didn’t actually stop anyone from blogging their opinion of a book, or from reading that blogged opinion and giving it whatever consequence the reader chose. Last time I checked, no gang of writers in a black windowless van started making the rounds of reviewers’ homes, grabbing them off the street and releasing them, naked, in a public park several miles away after telling them they won’t be writing any more reviews if they know what’s good for them, dig?

Last time I checked, a reader did not need a writer’s permission to read whatever they liked, and to say about it whatever they liked. So why the idea has come about that writers can or somehow are trying to “censor” readers, I don’t know. Where the idea came that the opinion of writers on that subject matters worth a fidder’s damn, I don’t know either.

Readers can say whatever they want.

Writers cannot.

I accept that. As I’ve said before, I knew that getting into this. I knew there were a lot of subjects I could no longer be myself on. Frankly, it’s a privilege to be in that position, and I’m grateful for it. Of course, I foolishly believed that standing up for readers every time the situation arose would mean people would remember that later; I foolishly believed that going out of my way for people, that being a good person, would mean something, but that’s neither here nor there.

The point is, I totally understand, accept, and whole-heartedly approve of the idea of writers staying away from reader reviews, and keeping their mouths shut regarding opinions of them. Fine. Just as I don’t have any overwhelming need to review books on my blog, nor do I have an overwhelming need to blog about readers and their reviews. I mention them, yes, because as I’ve said before, when a reader shows appreciation for my work I like to repay that; they work hard on their reviews. I want to give them credit for that work and let them know how much I value it, and them. Some of them–most of them–are damn good writers, and it makes me proud to have such smart and awesome people recommend my work. I won’t stop doing that, either, because my readers are important to me.

But the only real thing I’ve ever said on the subject is that readers can say whatever they want. Then I said readers who review and wish to become writers–who review as part of their aspiring writer persona–might want to be aware that they could find some writers who aren’t really eager to do them favors if they’d been negatively reviewed in the past. Funnily enough, last time I checked a favor was just that: a favor, something people are under zero obligation to do for someone else, and can turn down for any arbitrary reason. “I don’t feel like getting my lazy ass off the couch” is an acceptable excuse to refuse a favor, frankly, so I’m not sure how this is different. Favors aren’t obligations.

And for a long time things have been pretty smooth. But now? Now I’m finding that not only is it not okay for me to respond to reviews publicly, not only is it not okay to respond to them privately, but I’m not even allowed to have feelings about them.

Sure enough, the “My books aren’t me and they’re totally separate from me and I’m so professional and detached that I don’t care what people say” crowd leaps in to prove how much more professional they are than those of us who admit negative reviews can be hurtful or sad or disappointing, as if they’re far better than us pussybaby freaks with an emotional attachment to our work. That their work isn’t them, and they are totally detached from it, as if it was something they spat into the sink, because they’re True Professionals.

Sorry, but no.

I fully accept that not everyone is going to love my books or even like them. I know that. I can take it. I knew going into this business that there would be people who don’t like it. I’m happy to stand back and not engage. I don’t let them have their say–it’s not up to me–but I’m glad they have it. More power to them. I have never once tried to quiet another person or keep them from expressing their opinion.

What I will not stand for is the idea that not only can I not reply, not only can I not reply privately, but it’s not even okay for me to feel something about a review. Even feeling privately hurt or upset or down is now wrong and unprofessional. And fuck that.

My books are not my babies. I have babies. I have books. They’re different. But you bet your ass my books are part of me. Every word on every page came from me. Every word on every page matters to me.

Now it’s not supposed to.

Or at least, it’s not supposed to if I write genre fiction. I’ve found a few articles/discussions about literary fiction writers who made the Mistake; funnily enough, no one writing those articles or commenting on them implied that it was wrong of the writer to even feel bad about the review. It was understood that their work was important to them, that they would care about the response it gets, that they would have opinions on those responses. No other literary fiction authors jumped in to say how ridiculous they were for wanting people to like their books, or for feeling kinda bad when they didn’t. It would never occur to most people that those writers aren’t supposed to be personally invested in their work. (For that matter, it would never occur to most people that anyone isn’t supposed to be personally invested in their work. I worked at a Dairy Queen once in high school; I made the best damn Strawberry Shortcakes and Peanutbuster Parfaits you ever saw. My Dairy Queen curl was always perfect. Why? Because I cared. Because I liked the satisfaction of knowing I’d put something of myself into my work, to give someone else the best possible experience.)

And I ask you to show me someone whose boss told them their work wasn’t good enough, wasn’t acceptable, who didn’t feel the slightest twinge of sadness or pain because of that. It’s expected that people will be a bit hurt. It’s expected that they react professionally; no screaming “Shut up, asshole!” It’s expected that they not take it hugely personally and freak out, or be inconsolable for months, or tell that person they’re obviously morons, but it’s expected that it might be a bit hurtful.

But it seems that over the last few years, and of course especially the last couple of weeks, there’s this attitude–sometimes spoken, sometimes implied–of “It’s not like your work is important. You only write genre fiction, you know. It’s not important, what you do. You only churn out a product. So shut up about your feelings.”

You know what? I think that’s utter bullshit. I think if you can detach from your books that completely, maybe you’re not really putting enough of yourself into that book.

My books are not a churned-out product. My books are not a fucking TPS report that’ll go in the shredder as soon as the boss gets a glance at the numbers. My books are not a paint-by-numbers picture of a unicorn that anyone can put together.

My books are mine. My books are me. I’m in there. I’m in every word and every page and every character. Megan? Me. Chess? Especially me. My past. My outlook. My dreams. My thoughts on the world and people in general. My books are what they are because I make them that way. They come from my conscious mind; they come from my subconscious. They speak to parts of me I’m familiar with and parts I don’t know exist.

In other words, my books are me stripped bare. My heart and soul is on every page of every book. They are part of me.

Why? Because I think I owe it to you. Because you as a reader want something, and I want to give it to you. You want a book that will make you think and feel; that is what I want to give you. And how the fuck can I expect to make you feel, really feel, if I’m not feeling when I write it? How can I expect you to have an emotional reaction to my work when for me it’s just another fucking day at the office, whatever, toss out some words and who cares what they are because as soon as the book is finished I’ll emotionally disavow it anyway?

My books are not written according to some formula. My books are not thrown together with a “That’s good enough for the likes of them” sort of casualness, for me to dust off my hands when they’re done. My blood, my sweat, my tears, my pain, my joy, my thoughts, my feelings, go into every goddamn page. My books matter to me. They are important to me.

Yes, my books are genre fiction. So what? Does that mean they can’t be meaningful? Does that mean I have to shrug them off when they’re done, like they’re just some widget I built on an assembly line? Does that mean I’m not trying to say something big with them, that they don’t have a theme that’s important to me, that they aren’t a plea for change or a light being shone on something negative or anything else?

Some writers think we all should be able to completely detach from the book and not care if people like it at all, have it not effect them emotionally in any way. Well, just as they obviously think something is wrong with me and I’m unprofessional for caring if people like my work, I frankly think their work can’t be that damn good or meaningful if they’re so easily able to wash their hands of it and not care about how people take it. When I pour my heart into something I don’t just walk away when it’s done. When I really connect to something and it really matters to me, I don’t just shrug it off when it’s finished and forget it ever mattered. And I think it’s bullshit that I should be expected to. Fuck that.

Yes, it’s just genre fiction. Yes, of course there will always be people who don’t connect with certain books or characters. We all know that; it’s a given, and it’s fine. But don’t you dare tell me that because I just write genre fiction I’m not allowed to care about my books, and the only professional way to write genre fiction is to view it as some sort of toenail clipping, something that came from me but to which I have no attachment whatsoever.

My work matters to me. My work is part of me. I put everything I have and everything I can into my work.

Quite frankly, if I don’t feel deeply when I’m writing it, if I don’t dig deep and push myself and expose everything I can…how the hell can I expect readers to feel something when they read it?

They deserve everything I can give them. And I deserve to not be ridiculed for caring about my work in the privacy of my own home. Because I will never stop caring about my work, and I will never stop trying to make it the best it can be.

An endnote. This will be my last post on writing/writerly topics. I’m tired of it and I’m done. It’s not worth it to me. Yes, I know the people who read and enjoy my books are smart enough to know what I’m actually saying and not what some alarmist claims I’m saying. Yes, I know those who read this and haven’t read my work but know what I’m actually saying are just the sorts of people who probably will like my work. But giving time and energy and feelings to shit like this takes away from what I should be giving time and energy and especially feelings to, and that is my books. (This isn’t just related to stuff on the blog; you AW members may have a good idea of some other things that have contributed to it.) So I’m making some changes here on the blog, and that’s one of them. I will probably be blogging more often, but shorter posts, and I will no longer be commenting on things happening in the online writing world. I don’t want to be part of it anymore; I haven’t wanted to for a long time, actually. I’m happy to let other people have their opinions on things and rarely feel the need to challenge them; the same courtesy is not usually extended to me, and the way to avoid it is simply to stop posting opinionated things, and that’s what I’m doing.

I will always be open for suggestions on topics, and I will always be happy to answer questions here on the blog; I’d like to do that regularly, actually, so I encourage you all to ask away.