Archive for 'readers are not the enemy'



What Stace had to say on Monday, March 11th, 2013
We Love Hearing From You

Very longtime readers may recognize this story, but I originally posted it six or seven years ago, and it’s relevant, so I’m telling it again.

Back in 2002 I attended my first Dragon*Con (which was awesome). Coincidentally, I’d just finished writing my Very First Novel, a totally abysmal medieval romance. (Seriously, I wish I still had the printed mss to scan some of it to show you. While I still believe it had a couple of quite good scenes, for the most part it was pretty bad: overdramatic characters, contrived plot points, an Evil Ex Lover making silly threats, a Big Misunderstanding…I honestly barely remember the plot at this point, but trust me, it was lame.)

Anyway. There I was at Dragon*Con, and I happened to notice a panel on women writing, so I hopped on over to see it. It was held in a tiny room in the basement, and there were maybe fifteen people there, which was quite sad as the panelists included Betty Ballantine and a writer I hadn’t heard of named Sherrilyn Kenyon.

It turned out, though, that Sherrilyn Kenyon also wrote under the name Kinley MacGregor, and I’d just finished reading Kinley MacGregor’s BORN IN SIN, as part of my research-based orgy of romance reading. And in fact, BORN IN SIN had been one of my favorites of the romances I’d picked up. So once I realized Sherrilyn and Kinley were one and the same, I was quite excited.

Excited enough, in fact, to make a total idiot out of myself after the panel.

I went bopping up to Sherrilyn, all full of vim and eager puppy-dog dorkiness, and gushed at her that I, too, was a writer! I’d just finished my first romance and I was hoping to get it published! Thankfully I did manage to slip in there that I’d loved BORN IN SIN–although I did also say that I’d had no idea who Sherrilyn Kenyon was when I came to the panel and I was so excited to learn she was also Kinley MacGregor and was that information public, which, FFS, moron–but for the most part, I said the sort of things that make me shrink in embarrassment even now, over ten years later. I asked, stammering and blushing, if she thought I should get an agent, as if I could head for the phone book and hire one just like ordering a pizza (I may even have asked who her agent was; I have honestly blocked much of what I said from my memory). I believe I bragged about doing research and said how much I love the medieval period. And then, in a denouement so fucking ridiculous it makes me cringe, I said, “Maybe one day we’ll have the same publisher!”

Like we were going to play on the Avon softball team or something. Like we’d be Publisher Pals and spend our nights having giggly slumber parties and telling secrets. Like my very first mss ever was obviously just as good as any of her books, and of course I could just walk into a publishing contract simply by virtue of having completed a novel (which was, btw, over 114k words of facile plot contrivances and exclamation points. I didn’t even know not to capitalize the pronoun dialogue tag after dialogue ended in one of those exclamation points, so the book was full of shit like: ‘”Unhand me!” She shouted.’).

Sherrilyn was kindness itself. She gave absolutely no indication that she found my questions ridiculous or my lack of publishing knowledge silly and/or naive. She answered my questions nicely and wished me luck, and left me feeling that, well, maybe I’d been a bit nervous, but it was okay. She left me feeling positive and encouraged.

Now, at this point, I had joined the RWA. I’d done a bit of research on publishing; I knew better than to ask some of those questions. But I asked them anyway. Why? Because I was nervous. Because I was intimidated–I’d never met a real-life author before. Because I wanted to seem like I knew what I was talking about. Because I wanted to show her I was serious. And–this is important–because having read and really enjoyed her book, I felt there was some sort of connection between us. She had spoken to me in that book, and I had responded, and that meant something to me; it mattered to me.

I have never, ever forgotten that day. Yes, sometimes it’s a hauntingly humiliating memory, but I still haven’t forgotten it. I was just some red-faced idiot, and instead of responding with contempt, Sherrilyn Kenyon treated me with gentleness and respect.

But it’s not just her politeness that I remember. I remember the things I said, and WHY. All those reasons I listed above: being nervous, being intimidated, wanting to seem like I knew what I was talking about, feeling like there was a connection between us, like maybe we could be friends; like maybe on some level, insignificant as it was, we were friends. I felt like I knew Sherrilyn, a little bit; she had come into my home and entertained me for a while.

Quite recently there was a blog post written by an author wherein she complained about an email sent to her by a reader, which she felt was rude because it referred to her work as “her stuff” (as in “I bought all your stuff”) and said something like “Why aren’t you writing faster!? Get to work!” She rewrote the reader’s email to be more acceptable to her and went on to instruct readers on what questions not to ask authors, Because Rude, or Because Stupid, or something. She complained about being asked questions when the answers are on her website.

I’m not posting about this to pick on that author, which is one reason why I’m not linking to the discussion(s) about it or giving her name (and I have altered some of the quotes slightly, too). We all have bad days; we all make jokes that don’t come off, or get bad advice, or whatever, and she is human just as the rest of us are. As I’ve said before, internet pile-ons have gone way past the point of amusing for me and into nauseating territory, and that’s one big reason why I have cut back on my internet presence so sharply. This isn’t about her, really–although I admit I find it tremendously difficult to think of how awful that poor reader must feel, being held up as an object of scorn like that for the hideous crime of loving a writer’s work so much that she bought all of it and emailed the writer to tell her so, and asked eagerly when she can further support said writer by buying even more of her work, and I found the post pretty horrific–except that she’s sparked several discussions that break my heart.

Those discussions are from readers saying they’re going to think twice before contacting authors whose work they love, because they’re afraid they too will be publicly humiliated in such a rude and painful fashion if they say the wrong thing.

Guys…please don’t be afraid of that.

My story above is about Sherrilyn Kenyon, but I am absolutely certain that you could insert the name of almost any author on the planet and they would have responded with just as much grace. The fact is, hearing from people who love our books is one of the best things about this job. I can only speak for myself and a few of my friends, but I/we don’t seek out reviews. I/we don’t visit the Amazon pages for my books; I don’t Google them (or myself, unless I’m looking for something specific, like a guest blog post I’ve done somewhere or something); I don’t visit their Goodreads pages or my Goodreads Author page, in general. As I’ve said before, if someone directly sends me a link to a review, I will usually click and read it, because A) that’s a specific invitation for me to do so, which means B) it’s probably a positive review, and I like to retweet those or quote them here as a way of thanking the reviewer/giving them credit for the review without barging into their space.

Emails from readers are the most amazing things in the world. They are. I’ve gotten emails that have brought tears to my eyes. I’ve gotten emails that made me laugh. I’ve gotten emails that made me feel like I was floating for hours, all because someone out there took the time to hunt down my contact info and actually tell me, personally, how much they loved my work and that it meant something to them, really meant something. Without wishing to sound as though I’m making a dirty joke, something I wrote touched them, and they touched me back. Isn’t that what writing and reading are all about? A connection with someone else? Isn’t that why we do what we do, whether we’re writing or reading or reviewing–to feel something, to connect with something, to reach out to something? To share something?

Sure, I’ve gotten some rude emails, too. I’ve gotten a few so offensive and outright threatening that I contacted their IPs. I’ve gotten emails that called me names, that called my characters names, that accused me of all manner of nonsense. They’re not fun. But being asked eagerly when the next book is coming, and can’t I write faster, is not rude. It’s charming, and it’s sweet, and while we all know that intent is not magical, the fact remains that in those cases, when the intent is obviously to flatter, it’s rather silly to take offense. This isn’t a male co-worker telling you how hot you look today and then going, “But I meant it as a compliment! You’re sexy!” It’s someone expressing delight in our work, and that’s not an insult. Especially when if we stopped and thought about it we might realize that behind that email is someone trying to make a connection with us, someone perhaps a bit nervous, perhaps a bit intimidated, someone to whom we mean something and our work means something, and maybe because of that meaning they feel like they know us a little bit. Someone who, aside from everything else, is probably not a professional writer, and is writing private correspondence, and so perhaps cannot be expected to phrase everything in a way that perfectly suits and flatters and pleases us.

I never expect that anyone will be intimidated or nervous when speaking to or emailing me; I mean, who the fuck am I? Nobody of any importance. But I’m also aware that contacting anyone you don’t know personally can be intimidating or can make one nervous. I’m also aware that there are indeed people out there–I’ve met them, and more importantly I’ve been one and occasionally still am–who are nervous or intimidated meeting a writer whose work they love. I’d be willing to bet that when Sherrilyn Kenyon headed for that panel that day, she didn’t expect anyone to be nervous or intimidated at the thought of meeting her, and yet there I was with my face beet-red and my hands shaking as I wagged my Newbie Writer tail in desperate, eager neediness, so excited to be talking to a Real Writer that I pretty much ran down a checklist of silly questions and statements.

I have been horrendously lax in replying to my emails. I’m ashamed of it. I’m so far behind I don’t even know how far behind I am, and that’s inexcusable. But that also doesn’t change the fact that I read and am grateful for every one of those emails. And every writer I know feels the same.

So please, guys, don’t stop writing to us. It matters–you matter. Don’t think the fact that one writer was having a bad day or is rude or ungracious or pretentious or mean means we all sit around rubbing our hands just waiting to pick on you for misphrasing something or misspelling something or simply saying something in a way that doesn’t meet someone’s idea of how to correctly speak to An Author. Most of us don’t expect perfection and we don’t expect you to bow and scrape. We love you just as you are, and are interested in whatever you have to say, and are happy to answer what questions we can, when we can. When you email us we’re grateful, not insulted or offended or angry or upset. Hearing from readers is one of the best things that can happen to us, and if that stopped it would be heartbreaking.

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 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, 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.

What Stace had to say on Monday, October 26th, 2009
Why can’t we all just get along?

A little note in advance: I’m about to rant. I may rant at some length. I’m ranting about something other people have ranted about, as well. So be warned.

So here’s what happened. Wednesday, the New York Times ran an article about the Kindle and how many Kindle owners are now buying more books than they used to. The end of the article contained the following paragraphs:

Ms. Englin has linked her Kindle to the Amazon account of some nearby friends, allowing all of them to read books like “The Lost Symbol” at the same time — while paying for them only once.

“I read much more, I tend to read faster for some reason, and I read a greater variety of things,” said Ms. Englin, adding that this is nearly the same as lending a physical book to friends. “We haven’t really looked closely at Amazon’s terms of service. But I do suspect we are breaking the rules.”

Now. I read the original NYT article because it was linked to in Publisher’s marketplace, in the daily emails I get from them. I saw that last paragraph and, I admit, had a twinge. A moment of “Hey, that doesn’t seem quite right.” But then almost immediately after I thought two things:

1. That this was clearly just a couple of friends sharing books
2. That this is in essence no different from, say, a group of friends with low incomes or little disposable cash, who pool their money and buy books together to share. I did this a few times as a teen; mostly for hardcovers, but sometimes to get three books instead of one or whatever.

And that was basically it. I closed the article and went about my day.

Too bad some other authors didn’t do the same. I’m not going to name any names here. You can find them if you really want. But a few other authors also saw that article, either through PM like I did or because they get the Times or whatever. Those authors went on Twitter and began what I can only describe as a witch hunt, a name-and-shame campaign where they not only scolded Ms. Englin and called her a thief, but actually listed her Twitter identity in their tweets–her Twitter identity, which appears to be her professional identity, as her Twitter seems to be used almost exclusively for business (she’s in marketing or consulting or something like that).

No, I’m not kidding. These people actually felt perfectly justified in naming and publicly scolding this woman, and in encouraging others to retweet their rants and join in berating her as well, in public, in front of her friends, family, clients, and potential clients.

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