Authors need fans, so we need to do everything possible to show them they are appreciated. But some authors may be irritating fans, even without realizing it. Here are some things authors do to really irk their fans.
Complaining About a Publisher
If someone is a fan of your work, they don’t care about how the book got into their hands. That’s one reason self-publishing is such a great thing. So if you’re spending time on your blog or in social media complaining about your publisher, you’re wasting your reader’s time. They don’t care about the beef you have with your publisher, how you think your publisher doesn’t market you, or even about the amount of royalty you’re getting. They just want to read your work.
One writer I know got approached by a fan on Facebook asking if she was going to ComicCon. She instantly complained that her publisher wasn’t going to send her, and even suggested the reader complain about it to the publisher! Bad move. She probably turned her fan off that day.
Talking About What You’re Making
Your readers only care about what you write, not what you make. They don’t care if you made $1 million or five cents on your last book. They only care that the book is good.
Complaining or bragging publicly about your earnings is sure to turn a fan off.
Secretly Collecting Emails for Your Newsletter
I have a pet peeve about some of the authors that have come to me for interviews at my writing blog. After I give them the interview questions, they add my name and email to their newsletter list! If I want to follow a particular writer, I’ll decide that myself, thank you very much. I don’t need you to add more junk mail to my inbox.
Some writers capture the emails from forums or personal notes from readers and then build their newsletter list that way. They think it’s better to apologize than ask permission ahead of time, but it isn’t. Don’t risk losing a reader for good by sending them email when they don’t want it.
Readers are a smart bunch. Sloppy writing and editing mistakes will not go unnoticed, and your readers may not appreciate it.
One writer I love decided to self-publish a collection of short stories she had written about a character that her publisher never wanted to publish. Fans loved this, except for the fact that she didn’t have it edited. Tons of mistakes popped up throughout the stories and readers commented on it in the reviews.
Trashing Other Writers
A writer I used to know had crippling jealousy. She’d see that green monster each time a book deal or good review from another writer was announced, and she talked a lot about it on her blog and social media. In particular, she focused on one particular writer who had hit it “big” in a genre she wrote in, and she began writing blog posts about how late to the party this other writer was and how much better her own stuff was.
Within months, she received nasty comments and her readership began to dwindle. Coincidence? I don’t know for sure, but it certainly is bad form to call out writers you don’t like (or are jealous of) as a way to let fans know you’re “better” than they are. She probably shared some fans with this other writer, and her badmouthing had a lasting effect. Her book deals with one publisher dried up after her negativity and she became known as being difficult.
I think this “bashing” attitude spills over into other areas of our lives when we behave this way. What’s more, it puts the focus on the other person rather than on you. A better strategy is to do the opposite. Tell readers about the people you love to read. Promote other writers. Your readers want to find great stuff to read as much as you do, so help them out.
Thinking Fans Will Buy Anything
The word fan might be short for fanatic, but that doesn’t mean your readers are going to buy every single thing you put out. This is important to remember when self-publishing. Some authors have novellas or short intro’s to their popular books that their publisher didn’t want to put out, so they do it themselves as a money-making venture and end up ticking off readers in the process.
One author I know published a short story for $3.99, and received such bad reviews on the price alone he eventually pulled it. Rather than look for ways to make money, look for value. Offer things like short stories or prequels free as a bonus to loyal readers, rather than a way to make money off of them.
Cherie Burbach has written for About.com, NBC/Universal, Match.com, and more. Visit her website, cherieburbach.com.