Allow me to sound old for a moment*. Nowadays, it’s so easy to connect with authors you admire and/or have read. What we forget so often, though, is the old adage: Never follow your heroes on Twitter. Because guess what? They have opinions. They have opinions about politics, religion, sports, or that goddamn dress. They share stupid shit, and seriously. They’re people, too, it turns out.
Allow me to digress for a moment. I, clearly, like social media. I have had the most meaningful relationship of my life because of it. I have made life-long friends because of it. But if you’re an author, you’re aspiring to something more public, putting you in the category of the paragraph above. You will be someone hero, and meeting you will be a letdown for them.
Never thought about that before, didja?
I certainly claim no fame, nor to be anyone’s hero, but there is one thing I learned early on in this silly career:
Never. Reply. To. Anything.
The more you write, the more you put yourself out there, the more opportunities to reply you will have. Do not, repeat, do not, under any circumstances, take them. For example:
- Someone gave you a bad review.
- Someone made a negative comment
- Someone made an erroneous assumption, and is broadcasting it
- Someone had a problem with your book because it was too diverse/not diverse enough
- You were rejected by an agent/editor/reviewer
I gotta get out in front of this! you think, stifling your anger, and composing a very professional response. Except, that does no good. None. At. All. Press delete, and move on. But, DESR,, you’re saying, they were wrong! I [had people proofread it/need to correct them/just say thank you for their opinion/whatever]. Well, you’re wrong. Literally no good will come of what you’re typing. If they are wrong, well, when was the last time you changed your mind due to being explained to over the internet? Yeah, exactly. If they said negative things before, what do you think they’ll do after you condescend to them? No, shut up, I know you’re not trying to be condescending, but that is how they will take it.
But what if they have a big, ethical problem with your book, and they are making some assumption out of left field, and did they even read the whole thing? You just need to point out one little detail and, man, sit down, calm down, have a drink. They will still have the problem. Even if they don’t, someone else will. Let me tell you another big fuckin’ secret about this: your book(s) are not for everyone. Maybe they even have a point! But, seriously, move on. If they have a point, learn and move on. If they don’t, let them be and move on.
Real quick, about the review thing. I just want to say thank you for the one-star review/rejection. No you fucking don’t. It might seem polite, but these people are just doing their job, and you seem like a smarmy ass doing this. I get five rejections before breakfast (hyperbole, people), and I know several editors I regularly submit to, and I don’t reply to those rejections. Because editors HATE it when you do that. With reviewers, just stop. The exchange is over, you said thank you when you sent them the piece, they reviewed it, they hated it, the exchange is over. Saying thank you for taking the time seems disingenuous and like you are buttering them up for next time.
Use social media to be social. Not to make points or correct other people.
*Pretty much always