Monday, September 9, 2013

Online Etiquette for Authors


While social media and online marketing isn’t such a new concept anymore, it does help to sometimes refresh the ole writerly brain on how best to interact over the intertubes. Below are my quick tips to get it right:

Double check what you’ve written before pressing the send/publish button. Those typos can make you look unprofessional and the grammar errors can make you want to go hide in the closet for a few days—and we all know a closet is not the most inspirational place to write.  

Don’t do online what you wouldn’t do in person. Heck, don’t do some things you would do in person too! Use commonsense and courtesy, and avoid those flame wars by avoiding inflammatory language.

Don’t say anything online while you’re angry, drunk or on pain medication. Come to think of it, maybe at times like those, the closet isn’t such a bad place after all.

Be the real thing. If you try to be someone you’re not, then it will show and you’ll come across as disingenuous. No one wants to be accused of being fake, not even this closet-dwelling recluse on a chocolate binge.

Use your author name. As much as ‘AngelsRock’ sounds cool for an online name, even if your stories are about angels, it’s yourself you want to promote. People will connect to a real name over a gamer tag, or even no name at all.

Be available. The whole point of social media is the social aspect. You want people to find you, even contact you. So that means, along with your author name, you’ll need to provide an email address or some other way to connect with you. You'll need to be present on those sites too, rather than relying heavily on automated or prescheduled posts.

Avoid the hard sell. It doesn’t work and it turns people away. Go go double jeopardy.

Talk about other things than your books. Yes, there are a gazillion other things to talk about than the awesomeness of your book.

Cross promote, but don’t only cross promote. If all you post is promotional stuff, whether it’s for your book or someone else’s, people will grow tired of it.

Be generous. Listen to what others have to say and look for opportunities to help.

Thank the people who have helped you. This might sound obvious, but you'd be surprised by how many authors forget to do this. So I’ll say again, if someone has gone out of their way to help you, even if it’s a little thing, then don’t forget to thank them … or into the closet for you!

Can you think of other etiquette do's and don'ts for writers? What's been your standout experience of writers who get it right or wrong?

Photo: A pic I took at IKEA. Think closets. Okay, so it's a thin connection, but I amused myself.

62 comments:

  1. I do like the pic of the hangers!! It's crazy in a mesmerising way! Yay!

    I've been around writerly blogs for a few years now and the ones that I love reading get the balance right between being informative, interesting, as well as covering aspects of their book(s), themes etc. I don't know - they are good essayists with a brilliant journalistic feel to their blog posts. It's written with care, thought, consideration and yet you can tell they are edited tightly. Also the posts are about their book and issues surrounding the themes covered by their book and not - or hardly ever - about themselves.

    Take care
    x

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    1. Well said, Kitty. Oh, and that mesmerising effect was intended...muwhahahha

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  2. You have covered plenty Lynda. I'm glad you chose this topic because too many people use online personas to do things they'd never do in real life and too many times it's not good things. Online personas no matter the purpose should never have degrading others as it's main purpose.

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  3. I've broke a few of them on occasion - mostly the grammar type stuff and using the wrong profile. Live and learn, I guess.

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    1. Into the closet for you!
      But seriously, yes, it's a learning experience and we all make mistakes on the occasion.

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  4. Don't blog angry!
    Excellent words of wisdom. Sadly there are a couple bloggers I don't visit much anymore because all they talk about is their book.
    And definitely watch the attitude online. That goes for comments as well as blog posts, because people are watching. (And the best example of how to do it right is right there at comment number one - the always upbeat Old Kitty!)

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    1. Yes!! Old Kitty is so awesome at the comments. Great example.

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  5. I wish everyone would take these tips to heart. Especially be real and be available. Too many abuse online marketing.

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  6. I did have to unfollow someone on Twitter recently who plastered my feed with "Buy my book NOW! advertisements. If the result of your hard sell is people turning away, then you might want to rethink your strategy. People are much more interested in buying your book if they get to know YOU a little bit, not your sales pitch.

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    1. Brilliantly said!
      A sales pitch just isn't as warm and fuzzy as the real person.

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  7. some people should spend their lives in the closet :)

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    1. I think some days I should stay in the closet--especially typo days. Oh my gosh, yesterday was one of them! I could not type a word without making a mistake! Made for slow writing.

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  8. I got the closet connection.

    These are excellent reminders, Lyn, and I think I follow them. I THINK.

    Another good one might be to not whine about life problems. Sure, it's okay to share problems/pain every now and then, I mean, after all, some of these people are your friends who want to know, but keep it to a minimum.

    Case in point: losing my mother has been very difficult. I can't express. Actually, I can, but I don't. I don't want to lay my pain out for all to see ALL THE TIME. Sometimes, a mention, but for the most part, I soldier on. But it's all I can think about. I just make sure it's not all I write about.

    Another thing is constantly complaining about bad reviews. I'm starting to see that demon rear its ugly head a little too often. And a lot of times, it's accompanied by requests to go write a good one or something. Tacky.

    M.L. Swift, Writer

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    1. Woo about getting the closet connection. Still with flu, I wasn't sure if I was being esoteric or not. lol.

      Ah yes, great points! In the case of sharing life problems, I think it's good to show what's happening in your life and good to show your vulnerable, human side (a side I struggle to show because, well, it makes me vulnerable). But like you said, share it occasionally and people will respond with a depth of compassion and support that can be so very heartening.

      In the case of reviews, yes indeedy! I have a rough draft of a blog post on this subject. I'm thinking it's time I polish and post.

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    2. Exactly, Lyn! You understood perfectly, despite the flu. Yes, showing a little bit of our humanity is actually a plus, but too much is a minus. Constant status updates, blogs, and comments about one's trials is tiring for the reader, who, after awhile, just glosses over them.

      There goes my post idea on negative reviews! If Lynda R. Young is writing one, all will be covered. And excellently, might I add. Seriously (because I'm still thinking of writing it), it needs addressing more than 1000 cover reveals so I'll probably get to it later (after I read yet another complaint). I read one the other day that really turned me off the author. It's just not a pretty color—on anyone. Negative reviews, even the trolls, are all part of the game. Water off a duck's back, right?

      M.L. Swift, Writer

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    3. I think you should write it anyway. I suspect I'll have a different focus to the one you have in mind. Besides, I'm always interested in your point of view.

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  9. Don't drink and blog. Great one!

    I like to add have something that other bloggers do not have. I implemented my Did You Know and Fun Facts to most of my posts. Its a short science blast that a visitor can read in less than a minute that hopefully is interesting and relevant to what's going on in our world today.

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    1. yes, great point! And I do enjoy your fun facts :)

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  10. Uggg some people need to learn, when all they talk about is their books, boring.

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  11. Excellent reminders! (Got a giggle on drinking and posting--definitely don't do that! :) I can't think of anything to add!

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  12. These are all good tips. I especially like be courteous and double check before posting.

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  13. I especially agree with the point you made about not doing online what you wouldn't do in person. That made me think of all those nasty people who leave mean comments on Youtube videos, news articles, and online posts; I'm willing to bet that most of them wouldn't dare say any of those things in person. But the anonymity of the Internet makes them feel like they can be as mean as they want to be, and they're wrong.

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    1. Yep, it's kinda scary some of the cruel things that are said over the internet.

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  14. Thanks, Lynda. All good tips to remember.

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  15. Love the closet connection and the pic.
    I had to laugh about posting while drunk or on pain medication. Definitely something to avoid.
    Thanks for sharing these tips. :)

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  16. Excellent list! Not only am I gracious and polite online, I think I'm even more so than in real life. I think it's important to connect individually with people too. It's the little things that matter. :)

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    1. Yes, it's a good rule. Also, there's the problem of missing tone in text, so it's even more important to be aware of the effect of our words.

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  17. Great closet photo, if not a bit claustrophobic. LOL These are super tips and reminders here. I especially dislike constant marketing from people. I start tuning out. Kick me if I ever get published and start doing that!!

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  18. Even if you have no idea what a reader is saying, reply kindly. :D If they get inappropriate, just say 'nice chatting' and run away. Or don't answer.

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    1. Yes! Our readers can say pretty much anything they want, but that doesn't give us permission to say anything we want!

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  19. Reminders are always good. New people start up and ones that have been around awhile can forget.

    I'd add don't write your post tired. Or at least don't post it until you've slept and then read it. Typing tired is almost like typing tipsy.

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    1. I'm guilty of that one. It took me ALL DAY to write this post simply because my brain wasn't functioning at its normal level (I have the flu still).

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  20. This list is great! Thanks for the reminders. One thing I run into a lot is (especially for unpublished or newbie writers just looking for some feedback) give back to your community of writers! Don't just beg for critique (or more frequently praise) without being up for critiquing and praising others.

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    1. Ha! Yes! Great tip. I've had random writers send me their manuscripts outta the blue, asking/telling me to critique them. They seem to forget how precious (and costly) time is.

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  21. No notes from me :). You've covered all the major points that are important for online etiquette. I think the most important thing to do is to be kind, especially if you don't want to.

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  22. Great post Lynda. Very practical as always. Good manners in all areas of our lives is important if we're not to become 'on the nose.' I think it's crucial to be a reciprocal writer/author/online buddy. 'Do unto others...' remains a good mantra. And celebrate other's successes. A good online buddy just got picked up by a publisher and she posted about it. She claims some people have been less than gracious. Let's not be anything but encouraging of one another.

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    1. Really? Yikes. I find that so sad. There's so much joy to be found in the success of writers finding publishers. It's not an easy thing to achieve, so when it happens it's time for celebrations!

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  23. I've never quite gotten a handle on the whole social media as platform. I need the community as friends and fellow travelers too much ...

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    1. You've got more of a handle than you realise, my dear Suze.

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  24. I tend to check my tweets/posts for spelling and grammar a few times before they go out. Whenever I make a mistake I cringe a little bit since it seems unprofessional. A lot of people may not notice, but I'd know and that's enough :P

    Handy list; thanks Lynda :)

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  25. Wonderful post, Lynda! I agree with every one of your tips. I wish every writer read and took heed of this. Have a great week! :-)

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  26. Those are definitely good dos and don'ts to abide by on the internet! Especially for people who are claustrophobic... I don't think claustrophobic people would like being locked in a closet.

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  27. Those are the blogs I tend to go back to over and over-the ones where you can tell the person is real. (Like yours, of course.)

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    1. Thank you so much. Your comment means a lot (since I wasn't sure if I was showing enough of 'me')

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  28. Remarkable advice as always, Lynda. The typo thing gets me every time.

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  29. Now to disseminate this to EVERYONE! Great post.

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  30. Lynda: This is the best list for online writers I have ever seen. Thank you!

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  31. Hi, Lynda,

    Thanks for the refresher course... I do all the positive things I can. I believe what makes our community special IS the etiquette. I find most bloggers are gracious, helpful, polite, and always supportive. That is why I enjoy blogging so much.

    I know I help whenever I can and the community does appreciate it. It's all about paying it forward....

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  32. Hi Lyn, for a moment I was wondering why the pic of the hangers. Then as I started reading I understood. I completely agree with all your points.

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  33. This is great advice. I appreciate the refresher now since my book is due out shortly. I am not a social media butterfly (nor am I in person) and doing the social media thing is hard for me. I try to strike a balance, and like you said, just be real. Thanks so much!

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  34. These are wonderful tips. Especially the part about hiding in the closet. I usually hide in the laundry pile waiting to be folded. If I try the closet I won't have to work.

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  35. I think the only thing I can add is 'give people the benefit of the doubt.'

    That's more of a receiving end rule, but so much is lost in written/online communication. We should assume the best in folks and their comments unless they're obviously being a troll.

    Great post. :)

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  36. Hammering your book every day is a sure way to turn off potential readers. I don't see it in blogging as much as I do on Twitter though. I ignore self-promotional Tweets and I'm sure most people do.

    Negative comments on blogs always floor me. If you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all. Slamming someone's beliefs or book or cover is just wrong.

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  37. Great advice, Lynda. I agree on all points. I also find that along with an easy-to-find email contact, I like when it the author's blog or webpage is readily available. On G+ and Facebook that isn't always the case.

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