Thursday, September 4, 2014

Social Media comments have consequences...

Drama, Drama, Drama!  

In The last 24 hours author Chelsea Cain has made some comments that has fans, readers and authors stirring with emotion and no matter how it is spun, most of them are quite negative.

We all have bad days, weeks, etc but one thing we should always keep in mind, DO NOT snap at everyone else around you.  Well it would seem that Chelsea either disagrees, does not care or has yet to learn this lesson.  Last night her fans were privileged to this comment:



This was a generic comment made on Facebook.   It sent everyone into all sorts of tirades.  Most are very upset with the author.  Especially when this first commenter mentions how readers pay the author her wages and the authors replies saying they don't and how she doesn't have to reply.  A couple hours she creates another post to illiterate:

This gets everyone going more so with the not caring comment and how no one is seeing these questions that are "time-wasting."  Especially when on here goodreads profile she invites questions withthe Q/A progra, stating:  “Are you locked in the trunk of a car? I can tell you how to escape. I can also answer questions about my books, parallel parking, and how to perform a home tracheotomy. ”-Chelsea Cain

Now I would like to interject my opinions. 
First off and foremost Chelsea Cain's approach is most unproffessional.   While writing can be a passion, if you make money from it it is primarily a JOB.  And jobs are not always fun or pleasant.  But there is a cardinal rule when you work.  DO NOT INSULT your customers.  Those who buy or potentially may buy her books are customers.  An author, whether they like it or not, work a type of customer service.  You do not walk into your place of business and say things like this.  You don't answer a business phone or customer question in this mannor.  EVER.  Bad Form!

What you can do: 
Option 1: Answer the questions anyway.  I get asked questions all the time that I should not have to answer.  I have been asked here on this blog what an ebook, what an ARC is, what is Goodreads, etc.  At work I get asked store hours, return policies, and more.  I have had complete strangers pull up next to my car asking directions.  People ask questions all the time that are not our responsibility or the answers can be found elsewhere.  Answering is being polite.  And can win you a friendship, customer or in Chelsea's case, a fan.

Option 2:  Ignore the question.  I know authors get asked a plethora of questions all the time.  So getting basic questions, repeat questions, etc can get one to a weary state with it all.  No fan should be expecting every question to always be answered.  So just say nothing.  Let the question go.

Example to both of these.  Authors, publishers or tour hosts contact me about reviewing a book.  They say they found my blog and thought the book would be a good fit but it is obvious they did not read my review policy.  Yes it is frustrating.  But I can tell you know it happens a lot.  Now I either email back, politely pointing out my policy and explaining my decline or for ebooks  mention a print copy alternative if they prefer or just letting them know I can't make their deadline request for the review.   Or I can simply ignore the email. What I don't to is go off about them asking for things they shouldn't.  All that will get me is a bad rep and less review opportunities.

The same rules apply to authors.  Fans love to see their questions answered!  But most will understand if you don't.  We get that authors have a lot on their plate.  Many have another job, families, and other questions being shot at them from all angles.  Most of us get that.  And those that don't aren't worth the energy.

Option 3:  Hire someone to help manage media sites.  Or ask a friend or trusted fan.  If an author asked me to help with their facebook page, I would take it as a high honor!  Just set parameters for the types of questions they can answer (facts like titles, release dates, official sites, etc) and that frees you up to answer the more engaging, personal questions (your life, book insight, etc). 

Option 4:  Copy/Paste answers, FAQ links, etc.  Quickly send a link to these questions as the answer.  If someone wants to know a the chronology order, have a quick link ready to send them.  Help them out.  Yes it takes a few seconds and yes they could just look it up.  But this saves them time  and makes them happy for the interaction.   Some questions may seem simple to you but the answer may be tougher for some.  Such as the chronology/book order example since it was mentioned by Chelsea.  I was trying to read a series a couple years ago that had multiple books.  There are 3 sites online that all claimed to be the "official" site.  Each put the books in a different order.  Goodreads lists them in yet another order, Amazon in something different as well.  No two sites agreed on the reading order!  So fans can get confused.  Not saying that is the case but we don't know.  Maybe they aren't very research savvy.  A quick hand to a link verified by the author themselves would go a long ways with me!

Option 5:  If you don't want all the questions, don't invite them!  While many questions are well-thought, others are sure to be pointless.  Deal with it!  Some of the 'questions' fans ask you aren't questions at all.  Just praise.  Yet those are okay?  PLEASE be more clear with the fans.

So there you have some ideas of how better this could have gone.  Then we get the fans, non-fans and former fans going at each other!!  Yikes.  Some fans are even threatening others in Chelsea's defense.  DRAMA DRAMA, BAD DRAMA!  Now the people are divided. 

Then I notice people commenting about the author complaining and blaming fans for not making the NYT bestsellers list.  So I search and find this post:


Well it isn't blaming the fans but it is a cry for attention.  Not everyone can make the bestseller's list!  Sorry you didn't move on.  Complaining on a Facebook page probably not the best idea.  People can easily get the wrong impression.  Complain to your spouse, friends, family, publisher.  Not your fans that buy the books.  Now we have people wondering if she'll drop the series.... and after the most recent posts and loss of fans it will have her chances of future NYT lists just went down further.  BRAVO!  

This is cause and effect.  This is why we need to watch our behaviors.  Things do not always go the way we want.  For me, life has taught that the opposite is often true.  While many fans will stick to to Chelsea, many have left and/or likely will.  Potential fans have been lost. 

For me, her books do sound interesting.  I am now torn if I will ever read them.  Just like with movies, I rarely let a person's personal behavior effect the work potential they have.  An actor may be a crappy person in real life, but if their acting is good I will still see the movie.  Same with a book.  I don't want to miss out on a good story just because the author is something else but I hate the idea of encouraging bad behaviour.
Yet there is a catch for me at the least.  I won't buy it.  I will not buy a person's book who complains about NYT lists to fans, then complains to fans about questions she has chosen to accept.  Why should I help them make money?  So if I ever read her works, either she will have to turn over a new leaf and show a certain level of respect to her fans and consumers or I will go the the library or borrow it.  But I will not spend money to support one who thinks so little of her fans.

Again I understand bad times in life, I know an author is just human.  So are the fans.  Their interest and purchases DO effect the money you make and future fan bases.  Keeping them happy is often a good thing.  While no one is perfect, learning to bite your tongue can be a valuable lesson.  


So what do you think.  Do you agree/disagree with what I say here?  How does this leave you feeling about the author?  Please feel free to express yourselves but no threats. Debates and differing opinions are welcome and encouraged but keep it courteous and clean please.  Be respectful to my blog and each other in any comments below. 

19 comments:

  1. This leaves a pretty bitter taste in my mouth overall. When authors are rude to their readers I put them on a mental "never read" list, and after learning about a debacle with another blogger and a relatively popular author I'm left feeling uncomfortable with our generation's literary culture. Sure, you're not going to agree with anyone 100% of the time, but to blatantly whine and hissy-fit on the internet is just unacceptable when that's how your business is made - don't poo where you eat! A lot of old classic authors were probably awful people, but a hundred years ago you weren't getting arbitrary updates on what still-drunk Fitzgerald was doing at 2 a.m. on a Tuesday. I am for whatever less okay with authors being rude than, say, actors probably because I hold them to a higher standard. When an actor/company/whatever starts publicly bashing their customers, that's when I have a problem.

    TL;DR This whole thing is a turnoff from the internet-bookish-folk community in general. As with anyone in the public eye, keep it clean and neutral or you're going to find yourself in a crapstorm. Oops!

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  2. If an author I loved reacted that way because of a simple question, it would seriously make me question reading anything else by them. And that is a shame. But if they don't have respect for the people who pay their bills, like the one person stated, then why should we continue to help them make a ton of money? And the complaining about not making the bestsellers list? That just strikes me as a little bit childish. How many authors write absolutely stunning stories and don't make it on any kind of list? And you complain because only one of yours didn't? I don't know. This whole situation just makes me feel bad for the people who love her and her writing.

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  3. I think she needs to invest in a journal when she feels the need to vent. She's right about one thing - social media has changed things a lot, and she's showing exactly what the negative side can be. When you're a public figure, whether an author, actor, politician, whatever, you have to watch what you say. The way she wrote those posts is demeaning to not just her fans but to all readers. She's acting like a total diva. Who does she think she is? The President of the United States?

    I agree with you - there are so many ways she could have handled this differently that wouldn't have come across as throwing a fit. I will never buy any of her books and will never read any of them even if they're at the library. I don't want to support someone who thinks she's above the very people buying her work. If she's so concerned about having time to write, then she needs to get off Facebook and JUST WRITE. There are tons of authors out there who have families, full-time jobs, etc., and they aren't complaining because they aren't out to become rich or make the best seller list - they're doing what they love! She's making herself sound like she's out for a quick buck!

    The post where she's whining about not hitting the best seller list really got to me. She just lost a ton of fans. Sad. smh

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  4. I completely agree with you opinion. Why would she ask fans to send questions and communicate with her if she won't know how to manage repetitive questions or bad comments?!
    Success requires sacrifice, and if you want to keep writing and publishing books, you're gonna need people to buy them, so the least you can do is be polite to this people.
    By polite I don't mean you have to answer EVERY question but you can state that a question asked by a fan/reader isn't smart of productive enough, that's a really subjective matter and you're not the judge of universal truth!
    And most of the times, they're not simply questions or comments.. They're an excuse to get in touch with the author.
    I think you're right about not buying her books unless she changes her attitude towards fans, because while you shouldn't judge a book by it's author personality, a part of that personality, a part of the person that is this author goes into the book. They write with their soul.

    At least that's what I think..

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  5. This just left me shocked and speechless. I have never seen an author ( professional at that ) act in such way.

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  6. Sadly a handful of authors have started becoming rude towards fans and readers and have been lashing out at them. I'm just glad the authors I support have not turned out this way. When I do comment on an author's post, I generally don't expect a reply. But getting one is definitely a booster.

    Never heard of this author before. And after this, let's just say, my TBR is way too long as it is.

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  7. Wow... I don't understand why a simple "I am so happy everyone is interested in my book, but I am busy writing more stories for you right now that I just don't have the time to answer so many questions," wouldn't suffice. There was recently an author who complained that J.K. Rowling should move over and let other fantasy writers have a chance at shelf space, even though she had never once read the Harry Potter series. She mentioned that there were more engaging things for adult readers to read. Needless to say, the ratings on her books dropped dramatically in just a few days. Being rude to the community of readers, especially those who have already shown interest in your books, is career suicide.

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  8. I'd heard people allude to this, but didn't see the specifics before now. I think social media just isn't ideal for some personalities...all I can say is "yikes!"

    Trix, vitajex(at)aol(Dot)com

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  9. I know everyone has bad days and that a plethora of questions can get super old, but wow - that was both an unprofessional and seriously rude way of expressing herself. If you're going to open yourself up to questions, then you also need to explain to fans that you probably won't have time to reply to ALL of them. I know numerous authors who do that, and it gives everyone a graceful way out. That was very badly handled on Chelsea Cain's part. And if she WAS just having a bad day, she should have apologized later for putting it so rudely. And seriously - who complains to fans about not making the NYT list?! Friends, family, your agent - yeah, I can understand. But your FANS?! On a Facebook page?!

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  10. What a whiner. I agree with your advice- she should bite her tongue, especially in a public forum that will directly affect her sales. Although it seems that nowadays even negative publicity will boost sales for some reason.

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  11. Wow, that's just unreal. I agree with your advice. I've asked a few authors questions and never got a response and that's ok. I leave tons of comments on authors pages and I'm thrilled if they take a moment to even like it knowing they get hundreds of comments on their pages, maybe even thousands a day! But to completely flip out on your readers?? Not cool at all. There's really no excuse that will be acceptable at all and had I been one of her readers, she would have lost me. As it stand, I'm definitely not willing to pick up anything she's written unless it's from a library. But even then, I don't think I could look at her book without remembering her comments. Definitely wrong on her part at every level.

    I know a few authors sometimes post a link to their websites that remind fans there's a backlist and other goodies. She could have easily just done that once a week rather than tirade at her readers for wanting to ask questions. Just shaking my head.

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  12. Authors should be accommodating to their readers. If you can't answer it in a nice way, you can ignore it. It's easy. Don't take it out to the readers who anticipate your novel.

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  13. I've never read her before and I didn't even want to... but after this, wow.. She really knew how to shoot herself in the foot.
    Besides this, her FB page was my entertainment yesterday, I don't think I've laughed so hard in weeks.

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  14. I don't know this author, but can't believe she actually went off like that. Seriously though she could've handled this whole situation so much better. At least don't go on social media to complain about your fans, it's definitely NOT a good look. I will definitely think twice before reading any of her books..

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  15. I dunno this author, even if (let's say) she's going thru rough moment during that time.. that's not enough reason to behave like that.. No matter what, you have to take good care of your followers and potential followers--they could be your readers, your CUSTOMERS.

    Look at all the reactions now. *sigh*

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  16. I'm coming to the party late cuz I am about 500 emails behind right now...looking around for who I can blame or complain about... crap it's all me. :D

    I agree with everything you've said. I saw her posts and could not believe that she said all of those things she did. The thing that got me going anymore were the butt kissers who were like it's ok, we love everything about you, you're TRUE REAL fans would never ask you stupid questions or waste your time. All these people coming to complain aren't your true fans... blah blah blah blah. I wanted to say yes, her true fans might know all the answers to that, but her true fans are only going to supply so much income. If she wants to pick up new readers that might just turn into true fans who buy every book so she can climb up those best seller list, giving her even more income, she might do well to keep her mouth shut on social media. I refrained. :D

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  17. This kind of attitude from authors really get in the way of reading their books. The impression you get from them stick with you through out the story and it can turn me off pretty quickly. This is definitely a huge mistake on her part and it doesn't help that she just doesn't let it go but keep coming back with more attacks on her fans. And she also seems to feel like she should be commended on being so committed to her work that she left her kid sick at home to go on tour. This is really disappointing.

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  18. This has definitely discouraged me from wanting to read her books.

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  19. I agree with your post. She doesn't have to answer every question. She doesn't have to whine in public. I haven't read her books but this has not made me want to

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