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Three NEVERS of Social Media for Writers

Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Kenny Louie

Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Kenny Louie

These three professional blunders can hang on like the smell of dead fish and stink up our author career, so avoid them at all cost. I understand that many of you who follow this blog are new, so if you’ve made one of these mistakes, you’re learning. We all oops (especially in the beginning), so don’t sweat it. Yet, I see these three behaviors far more often than I’d like.

You’ve been warned ;).

NEVER Be Nasty in a Blog Comment

I am fully aware that my blog can’t make everyone happy. I work my tail off to entertain and enlighten but I know I can’t be all things to all people. If I’m not your cup of tea? Just click the unsubscribe button at the bottom of the e-mail WordPress sends you or e-mail me and I will happily assist you leaving (and cry later *sniffles*).

There is no need for this:

Ohhhh-kay.

Ohhhh-kay.

The irony was 1) I didn’t even write this particular post. It was a guest post and an excellent one at that 2) It wasn’t negative at all. It just wasn’t coated in glitter and fluff. Professionals don’t have a lot of time and shouldn’t need to be handled with kid gloves and 3) Was it really necessary? I’s written over 600 posts at the time, and one wasn’t her cup of tea? So we just carpet bomb?

I once wrote a humor post about my many failed attempts to join the military. It was a humor post. It was posted for Memorial Day and to honor those willing to sacrifice for the very freedom this person liberally uses…

Yes, this counts as a troll...

Yes, this counts as a troll…

Oh, and a warning. Trolls will bait you with the, “You will censor my right to free speech” to get you to approve a nasty comment. But they forget we actually don’t have universal 1st Amendment Rights or we’d be able to yell “FIRE!” in a movie theater or stand and scream profanities and threats in the middle of an Applebee’s without being arrested. Don’t fall for it. Your TRASH function is there for reason.

Also, blogs count as a benevolent dictatorship.

And my personal favorite?

Um...OUCH.

Um…OUCH.

See, the thing is, if you want to tell a blogger she has the brain of a retarded chimp, that she’s a loser-poseur fake, don’t do it in the blog comments (or at all, for that matter). AGAIN, the comment is there forever, complete with the commenter’s name and face.

Oh, and it’s spelled “expertise” by the way 😉 .

Most of the time, when I get nasty comments like these I just send them to the trash. They aren’t heathy for the comment community and everyone has a bad day, which is why I didn’t include the gravatars or names of these nice people. But, remember, not all bloggers will be nice.

I have the right to be wrong and y’all have the right to un-sunbcribe, never buy one of my books and tell all your friends that oatmeal is smarter than I am. I get that I can’t please everyone, but there is a way to disagree and remain polite, respectful and professional. There’s no need for ad hominem attacks.

If someone writes a blog you don’t like? Fine. But keep in mind that this person worked hard and for free to offer you something of value. All they ask in return is for some common human decency.

People have long memories regarding those who are needlessly cruel. And sure, a blogger might be a new, unpublished nobody. Doesn’t mean he or she’ll remain that way. We never know who we might need one day, and burning bridges is a bad long-term plan.

If you do goof and hurt a blogger, just e-mail them and apologize or apologize in the comments. A lot of bloggers (I’d like to believe) are reasonable. Own the mistake and ask for gratis.

Never Be Nasty on Twitter

Twitter is a wonderful tool, namely because it can help us go viral. Yet, that’s precisely why we must handle it with care. It can go VIRAL. A random woman on Twitter tweeted a nasty remark about rapper Ice-T’s wife and millions of fans pounced.

This woman had to delete her account and practically go into witness protection. I am certain she didn’t think it was a big deal at the time, but it shows that tweets should be handled with care.

Sure, we can delete tweets, but often by the time we realize we need to delete one…it’s already too late. Twitter goes quickly, so it can get out of hand quickly.

Never Write Bad Book Reviews

This doesn’t apply to book bloggers and book reviewers. That’s your job and we love that you give us guidance on what to read. But, as authors? I believe in what Candace Havens calls Writer Karma.

If I can’t give a book a great review? I just don’t review it. Again, publishing is a small world and we all need each other. The world is already out to throw us under a bus. We need each other to keep from turning into cutters.

***And yes, I KNOW “experts” tell writers to blog book reviews, but that’s a BIG, HUGE, MASSIVE no-no in my book. First because writing reviews is a HUGE time-suck. Average of twelve hours to read a book then time to craft a review. Even if you posted once a week, that is 36-40 HOURS per month we could have spent on the novel. Second, book reviews will never go viral, EVER. And thirdly? Reviewing books muddies and undermines the author brand.

If a writer really bungled and you just cannot remain quiet? Send him or her an e-mail outlining the problems and maybe suggestions how to do better with the next book. This way correction is private and we aren’t publicly and permanently humiliating a peer.

Some writers might not respond well, but I know I’ve gotten e-mails that actually were really helpful. Readers who spotted typos or formatting errors that could be corrected. The idiot stuff? I just ignore, but I do appreciate that it was handled privately.

If you goofed on this and now feel badly, remove the review. In the future, focus on reviewing what you love.

Our BRAND is AUTHOR, not “book reviewer.” My opinion is we can’t do both.

Book reviewers have to be forthright to be taken seriously. This means some books will get shredded. This can undermine how our fellow writers feel about working with us as authors.

“Hey, I publicly shredded your first novel with a two-star but thoughtful review. I have a new book coming out. Can I guest post on your blog?”

“SURE! Just as soon as you send me a lock of your hair to complete that voodoo doll I crafted in your likeness.”

Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Juha-Matti Herrala.

Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Juha-Matti Herrala.

I have a post that delves deeper into this conflict of interests HERE. Remember, we can be Siskel & Ebert or Steven Spielberg. Tough trick to be both.

We Are Human

Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Sally Jean

Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Sally Jean

I’d love to tell you I’ve never made a mistake, that I am the shining example to all, but I’ve had bad days too. I’ve screwed up and had to apologize. Just own it and say you’re sorry.

We all need grace, let’s just try not to make a habit of needing it too often. We’re wise to remember there’s a human on the other side of that screen. The digital world is wonderful, but it takes work (and sometimes holding our tongue fingertips) to keep it a positive experience.

Have you ever had someone shred you publicly on your blog? On social media? How did you handle it? Did you cry? I used to. Have toughened up. Do you delete the comment or leave it up so everyone will know they’re a jerk and steer clear? When you see comments on a blog that are rude and in bad taste, what do you do? Do you make note of the name? Defend the blogger?

I love hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of FEBRUARY, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

For those who need help building a platform and keeping it SIMPLE, pick up a copy of my latest social media/branding book Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World on AMAZON, iBooks, or Nook

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  1. It reminds me the time I was a teacher and I had students ask me if they had what it took to go to college. No matter what I said yes. The reason was that people change and the worst student might change and become the student of the future. You just do not know.

    1. Excellent point. You raise the bar and help lift the child up to meet it.

  2. Ha, the first meme made me crack up!

  3. I love this… It’s funny and has some really good advice. I haven’t done any of these no-no’s yet. 😀 However, I do wish people would review my books lol… I’m still a small fry and need them, and sometimes there’s some good advice in a bad review.

    There’s no need to be mean to anyone, but a little honesty can be beneficial if done correctly.

  4. Reblogged this on Kawanee's Korner and commented:
    Good advice delivered with a slice of humor.

  5. Yes, I’ve had a few trolls post on my blog, and generally I know what topics set them off. So I’m very careful how those particular posts are crafted. As a general rule, if the comment that disagrees is polite, I’ll let it stand–but not more than one or two. I respond with a “thank you for your opinion” and a link to the page that explains my comment policy, and delete any further repetitive comments.

  6. Lots of truthiness here, love, as always! And yeah, so, back when I was doing something foolish (paying a service to troll around and alert me whenever ANY mention of “Liz Crowe” or of my books was mentioned on twitter) I opened up that daily digest private detective style email and found: a FLAME CAMPAIGN. Talk about “ouch.” There were 5 or 6 “reviewers” (one for a major outlet which shall remain nameless) saying that under NO CIRCUMSTANCES should ANYONE EVER buy a book by “Liz Crowe” Because her book “Paradise Hops” was so god awful, had a “cheating slutty whore” as the heroine, and was so NOT romance she should be (I kid you not) “shot” for pretending it was. Yippy-skippy and the piling on about my Stewart Realty series (“I mean WHAT COUPLE takes THAT LONG t get THEIR ACT together? Those books sucked too!”) was immediate and brutal. I will never get over it but I assure you I no longer troll my name on twitter or even on google. I’m at a stage where haters ‘gon hate, and many times loudly and on social media. But any time I even think about saying anything remotely negative about any author (even ones I despise for their fake success) I harken back to the hours I literally cried over that episode.

  7. Absolutely spot-on, as usual. All things I advise newbies about as well. I’ve seen writers with plenty of 2-star reviews (that they’ve GIVEN other authors on GR) whine that no one will host them for a blog hop, or that other writers are “bitches” to them.

    Um, DUH.

    When writers whine to me, “But I’m a READER, too! Why CAN’T I review!” I ask them, “Would you give credence to a McDonald’s review of Burger King? Would you give credence to a Ford review of a Chevy vehicle? No.”

    Think more of Kayne West and what a jackass he’s made himself look like charging up on the stage and whining someone else should have won. THAT’S what it makes an author look like.

    The flip side is if you give too many glowing reviews to books in your genre? People start to think they’re fake reviews and that you’re an ass-kisser, or have traded reviews with other authors.

    Authors. Can’t. Win.

    And the ‘Zon is now also removing author reviews, anyway, in some cases, if they suspect review-trading is going on. So don’t even risk it.

    You can pick to be a professional reviewer, or a writer, but not both. I rarely review books. I will give books within my genre shout-outs for my own reasons, either because I want to pimp my friends or because I really liked the book, or both, but if I review a book now (and post it on the ‘Zon) it’s either because it’s a non-fiction book, or it’s a fiction book completely outside my genre that I adore and want to make sure others see good reviews about it.

    My only breaking of that rule was I gave a 1-star rating to one of the The Walking Dead novelettes that I’d preordered. It turned out it was — literally — 15 pages of story, not even a COMPLETE story but just one scene that wasn’t even a standalone, and about 45 pages of a “free preview” of a book I already had and had read. (No, it wasn’t .99 either, it was like $4 or something when I bought it.) I felt cheated, as did a shit-ton of other readers who 1-starred it for the same reason. So it was a “caveat emptor” type of review, to keep others from paying waaaaaay too much money for what was basically nothing but a preview of a book most of us already had. And I learned a valuable lesson about NOT pre-ordering The Walking Dead novels. (I now wait until they’re out and then read the reviews first to make sure they’re not pulling something hinky again.)

    1. Thank you so much Tymber for that advice that authors can’t review. Very sensible and I’m now dragging in a great sigh of relief.
      I will send private messages only to authors from now on saying “I’d love to beta for you next time.” which is a polite way of saying “I think you were let down by your betas and editor last time.”
      I don’t think you will be getting one of those messages from me by the way: only read two of yours but they would definitely have received the five stars with no caveats beyond the “this may not be quite your scene” warning.

  8. You can’t see me right now (unless that’s a nanny cam over there and, well… I don’t know quite what to say, but let me fix my hair right quick) but I’m standing at my desk and wholeheartedly applauding this post.

    Truth!

  9. Really loved this Kristen. Some brilliant advice in here about how to handle not-so-constructive criticism and conducting yourself on the gasoline-soaked tinderpile that is Twitter. Very cool of you to admit to the odd oopsie and giving us some tips on how to handle our own. Besides the very very occasional 2-star rating on Goodreads, I’ve never publicly dissed another writer to my knowledge. Networking and goodwill aside, it’s just not necessary, and flies totally in the face of the hard work thousands of writers and bloggers put out every day. I think I will give that ‘messaging a writer privately’ tip a go next time I have feedback. Cheers 🙂

  10. Oh, and on my blog, I moderate all comments. Exactly like you said, benevolent dictatorship. If I don’t like it, I circular file it. (Unless it’s funny enough that I know my readers will skewer them, so I leave it and let them get publicly humiliated.)

    That rarely happens, though, luckily.

    I saw another blogger write once that yet another blogger actually takes the troll’s comments, edits them to make them look absurdly funny, and eventually the trolls go away because they know they have no hope of winning. I personally like that idea. LOL

  11. This is so true. I would probably trash it and forget all about it. No point in taking in the muck. Loved this post.

  12. I haven’t ever been shredded, but I have been criticized. I’ve already told myself if I ever am shredded, I’ll not do anything with it at first, but remove myself from the computer, get out my emotions it a safe way (probably by griping to my husband, he’s a stable sounding board) and then when I’ve become neutral again, decide what to do and do it.

  13. This is really helpful. The first two I pretty much try to stick to as SOP, but I had been wondering a lot about the third one and how to be both objective and positive at the same time. I think I’ll just stick with selective beta reading for people I like so I can comment privately and then do public reviews only for books I love. Thank you very much for the clear advice.

  14. When I encounter trolls on a blog or elsewhere on social media, I try to take note of the name so I can avoid them. Some people find fault with everything and can’t be reasoned with. It’s best to adhere to the ‘Do Not Engage’ rule.

  15. Bravo! I do NOT understand why people spend time writing negative comments on the internet. If you don’t like something–ignore it!

    I recently got into an (in person) discussion on writing negative book reviews. I don’t do it, and the person I was talking to thought that was “dishonest”. I understand the compulsion to write a bad review–your time is limited, you’re annoyed you wasted it on a bad book, plus as a WRITER, it’s so frustrating to see bad books being published while your tiny work of genius is still searching for an agent. But really, the worst thing you can do to someone is ignore them. Not writing a bad review is not “dishonest”–if I read something and am not talking about it, I think that speaks for itself.

    I do, however, take the time to write positive book reviews, partly because I know people who like my recommendations, and also because when I read something really great, I just want to tell the world about it! I don’t go super in-depth–no time!–but I don’t think there’s any harm in writing a blurb about a book you really loved, and the reasons why you loved it. I hope people do that for me someday!

  16. Totally agree with you, wanderlustywriter. I’ll leave 5 star reviews when I love a book, but no review when I don’t. I can’t bash another writer’s work. It’s just not in my DNA. Thankfully, Kristen, I haven’t been bashed on my blog. I’m sure it will happen someday. After the initial sting, things like that usually roll off my back, anyway. Delete. Great advice, though!

  17. Good article, Kristen! When my first book came out and had over a hundred thousand downloads the first month, I was so excited as the four and five star reviews poured in. Then I was SHOCKED as a group of haters shred, not the book, but ME. “This author makes me ashamed to be a woman,” was one comment. “This book was written by some poor indictable stuck in an arrested state of adolescence. What, is this author twelve?” “Boring author, boring book.” I REELED from the viciousness of the attacks, totally naive that this was a brand of ‘thugging’ behind a computer screen.

    I took it personally at first, almost let this handful of cretins change my mind about writing, even as hundreds said, “Best book I ever read,” “Favorite new author,” etc. It was surprising how personal those attacks were, and how vulnerable they made me. Wish there was a delete button on Amazon, and especially Goodreads. 😉

    Many books later, my skin has toughened. I don’t get the haters so much any more, but actually think of you when it happens, knowing ‘haters gonna hate.’ You do such an amazing job of sharing your knowledge and experience in an enjoyable and informative way, and there’s no question you take a lot of your time to help your readership. And I love the notion of just hitting the delete button. They really don’t need a platform to spew their venom, especially mine. 🙂

    Hugs to you. Keep up the good work!

  18. I thoughtlessly posted bad comments to a sports blogger (he kept getting his stats wrong). I meant it as a help, but go irritated and posted some less than complimentary personal comments. I was banned from commenting on the site. I took it as a badge of honor at first, then I read the authors bio. He was an 18 year old kid who was just trying to get some exposure. He wanted to go into sports journalism. I learned my lesson. I follow Thumper’s dad’s advice.

    • Miranda on February 11, 2015 at 11:28 am
    • Reply

    Trolls are bad m’kay.

    I’m curious. What are your suggestions for professional reviewers who later write a novel? I know a ton of book bloggers and professional reviewers that have later published. I just don’t know if it’s fair to hold professional reviewers turned author to that standard. Thoughts?

    1. I think if the brand is a “transitioned” brand, it is fine. Just doing both at the same time is bad juju.

  19. Great blog, Kristen! My mama taught us that if we couldn’t say something nice to just not say anything at all. That’s pretty much it in a nutshell! 🙂

  20. Reblogged this on Writing and Music and commented:
    Great blog from Kristen Lamb!

  21. I so agree – nothing is secret on the internet and it never goes away.
    I do contract to write book reviews now and again but I believe in being the Paula Abdul of book reviewers. If I didn’t like the book or it had serious flaws – I say that but in a nice way. And I balance it with what I did like. It’s rare that I can’t share something positive about the book. If the book really is awful or shocking or something – I contact the author (if the author asked me to read it) or if it’s a request through something like NetGalley, I just let it expire (it happens sometimes that the reader just didn’t get through it before it expires).

    • habisha on February 11, 2015 at 11:37 am
    • Reply

    Good points, all of them. I find that if I can’t say something positive on a blog, I don’t post a comment. And the same for a book review. I appreciate what you put here. It is fun to read.

  22. The book review one came up for me recently. I read a book that I didn’t review because my mom and Thumper’s mom are friends: If you can’t say nothing nice, then don’t say nothing at all!

  23. Totally agree. I’ve had ‘discussions’ with people who say that if you are going to read and review other authors’ books you HAVE to write bad reviews sometimes because you have to be honest. Nu-uh! I’ll be honest about a particular aspect of a book that was less than perfect but I will never write a bad review. I have a great excuse, too. If a book is THAT bad, I won’t finish it, and it would be more dishonest to review a book I haven’t read from cover to cover.

  24. Great post, though it makes me a little sad that needed to write it…. it’s like Kindergarten. Don’t be nasty. To make a friend, be a friend. Treat others as you want to be treated. I’d like to send a few grown ups back to crayons and time-outs.

  25. Re: Authors leaving reviews, you’re right, it is a time-suck to read others’ fiction, but none of us has ever reached the highest pinnacle of our wordsmithing alone. If we don’t read, we can’t write effectively, so I see it as on-the-job training. I also share your feelings about reviews. As an author, I know what a bad review can do, so I will never leave one. Like you, I won’t review the book at all.I’ve only had one bad experience when I offered “notes” and that was with an unknown author who wanted to swap reviews. I was younger and stupider and I never swap reviews now for anyone.

    Re: Responding to nastiness in like: If you do that you become as trollish as the idiot that posted the nasty comment. I refuse to provide entertainment for the under-the-bridge-in-filth crowd.

  26. Another of your posts I’m sending along to various authors I am editing or have edited recently. Eventually, they advise that they’ve subscribed! yay!

    Most of my authors are self-published and reeling from the staggering activities they need to learn, pursue, and attempt to be pro-active in. The majority enter this maelstrom holding their hip waders and their noses. 🙂 I try to direct them to guide ropes that are strung through the storm, like your blog.

    This is beyond knowing what to expect – you give information with a ‘kitchen-table’ feel – or that’s how it feels to me. So I know all of my authors will feel comfortable learning from you.

    I’m not a person who can come up with a snappy comeback when someone snipes at me, am more the are-you-really-that-mean? look on the face type. Due to this inability to do a quickie, I’ve always advised others, and my authors, to accept that, yes, some people are mean – they get off on it…it’s their only form of power. So, take a breath, hit delete (in reality or mentally), and hug those good reviews, blog comments, and tweets tight.

    Thanks for sharing.
    Maria

  27. I haven’t had someone shred me on my blog (yet, I guess), but did get a nasty review for my second book on a site that will remain nameless. The person wasn’t an author, but the urge to respond was HUGE. I stuck my hands in my pockets and whined to my close friends who assured me I was actually going to live through it. Thankfully, it was the only negative review and I’m finally past the urge to respond.

    As an author, if I can’t leave a good review, I don’t leave one. I feel that we have an unfair advantage in that we study the craft and therefore, have many more tools in our arsenal as we read and critique.

  28. Wow! I review a book once a week and didn’t realize it took so many hours away from my writing. But, I’ll continue, since I love to read, and only write reviews of books that I like. 🙂 Hopefully I’ll never have to eat my words, since I try try try to be nice. Thanks for the tips, I’ll definitely remember them.

      • Stephanie Scott on February 11, 2015 at 3:38 pm
      • Reply

      Same for me. I’m an unpubbed writer, but working on building a platform. To keep my blog active, I review a handful of books a month. I’m not a book review blog and have turned away requests to review. I only post reviews of books I’m already reading, which I would read anyway, and only for those that I recommend. I do not post negative reviews to my blog.

      Wondering Kristen, do you still think this is not a good use of time? I’m already writing up the review for Goodreads and cross-posting to my blog. I don’t have readers yet. I am not a blog pushing out how to be a writer content, but instead using my domain name as my landing page and to network with other writers.

      1. I love to read and only review books that I like. I don’t ever say anything negative, since that wouldn’t be nice. Is that silly? I don’t think so. I’m trying to bring love and hope and happiness (along with rainbows and unicorns) into the world. Trying to follow – if you don’t have anything nice to say, say nothing at all. 🙂

        1. Yes please to more rainbows and unicorns. (If we can add some fairies in too I’ll be a very happy camper!)

          1. Oh yes, fairies are extremely important!

  29. Your blog is on the point; I believe such comments should be deleted, else you give life to what they want most – attention. Far more insidious, perhaps, is the person who rides the ‘coattails’ of the blog by just a tweak of a slap in the face; and proceeds to show how clever their point of view is, over yours.
    It is fine line I know as I make such a judgement, as another point of view might add to the blog, but, but, but, there are some who I KNOW just want to ride the wave of someone else’s hard work.

  30. I actually enjoy some reviews, but I try to keep them to my defined subject areas, not just who ever whenever. It sometimes gives me an opportunity to discuss some new discovery or interesting resource I have found. But reviews just ’cause, no. It gets to scary when you just don’t know what to say because, well, you shouldn’t.

  31. I write and review, but I am never insulting in my reviews. Even if I personally didn’t like the book, I still recommend the book to those who may like that style. I state that it wasn’t my style and what I did like about the book, though.

    And my reading doesn’t suck any of my writing time away. I read during my commute and my breaks at work. I have no chance to write at those times, since there are so many distractions.

  32. One thing I’ve learned over the years about social media is that some people often mistake pedantry for intelligent argument. In other words, they may think they’re creating a dialogue but it comes across as a mix between Monty Python’s Argument Clinic sketch and XKCD’s ‘Someone is wrong on the internet’. I call this reactive thinking–in short, the reader gets wound up in the emotions brought up by something someone posted, and they immediately respond to that emotion in their response, rather than the actual point being made. When I realized that, I found I could no longer read most comments sections anymore. It all sounds like ‘you’re a stupid doodyhead’ to me now.

    That said…I haven’t yet gotten to the point of being trolled or harassed on my blogs (my site traffic is sad and pathetic right now) but I’m sure it’ll come soon enough, especially once I start releasing my novels and stories. I’m not looking forward to it (or for it, for that matter), but I’m hoping I’m ready when it does eventually happen. I have two reactions to trolling and nasty comments that have worked for me: either refuse to play along, or take it to its most ridiculous and illogical conclusion that all fun is taken out of it for the troller. [I rarely do the latter, but it’s always a fun time when I do!]

    But yes…not looking forward to the trolls, but I expect they’ll come knocking on my door eventually.

    • Arlee Bird on February 11, 2015 at 12:24 pm
    • Reply

    I’m suspicious when there are a lot of reviews and they’re all 5 star. As a customer I want quality honest reviews with strong reasoning why a book is good, bad, or average. More than once I’ve bought a book on the basis of a 1 star review that made me more curious about a book concept that sounded interesting to me.

    I see what you’re saying about an author being careful about what they say about a book. A bad review can backfire, but in some ways a good review for a poor book can backfire on their credibility as an author with reliable judgement. Maybe authors shouldn’t review books? Ironically considering that scenario we might be missing out on the reviews that could be coming from the most reliable source.

    A conundrum I suppose.

      • Stephanie Scott on February 11, 2015 at 3:40 pm
      • Reply

      Like you, I appreciate those 1-2 star reviews to determine what to read. I rarely ever give a book 5 stars–it has to be excellent! I do a lot of 3 and 4 stars on Goodreads with an explanation of why. though I’m thinking that highlighting these on a blog na dnot a review site might be what this post is getting at.

  33. I’ve been blogging for four years and am now a published author with PDMI, but I do occasionally get quite odd comments from people I don’t know commenting on my use of grammar and punctuation in great detail, and I can never understand why they bother. I already know I make mistakes, and if I forget my editor is, rightly, very happy to tell me. I love your Blog, and its a mine of useful information so, for me, I hope you carry on blogging forever 🙂

    • mcm0704 on February 11, 2015 at 12:34 pm
    • Reply

    Very helpful article as always. I’m amazed at how many folks don’t know how to be nice and be professional online. If you want to be taken seriously as a writer it would be good to put forth a professional image.

  34. Great advice, as always. Sometimes, all it takes is that gentle reminder that the person on the other side of the screen is human. I’ve had lots of nasty comments. Some I leave/answer, and others I delete. If the commenter brings up a good point, or a popular opinion, in a nasty way, I usually answer it respectfully and let it become part of the discussion. If the comment is all about me, and how much I suck, I delete it. One of my favorite remarks began with, “Nothing personal, but this article is crap.” LOL Why would I take that personally?

  35. I just don’t allow them on my blog. I’ve gotten a few nasty comments on my more political posts and if I don’t like it, I don’t allow it. My house, my rules, ha 😉

  36. If you can’t say anything nice or at least pleasantly constructive….
    Love the whole voodoo doll thing.
    Well written and great points to remember

  37. Yep, doing book reviews can be the equivalent of being asked by a friend, “Does this dress make me look fat?”

  38. Reblogged this on Lenora's Culture Center and Foray into History.

  39. I get flamebroiled a lot, and sometimes for the oddest or dumbest reasons. The only thing I’ve ever deleted is a nasty comment on a poem I wrote for my daughter’s high school boyfriend, who fell from a bridge understructure and died when he was 19. Otherwise, I leave them for all the world to see.

  40. Great reminders! I absolutely love your choice of images. I too skip reviewing books I can’t say anything nice about, but I’m so far behind that I worry authors think that’s why the review isn’t yet posted!

  41. I’ve done the Book Review thing on my blog, and I’ve found it helps some people find books they may have never known about. Now, in that regard, I don’t only do book reviews, but I might do one of the books that I just finished reading if I want people to know about it. Heck my last one got a comment from the author of the book. Was pretty excited about that.

    1. I do the same, but I only review books I like. If I don’t like a book, I decline reviewing it.

  42. Reblogged this on Author Mysti Parker and commented:
    Great advice from Kristen Lamb as usual. A lot of people could learn from this! 🙂

  43. Your book just arrived and I’m excited about reading it. I love that you offer so much helpful information and I hope you don’t mind if I post links to your blog in mine.

    I’ll post a review of a book I really like because I know there are others who’d enjoy it, too. My mom taught me that if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. I don’t always listen to Mom, but that’s good advice. You said it well. Thank you.

  44. I live by the saying my mom taught me. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Thank you for the great post!

  45. Quite interesting to read about that outside of Brazil. Here the writing and blogger community is much smaller.

  46. Reblogged this on PTL Perrin Writes… and commented:
    Kristen Lamb delivers great advice for authors … but it can apply to everyone using social media. Enjoy!

  47. And as I do occasionally troll – purely as a hobby – the best advice is if you do plan to leave a nasty comment or review, for god’s sake don’t use your real name.

      • Stephanie Scott on February 11, 2015 at 3:41 pm
      • Reply

      True confessions! 🙂

  48. Loved this post. Funny, informative and honest. Bravo! Ps: you’re no one in the blog sphere until you have a troll 😉

  49. Sharing on Twitter! I have friends who need to read this too.

    I, myself, had someone recently attack a quote from my book I shared on twitter because she thought a single word connected it to a political event when it had nothing to do with it. She had not interacted on me on Twitter until she saw that, then it was only to point out that she thought it “inappropriate” when I don’t even comment on social issues on my account. But she stole the humor from the tweet and no one else enjoyed it thanks to that. Robbed me and my friends a fun thing. Wish I had read this advice before that event.

  50. Reblogged this on Writing and other stuff.

  51. I delete comments if I feel they could lead to some arguments with others reading the blog. I see no reason to leave a comment from someone trashing me or my work. It’s my blog. My blog is my home on the internet. I wouldn’t allow negativity in my home, so why should I do it on my blog? I don’t want there to be fights on my blog. I want it to be a safe and peaceful place for everyone who comes by.

  52. First – As a newbie /non-professional writer starting a blog, this post opens my eyes to the reality that I will probably need to develop a thicker skin than I normally have. Thank you and I look forward to reading more from you.
    Second – These examples remind me a bit of Jimmy Kimmel’s Mean Tweets segments. I love watching these celebrities get a chance to turn the tables on people who “anonymously” tweet random, mean comments!

  53. Hello, thank you for an excellent post. I often worry that a lack of courtesy is pervading our lives in many directions, including in blogs. Your post should be required reading. I also have a question: since I am fairly new to this, how do I link back to your blog from my blog? I am slowly entering the end of the 20th century with technology, and I have to admit a great deal of uncertainty about how to use it. Thank you.

  54. Kristen, I LOVE your blog! I always smile, even when you talk about trolls. I also love your Machines book and thinking about self- pubing. Thanks for what you do for other writers. Keep blogging!

    • Susan Faw on February 11, 2015 at 5:47 pm
    • Reply

    Trolls exist in any industry. The advent of the internet has empowered these people with instant and free ways to attack what in the past required writing a letter and a stamp or spend time if not money fashioning a sign and picketing (which also requires effort). Now with the click of a key and the entire world knows instantly your grievance. Unfortunately there is no way to have them politely escorted outside to the waiting patrol car, other than that trash can and delete button.

  55. I certainly enjoy your posts, Kristen! 🙂 I haven’t heard this advice about authors reviewing books before, but am certainly listening now.

  56. Reblogged this on Random Musings and commented:
    Sound advice from Kristnen Lamb.

  57. Yeah, so I have totally wanted to write awful reviews for books, but I’ve managed not to. I save my rants for my middle school students.

  58. Great post! I reblogged it on http://www.mystiparker.com. I do review books, but nowadays I keep those mostly to my bi-monthly reviewer gig on an online magazine. I don’t exchange reviews or pay for reviews or review books that I can’t give at least 3 stars to. For one, it’s unprofessional for one author to harshly criticize another’s work when other readers may love it and also, why would I waste my time on books I don’t enjoy reading? Reading (unless it’s for a school assignment or other job) should be fun, not torture.

    As for rude and disrespectful comments, I moderate every comment on my blog, so I can easily hit “delete” before any negativity goes public. On other social media, I delete, unfriend, or block, depending on the comment. Yes, everyone’s entitled to their opinions, and they can even disagree with me, but I firmly believe that you can disagree with someone without being rude and combative. If you can’t, you’re a jerk or a troll, probably both. 🙂

  59. Best post I have read in a long time. Alot of people forget what they say in the digital world is always there for anyone to see; they can’t take it back. I agree with everything in your post and let’s face it; toxic (cowardly) people in the digital world love to hide behind their computer’s and don’t have to face you in the real world. Ninety percent of the meaness on the internet would not be there if they couldn’t hide. I always like to say “Kind People Rock”, (even though we know in our hearts “Mean People Suck”). I just keep my distance and get as far away from them as I can. Thank you for another great post, Kristen. 🙂

  60. Reblogged this on writersback and commented:
    Great Post by Kristen Lamb! Karma exists in the digital world too. People too often forget this.

  61. I agree with your post. I never leave a bad review. If I absolutely am comfortable with the person, I gently give any negative feedback privately. I use the trash button carefully. And I realize some like chocolate ice cream, some like vanilla. For the most part, I use manners. Plain and simple. Even though I’m in the privacy of my own home, the internet is public. I treat others as I want to be treated. Doesn’t always mean I get the same in return, but oh well, doesn’t change how I will respond. 🙂

  62. Absolutely love this blog and feel it’s spot-on! Thanks for so eloquently educating. 🙂

    • Diane Burton on February 11, 2015 at 9:13 pm
    • Reply

    I always enjoy your posts, Kristen, and this one is right on. My mom always warned me if you can’t say something nice don’t say anything at all. That’s how I feel about writing reviews. I’ve read a lot of dreck (rather, I didn’t finish the dreck-y books) but I won’t write a bad review or pan the book or author. I do believe in karma–it will bite you in the behind. I can’t believe the meanness in some people. Keep on writing those posts.

    1. I dislike that saying. I can’t speak with people who only say nice things. Conversation gets so boring you might as well not talk at all. Nobody gets anywhere by only being nice. I see why maintaining a professional politeness is sensible, but that should never get in the way of real, constructive criticism.

      1. Gry, but nothing any of these people said in my examples was constructive or professional. I’ve disagreed with people and not attacked who they are. I never mind someone disagreeing. But calling me names? Really? Are we now 4? And what are the odds that I will want to work with any of these people? This isn’t Huffington or a Yahoo blog where any yahoo comments. These are fellow writers. Kinda like crapping where you eat, in my book.

        1. I agree that these people were out of line – comPLETELY. And I agree about crapping where you eat. I was thinking more generally of that term “never say anything if it’s not nice” and I very much dislike it – as much as saying “not nice” things have brought me in trouble in the past it has also brought me a lot of good things 🙂

          And don’t get me wrong. I think it’s good to call out the trolls.

  63. Reblogged this on Fiola Faelan and commented:
    This blog is spot-on and great advice. Don’t burn bridges and be kind!

  64. Reblogged this on Live Your Dreams.

  65. Kristen, some people shouldn’t be allowed to get out of bed in the morning. The one about you being a warmonger was so ridiculous, I had to read it twice. I only had one drink, but thought I was getting the DT’s.

    • Mike M on February 11, 2015 at 11:07 pm
    • Reply

    So in your first point, where you mock people who have commented on your blog…isn’t that another example of something a writer shouldn’t do on social media?

    1. Since I didn’t use their names or faces (which I easily could have), I disagree. I also didn’t publish most of these comments. They wrote the comments and were proud enough to publish them, so they can own it. As far as I am concerned? I think it’s damn nice I didn’t put their face on it and I didn’t because that would have not been nice. And it’s merely to point out that a lot of people see that this blog is popular and they see the fun stuff, but also know that as hard as I try, people can be seriously cruel.

      Often times people who start blogging can’t decipher the difference between someone who politely disagrees and someone who is simply being mean because they can. If these folks made themselves into examples? I didn’t type it for them.

      And I am actually more than a bit disturbed you were bothered that trolls got called out for being trolls.

  66. My blog isn’t high-traffic enough to draw trolls yet. Should I get a billy-goat?

    1. I think you need three of them for fully effective troll fishing…. 🙂 Trit trot, trit trot! – and if you find a reliable and cheap source – do let me know!

  67. Great article. I have encountered some of these, shall we say, “experts,” in the past. They can be so brutal. As former Behavior Therapist, I would on occasions, put my expertise to use, when ever someone would ask for some assistance on a particular problem. I would suggest certain venues. I would always get a comment from someone who took Psych. 101, contradicting my suggestions. I finally stopped doing this. Thank you. Good read. Blessings.

  68. This is definitely a useful article and I think a lot of struggling authors need to keep this in mind… I have learned the hard way years ago via online forums… those that do nothing but criticize and gripe get no respect from the other users and instead end up just getting ignored (or sometimes even banned from the forum).

    As an author, when I released my first book (a collection of short stories related to Thailand), I received a really nasty comment on Amazon from someone who turned out to also be an author of a short story book related to Thailand. Based on his comment alone, it was obvious that he couldn’t have read the book (and given my book had just been released and sales were slow) it was unlikely he had read the book and he wasn’t marked by Amazon as being a verified purchaser. The guy even tried to attack me on grammar by suggesting I wasn’t a native English speaker (I suspect he deduced this purely because my name is Scandinavian).

    I know I shouldn’t have, but I emailed him with a fairly harsh reply and suggested he should remove his comment. In hindsight, I shouldn’t have bothered, as his response would have been predictable. Fortunately, I also contacted Amazon who agreed that he had breached Amazon’s comments guideline (you can’t comment on a competitor’s product), and they removed his comment.

    The lesson here… avoid negative comments. Since writing that first book, I have moved on, and I have built up contact with other authors of the same genre (as well as expats and members of Thailand centric forums), and this guy has built himself up a bad reputation… and he doesn’t even realize it. Bad publicity does definitely spread faster than good, and acting like an a##h### does not build a readership (or colleagues).

  69. I disagree that the man with the military comment was a troll. He was an angry person with a different world view taking his comment too far, but not a troll. Trolls, in my book, post random shit for the sake of it.

    I get your point about book reviews. I’m prone to those myself. I just love sharing my opinion on books. It’s my way of exploring fiction and realizing what I’d like to do or what I wouldn’t wanna do. What would you say is the limit for how bad a book review can be? 3 stars?

    1. Sorry Gry, he was a troll. He personally attacked ME. You can disagree and be respectful and this was a HUMOR post. It also was only ONE of SEVEN rants he left before I kicked him off the blog. You don’t agree with my worldview? Move on. Or act like an adult. Nothing he said was constructive. It was all an emotional rant and completely unreasonable. And if we allow stuff like this in the comment section, it will scare people from commenting. He is they guy at the party who is out of control and needs to be shown the door.

      Us being “nice” is not healthy. Relationships should have boundaries.

  70. I’m not commenting to be put in the hat – just to say that I really enjoyed your blog. Witty and thought provoking – a great combination 🙂

  71. If I receive a nasty comment, I respond as politely and professionally as possible. If the person continues and tries to turn the dialogue into a debate, I simply refuse to respond anymore. I leave it on the page as a way to show whomever is reading that I try to be as fair as possible in reading and responding to all comments.

  72. Truthful. Insightful. I’v been blogging over a year and at first I was afraid of the comment section. So far everyone has been kind and supportive, but I anticipate one rude comment at some point. Unfortunately, people project their anger onto others and the ability to hide behind a computer makes it that much easier. I try to be polite and professional; not confrontational. I want my blog to be a safe place for survivors. We have all been cut down with words enough. Thanks for the post. I enjoy the informative posts.

  73. I like to keep trolling comments wherever they are. I’ve noticed that professionals either ignore them or laugh at them. I like to do both: ignore their criticism (unless it’s valid, of course, and in that case they aren’t really trolls, are they?) or laugh at them, as I imagine the vast majority of them are probably forty-eight-year-olds still living with their parents and flossing their teeth with their toe nails. Not ones for me to worry about.

  74. Brava! Carry on, girl.

    • Rachel Thompson on February 12, 2015 at 10:17 am
    • Reply

    Nasty doesn’t help anyone. I read bloggers I don’t agree with politically or on other levels but if they have something to contribute in the topics I’m interested in, I go with it. It’s not about feelings or social debates, it’s about learning and growing. What bothers me more are blog responders that just blow sunshine, or spew anger, either way they aren’t engaged in the conversation. Intelligent debate and disagreements based on qualitative facts are fine, emotional driven dribble, not at all. The cult of personality doesn’t stimulate one’s gray matter either which is why I don’t think much of Oprah worshipers. I rather people leave emotional diatribes to Jerry Springer.

  75. I love your blog and am so grateful to Heather Rainier for directing me to it. As Jessica (#65) above commented, I am realising that I have to grow a thicker skin. I shall learn to channel my inner Kevlar-wearing rhino.

  76. Reblogged this on The BiaLog and commented:
    Some great points.

  77. Good three rules. My first one-star review viciously attack me personally because my book was too much. As a reviewer, she received the book free. Ironically, she actually liked the story, but wanted to make a point about the price. The publisher set the price. She got some flack from other people about the review, not me. The strangest part is she keeps trying to be my friend on Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, etc. Cheap shot reviews do not start friendships.

  78. This is great

  79. Well said
    I have beeb through a lot
    I have found myself
    People which i call keyboard heroes love to have an opinion and it just proves to me hiw shallow they are and they arent friends aquaitances or anything really
    Ignore them tell you whst its so hard to do so
    There are times i would love to comment back but reading this and knowing better anyway i know that just posting a feeling that is mine not directed at anyone inparticular but just venting is a better way ti go about it
    But thats the negative or social media 😉 thank you for sharing

  80. Hehe. Yes, social media is where us mouthy people get to learn and grow and become better people. It isn’t bad to practice this in real life either.. but it is hard. 🙂

    • Marie Miller on February 13, 2015 at 10:42 pm
    • Reply

    What I find interesting is that people will actually take that much time to be nasty. Honestly, if you don’t like a blog/email/tweet that’s what the delete button is for. I might not have enough time to read all your posts but I’ve always found the ones that appeal to me to be informative and entertaining. ( Incidentally, I loved your Memorial Day post. If nothing else it made you more human because you fail like the rest of us)

  81. Interesting thoughts on reviewing. Will have to dwell on this a little… I think it makes sense on one of my blogs (geared towards Jewish families), but not specifically on my author blog, so I’ve already kind of semi-stopped. Thanks for sharing this! (newcomer, via Joel Friedlander’s roundup)

  82. So true, there is no need for negativity. Thank you for sharing examples from your blog!

  83. I loved your article. Particularly the part about authors being authors and not book reviewers. I simply don’t have the time. It is either reviewing books or writing, and I have to write. Also, the warning about Twitter is so true! Evil remarks can go viral in seconds. Besides, what do they accomplish? Nothing! Thanks much!

    • Sheila on February 15, 2015 at 1:58 pm
    • Reply

    Here’s my dilemma: I am quite active on facebook, but I’m a fairly radical person who posts views about my radical ideas that don’t have anything to do with the fiction that I write. Some of my libertarian, anti-vax, unschooling, alternative healthcare posts turn people off who might be interested in my books. I have plenty of people who love what I post about, but those people don’t buy my books. Yet if I don’t share a very insightful article or meme or post about something I’m really feeling about one of these topics that I’m passionate about, I feel like I’m not being true to who I am.

    And while I’ve poured my heart and soul into my fiction, I’m not sure what I’d write about in blog posts or facebook posts about them. They’re fun books, and….yeah. That’s all I’ve got.

    I know that writers *should* blog, but I don’t know what I’d blog about. I’ve written these books…they’re really great….yeah, that’s all I’ve got.

    1. Be you and unfriend those who can’t like all of who you are and make room for those who can. You are the brand, not just your books. That’s 20th century. So long as you aren’t a non-stop rant? They can skim and pay attention to what interests them.

  84. As always I absolutely appreciate your advice. And the way it´s given. Stay awesome, Kristen! 😉

  85. Great advice. I’ve learned the hard way about those reviews. But, in the reverse. Someone gave me the worst review I have so far, then asked me for one in return. I’m so tempted to repay the favor. I also spend to much time reviewing and must write more.

  86. Before I started reading this, I cringed, almost certain I was guilty of some of these. As it turns out, I’ve avoided these shenanigans altogether (woohoo go me!) What are your thoughts on politics, religion and the likes? I do, occasionally, post about them, but I remember someone once telling me you shouldn’t discuss hot button issues on your public pages. Do you think it’s okay, or would it be best to avoid those topics as well?

    1. Tricky. I would never do it on Twitter. Too easy for something to be misinterpreted, go viral and burn you. Post on FB if you must. Just don’t do too much of it. If we wanted to listen to political ranting, we’d watch the news. So don’t feel you need to be a drone, but beware of trolls.

    • Shea Swain on February 15, 2015 at 7:40 pm
    • Reply

    I feel the exact same way. I tell the authors I know and interact with that I support you by buying your book but I do not review them.

  87. Interesting post. I’ve discussed ‘our brand is author not book reviewer’, on my blog 🙂
    http://jolliffe01.com/2015/02/16/can-authors-be-book-reviewers-too/

  88. I had my work stolen (I mistakenly posted on a public board, back in the day I didn’t know any better) and when I posted about it, I got all kinds of flack from ‘her’ supporters. When i didn’t post their nasty comments, I was told that I was a charlatan for not posting their comments. I replied that it was my blog, and if they had anything viable to say (other than berating me) AND posted their names instead of “anonymous”, I would be happy to post it. They never responded. 😉

    Thank you writing this. I made the mistake of posting bad stuff about this incident and soon after deleted the posts because that wasn’t me. I was just angry at the time. Now I never post in the heat of anger, and I tame my comments to be constructive instead of demeaning. No one learns anything from demeaning posts- except that the one writing them is a twit!

  89. Reblogged this on Sunflowers for Moira and commented:
    Three really important lessons.

  90. Reblogged this on Karens Corner and commented:
    This was just too damn good not to reblog!

  91. Reblogged this on DeAnna Ross and commented:
    Some really good points to take away are in this particular blog. Namely about acting professionally online, protecting your brand in doing so, and generally avoiding bad author karma! 😀 Check it out!

  92. I totally had to laugh! I had someone ask me if she could be on my blog because I wrote a zombie book and so did she. I said sure. Then about a day later she left me a horrible review of my book and contacted me to asked when she could be on my blog. I was like, seriously? LOL!

  93. Reblogged this on rebekahganiere and commented:
    Though I think you can review books as an author, I believe you should do it under an alias and only if you have something nice to say. Now I have on occasion left a bad review on a book on GR, but they are almost always a self help book that I didn’t find particularly helpful. Other than that, I agree with this post. You’re an author, a public figure and you need to act as such. There are a ton of personal things I won’t post on Facebook because of it. The moral of this article I feel is, think before you do something that could potentially have lasting consequences for your career. Actors can get away with just about anything, but not so much for authors.

  94. Very interesting post and the comments have been great. I have had experience with other authors, even though I am one, that I did reviews for. I am also a reviewer and blogger. They contacted me privately with what they found wrong or missing in my work. I appreciate each one. They have helped me improve as a writer. I still recall my first review, I gave away on Amazon and they trashed it with a one star. But instead of sulking or getting upset, I read the review closely a hundred times. Then went back to the book and saw that the reviewer was correct on over half of them. I then found an editor after I rewrote the story and the nice thing was being on Amazon, I could un-publish it and re-publish it after it was properly edited. I became a reviewer after that experience. Learning that I needed to read the story as a reader and see things from their prospective. This gave me insight to allow me to write better and be sure it is edited. A.G.

  95. Reblogged this on shannonlwalker and commented:
    Since I’m new on the blogging scene, I’ve been reading others to get advice. This is a wonderful post!

  96. Thank you for this post. I am really new to blogging, and really don’t know what I’m doing yet. Mostly, right now, I’m looking at other blogs, such as yours :), and trying to garner some advice from your written words. So far, this has been my favorite and one of the more informative while still being entertaining.

    1. Great to meet you!

    • Incognita on May 15, 2015 at 11:21 pm
    • Reply

    Thank you for writing this post. It answered a lot of questions about writers and their use of social media. I do have one question remaining.

    In 2003, I made some thoughtless remarks on a message board. The thread in question was a snark thread and I was being snarky. Unfortunately, my remarks hurt someone’s feelings. He/she took screenshots of the posts. This person was able to determine who I am from information in other posts on the message board. Since 2003, he/she has posted the screenshots on her various blogs, other message boards, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, reddit, and Tumblr. Sometimes my name is attached to the posts. Other times, there’s enough information given that a quick internet search will yield my personal information. The latest post of the screen shots, that I know of, was in November 2014.

    For the record, when I realized my thoughtless remarks hurt his/her feelings, I did apologize. I apologized publicly, as a blog comment (under the post containing the screenshot of my comment), as well as privately. That was in 2005.

    Am I the only writer who has done something stupid online that keeps following them around for over a decade?

    Thanks again for this post and your blog. I always enjoy reading here and learn so much.

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