What is the most important thing that independent authors would like to gain? Obviously, this changes from writer to writer, but what is a common goal for most authors? Fame, fortune, and glory? Rolling around on a pile of money raked in by readers who love and adore you?
All of the above would be nice, but it’s not what I’m going to talk about today. I’m talking about simple R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Those of you who just broke out into song, we know who you are.
As independent authors, one of the most common obstacles faced today is that those who independently published do not always receive the same level of respect than mainstream authors who are traditionally published. One of the arguments heard, is that writers only publish independently because their work is not good enough to procure an agent and contract by a traditional publisher.
We all know the fallacy of such an argument. I have personally read many books written by independent authors whose quality of work by far surpassed the work of a traditionally published, or even mainstream, author.
The reasons behind fellow writers’ decisions to be independently published or even self-published are vast and I won’t be going into them here.
Well, what are you going to talk about then??
Let’s get back to that word I used before. Respect. And honestly, who doesn’t want that? You certainly don’t have to be an independent author, or even be a writer for that matter, to desire respect.
How do you receive respect? It couldn’t be simpler. By your words and actions unto others, are you rewarded respect. Doesn’t sound complicated, does it? It shouldn’t be hard for each and every one of us to be filled with the lovely warm glow of satisfaction by receiving the gift of respect.
Yet, some of us fail in this regard. There are some who fail miserably at it. There are those out there who simply do not gain the respect of others, because their own actions do not condone it.
I am not speaking about the majority of independent authors. I am not even speaking about a fraction of them. There are people out there, who prove time and time again, that a select few can ruin the whole.
Here is where I give you an example, and you can decide for yourselves. I consider myself truly lucky and blessed to be able to call Misty Baker, aka @KindleObsessed, a friend. Through shared klutzy moments of running into walls and high frequency of tripping/falling over objects, we have bonded.
Misty’s blog is best known for her review of the countless books available on the Kindle. She has reviewed a plethora of both traditionally and independently published authors. Her blog has an incredible amount of followers who love to see what her opinions are and what she has to say about anything and everything book related.
When I was scrolling through my twitter feed, I happened upon a tweet by Misty that piqued my interest. The frustration and dismay was apparent in her voice (er, um, tweet). When I asked her what was going on, she let me know.
With her permission, I pass her story onto you with the hopes that this will be heard. I will not be naming the author’s name here, nor will I give it if you ask me in any of our social settings. I am merely going to relate the actions of a fellow independent writer.
Misty has a long list of books that wait patiently in her TBR pile like most of us voracious readers. The difference is that she receives twenty review requests every day from writers for her blog. Like I said, KindleObsessed is a popular blog, and this is a great way to get your name out there. The only catch is this: you get what you ask for. Meaning, Misty gives honest critiques of what she has read.
Last summer, by request, Misty read and reviewed a book for her blog. This book did not fare well and received two out of five stars. Yes, some of the review was a little harsh, but it was by no means cruel. And the review even went so far as to say that even though the book was not done well, the author’s writing was beautiful.
The Continuing Saga…
Instead of taking the honest critique (that this person asked for!) and accepting one person’s opinion, the author went on a rampage. This author was furious that Misty critiqued him so harshly. And if you think that I’m kidding, that I’m blowing this person’s reaction out of the water (C’mon, maybe this author was steamed, but really…), the author posted on their facebook wall last week (more than SIX MONTHS later) that all of his fellow comrades should publically flame Misty because of her mistreatment of him and his novel.
His call of action led to many of his friends heading over to Amazon, where she also posts her reviews, and began to brutally attack her personally on the boards and indexes. They were quite rude and unprofessionally commented on her reviews, trying to lower her credibility and ratings.
Not only did they attempt to incite things on Amazon, but they then headed over to her blog, where she uses her personal email address for contact information (girl, this should be a sign…) and sent her multiple personal, hateful attacks to her via email.
When Misty told me that this was not the first time she had suffered so from an independently published author, and she was ready to call it quits on reviewing any and all authors who were independently published, I was not surprised
I can sit here and list countless independent authors who are amazing, wonderful, and gracious. Authors who will accept critiques and honestly take a second look at their work to see how they can improve. Or, if they honestly believed that the criticism was not deserved, brush it off and move on.
I can tell Misty that for every single author out there who has the reaction of a five year old, there are a thousand more out there that have the maturity level of a grown adult and do act professionally.
I can say all of this, and I do believe it. But we see examples every day in today’s society where a solitary part can ruin it for the whole.
Now Misty has not proclaimed that she will no longer review independent publishers. In fact, she realizes that one piece of rotten fruit does not make the whole bushel bad. But it’s important that authors like these do bring these thoughts to the surface of reviewers and readers.
So I bring you to my point. I plead with you, my fellow writers and the whole of humanity. I am putting forth a…
Call To Arms!
Deep down we all desire approval. But to what cost? Pride goeth before the fall, so they say. And in my eyes, this author has fallen as low as a person can get.
And before you say that my reaction is solely because Misty is a friend of mine, consider this. I can honestly say that I have seen other examples of this over the past year. I have seen author’s reactions on other sites, other blogs, and on Amazon. Each and every time I see this happen, I literally feel sickened by the actions of that person.
I started this post stating that one of the most important things an independent author can receive is respect. Respect is not given freely, it is earned. Above all us, be a professional. Treat others as you would be treated. This is hardly a new concept, but it is so important.
How will we ever be taken seriously if we have to fight through the actions such as those posted above? We want people to respect us. We want to be considered on the same level of professionalism as those authors who are traditionally published.
Authors, such as the one whose story I just shared, cast dark stigmata on the rest of us. Is it fair that a handful of people with similar actions make the entire independently publishing community look bad? Of course not, but life’s not fair and generalities are common.
We cannot speak for others, only for ourselves. It is up to us to make others see us as we want them to see us. It is up to us to earn the respect that we strive for.
Be that person! Be that professional! By our actions we can make this happen.
great post janelle, when will people grow the f*ck up and act like an adult…. anyone out there who can’t take a bad review should crawl back into the hole they came from and skip publishing, sheesh, a
I’ve been lucky on my blog so far to have received only positive feedback on the reviews I’ve posted (maybe my decision NOT to set stars helps soften the blow for the truly bad), and I’ve wondered why there are so many sites out there that have decided not to review indies… I guess this is part of the answer. But then I’ve heard of repped authors behaving badly too… So maybe it’s just a societal question of why some people persist in Peter Pan-land and don’t grow up and put on their big-girl panties when they get negative feedback… It’s a challenging question.
Uncalled for bullshit and very-un-badass behavior. Seems like she’s doing reviews on her own time and cause she loves doing them – so let her do her thing and if you don’t agree then you don’t agree – BUT – bet they’d have been posting a good review all over the place, stapling copies of it to telephone poles sending it out with those dumb ‘here’s what my family did this year’ Xmas cards. Double-standard trick-foolery is not badass and gives indies a bad name. If you want to call yourself a professional author then you gotta act professionally when it comes to reviews, critiscism, biz-ness, networking, and general meet and greeting the people who wanna check out or have checked out your work. I hope she doesn’t let a classless attack remove her from the game.
Gordon Bonnet (@TalesOfWhoa) said:
Wow. That is tacky in the extreme. Very well written, Janelle, and a good idea for us all to recommit to acting in the most professional way possible. I don’t know Misty, but please encourage her from me anyhow (if a total stranger’s encouragement helps) that not all indie writers are like this, and that she should never stop giving honest reviews because of the classless actions of a few people.
Jeremy Laszlo said:
Even as a new Indie author, I already have come to realize that a few of those who came before me have made it more difficult for those of us who want an honest review. After reading author horror stories on the kindle boards about these writers who will stop at nothing, beleiving that they have the best work ever published, and reading the above, and after being turned away from more than a few book review blogs simply because I am indie, Im beginning to wonder if I have chosen the wrong path to publication. It is a shame really, because I have read some amazing indie material, and believe my books should have an equal chance of garnering an honest review as any other book. Only time will tell however, and until that day comes I hope your call to arms has at least some positive effect on Indie author Karma.
J.c. Phelps said:
I too am proud to call Misty a friend, and her professional actions and yours by not releasing the author’s name is deserving of respect.
It is scary for me (an independently published author) that things like this happen because it does make it near impossible to be read by professional reviewers, like Misty.
I really appreciate you taking the time to point out the link to respect and behaving in a professional manner – no matter what. It’s too often forgotten and overlooked how important our actions are to everyone else.
L.K. Rigel said:
Misty is hilarious, smart, entertaining, and works hard at putting out great reviews and other commentary. If you follow her on Facebook, you know she’s always posting interesting links about the world in general.
I’m so sorry Misty had to suffer such crappy treatment.
Wren Emerson said:
There’s literally nothing to lose if you behave like a spoiled child in public as an indie writer. If you crash and burn under one name, it’s only a matter of minutes to create a new one. Pen names are wonderful, but they also grant unlimited do overs to those who don’t want to have to think of the long term consequences of their actions.
Review are scary, asking for them is scary. If you have been around the last year you need to know that working with an editor is essential. Any writer hoping to further themselves up the food chain need to be professional at all times or as much as they can. You should know the deal when you submit a book for review, what you’ll get. If they are completely honest, ect. Don’t send them unless you are positive you have done all you can to make it the best it can be. At the same time, you don’t need smoke blown up your ass. Bashing someone, anyone, is completely unacceptable.
I hope she continues to review independent authors as I’m one of them. We sure face enough negative comments as it is. Don’t let one sour lemon spoil the pot. Some people are just jerks.
Some people should never write to be published. Independent, honest reviews are worth there weight in gold– to help make me a better writer. The only critiques I hate are the ones where someone read 3 pages of a book and makes an opinion. And I keep my dislike to myself.
I would love to have Misty Baker review any of my books! A reader and lover of books is a treasure to enjoy! Thank you Misty.
Interesting post. I once had an acquaintance read a story of mine and she was actually quite harsh on it and felt bad for being so -but I kept telling her: it’s okay, what I wanted from her was her honest opinion. Publishers always tell writers to have someone read their work who isn’t a friend or family member so that someone can give an honest opinion -it makes you better as a writer. That being said I still fear someone leaving a bad review just to exploit a chance to let out their inner A-hole. -There is a difference between constructive criticism and destructive negativity. The feeling I get is that Misty Baker was being fair with her criticism and that’s all I would ask for.
Robert "Sharky" Pruneda said:
This individual who attacked Misty after she gave an honest review is obviously writing for the wrong reasons. It sounds to me that he’s more interested in boosting his ego than sharing his writing for the pure love of the craft. It’s really sad.
I believe any feedback, both positive or negative, is beneficial to us as authors. If we receive a negative review (or negative feedback in person, via email, etc.), it’s very important that we do not take it personal. It’s an opportunity to really think about what may or may not be working. As authors, we can agree or disagree with negative reviews, but chances are if we reread those reviews with an open mind we’ll find that it’s just going to make us better writers in the long run.
Excellent post, Janelle!