Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A Word About The Green-eyed Monster (and I Don't Mean Godzilla!)

Fair warning, this post might get ugly. That’s because I’m talking about the green-eyed monster today. Not Godzilla but something far, far worse. 

Author jealousy.

 I’ve never blogged about it before, but I’ve observed hideous author behavior over the last couple of years, some of it directed at me. Some of it directed at others. I think it's time to take a stand and call it out for what it is: wrong, wrong, wrong.

Everyone, at one time or another, feels like they are not living up to their potential. It’s perfectly okay to look at another author’s success and think, wow, what could I change about my writing or business practices to achieve that?  I don’t think that’s jealousy. Real jealousy is when an author takes an action to sabotage another author’s success in order to make his or herself feel more successful or potentially gain traction on the charts.

Just in case there is any confusion, the following actions are deplorable displays of author jealousy. None of these are good sales strategy or “guerilla” marketing. I don't care if you read about it in an Indie publishing book or heard about it at a conference; these things are unethical

The Obvious

Leaving bad reviews of a competitor's book

Whether you’ve read the book or not, you have a conflict of interest. You cannot possibly rate a direct competitor’s book fairly. And, if your review magically contains a link to your own book, give yourself a big frowny face on your author card. Not cool.

Spreading rumors about an author or book on social media or in private groups

I recently had an author tell me that another competing author had solicited negative “helpful” votes on one of my books from a private group of authors. Apparently, I've heard this has become common practice for some authors and publishers. 

Reporting a book as having inappropriate content when it doesn’t

This one requires no commentary. Awful.

Listing or tagging a book inappropriately in order to attract the wrong audience (and therefore negative reviews) 
The specific instance I’m thinking of was the author of an adult’s only novel finding her title on a list recommended for ages 9-16.

The Not So Obvious

Telling a critique partner his/her work isn’t ready when it is, or that it is ready when it is not
(This one needs no commentary.)

Giving purposefully bad advice 
(Ex: “Don’t worry about hiring a copy-editor. Waste of money. People expect self-pubs to have some errors.")

Discouraging success 
(Ex.: "That blogger/conference/agent represents really big authors. Don’t even bother querying them.")

Attributing someone’s success to things other than their writing
(Ex: “Wow, you must be really good at marketing!” ...because your success couldn’t possibly be due to your writing. “You really got lucky going free around Christmas!” …because otherwise no one would have downloaded your book. “Smart to write a sci-fi when everyone else was writing romance. Now there’s no competition is your genre!” because if there was you wouldn’t be ranking.) These types of comments insidiously undermine an author’s confidence.

Which leads me to this…

Five Reasons You Should Avoid The Green-eyed Monster
  1. Success begets success. Good writing in all genres attracts interest in that genre. A good angel book gets readers interested in buying more angel books. The Hunger Games launched a huge following for dystopian. Sabotaging books like your own only sabotages YOU.
  2. Scheming Undermines Learning. All that time you are spending to feed the green monster could be time spent writing your next book or reading a book on craft. The green monster is a huge time waster.
  3. No one defines your success but you. If you are not happy with yourself selling 300 books per month, you won’t be happy selling 30,000 per month. Self satisfaction comes from within, from knowing how much of yourself you poured into a book and how far you've come.
  4. You miss out on being a part of someone else’s success. It’s a great feeling to watch someone you know really blossom. Even better if you get to be the wind beneath their wings.
  5. It may come back to haunt you. Amazon and others are getting much better at tracking inappropriate activity. No one wants their name associated with an article like this after all. www.forbes.com/sites/suwcharmananderson/2012/08/28/fake-reviews-amazons-rotten-core/ 

What about you? Do you feel author jealousy is a problem? Have you experienced this on your own publishing journey?

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