Monday, April 1, 2013

The Hit-And-Run Commentary

*Reprinted from BeishirBooks at WordPress, April 1, 2013:

Sunday, I had a run-in with another author over on Facebook. (It was in the Writers of Mass Distraction Facebook group, but don't bother looking for it. The thread ceased to exist shortly after the surly fellow departed from the group. I knew he started it to get attention, and I decided he wasn't going to get any. At least not at WMD. What he does elsewhere is not my concern.)

I confess, I am sometimes a hit-and-run commenter. I'll scan the posts, making a few casual comments without giving them much thought. This fellow's post seemed to be designed for one purpose: to get fellow group members to buy his books. That's fine, but taking pot shots at God to sell books is pretty lame. I gave the post a less thoughtful response than some of my fellow group members did. I thought the guy was a jerk. I still do.

He had a surprisingly extreme response which, to make a long story short, resulted in his departure from the group. Okay, so I edited my comment--according to him, after he responded. I don't know. Maybe I did. I didn't notice. I didn't really care. I've posted responses to comments many times, only to find another member's comment had come in before mine, completely changing the way mine sounded. It happens. I didn't throw a hissy fit and go on and on about it, the way he did. It's not a big deal--but obviously, it was to him. Why? Did he pick up on the fact that I wasn't giving him much thought?

Another group member later told me later that he had been lamenting his lack of success elsewhere on the site. That explained his crankiness, as did an email from still another group member who recalled his bad attitude the day before, noting that he rarely interacted with the group anyway, only posting to push his books. I don't recall seeing him there. I knew he was a member, but yesterday was the first time we actually crossed paths.

I am not familiar with this author's work. I've never read any of his books, not even samples. I know nothing of his talents. I have, however, read a few five-star reviews of his work on a review blog I used to follow. The reviewer obviously thinks he's good. His books sound a bit too quirky for my taste, but that's just me.

There are any number of reasons why an author might not be succeeding, even if they're talented writers with well-written books to offer. The website Author Media offers some possibilities and potential solutions. My friend and fellow author Mike Saxton points out that a large number of self-published authors make the mistake of marketing their books to other authors rather than to readers.  Everyone has the same objective: to sell books, not to buy them. I'll buy books from authors who are personal friends, and I'll buy anything else in genres I enjoy--but be realistic. Nobody buys everyone's books, nor should it be expected.

I definitely would not buy a book from an author with such a bad attitude.

We all have our ups and downs; we don't all take our down times out on whoever happens to cross our paths. If we're to survive in this crazy business, we develop thick hides, we learn to roll with the punches, and we accept the realities of it. Self-publishing is not a career for anyone seeking overnight success. The fact remains that most authors--whether traditionally-published or self-published--have to keep their day jobs. Most don't earn enough to write full-time. I believe the estimate, when I was starting out, was 10%. And that's a pretty generous estimate. Furthermore, only a small percentage of those who made a living at it actually became wealthy.

Sometimes, we limit ourselves, our audience by the choices we make. I knew when Collin and I decided to self-publish Chasing the Wind that we were giving up a lot. At a time when most writers couldn't get one agent, we were fortunate to have multiple agents excited about the book--conditionally. After getting past the "this is a movie, not a book" phase, we found ourselves with another choice to make: possibly removing the spiritual elements of the story to make it more mainstream. Not something I wanted to do. Collin was more receptive at that point. Truth be told, I think he still would be.

One agent, who loved my writing and believed the novel could be a big bestseller, felt it could only work if we took out all the supernatural aspects and made it a sci-fi thriller about genetic engineering. After much debate, we finally decided to self-publish. I would write the book I wanted to write, and accept that it would have a much smaller audience.

No regrets. And no whining.

Check 'em out:
Speak of the Devil
Basking in the Afterglow


  1. Good for you a comment is what ever it is at the moment.
    One time I went of on a comment from a "typical very liberal, looking done his nose person NY" on someones else blog. That was a mistake. I should have reamed him over the coals on my blog...

    I am glad you wrote the book you wanted. Way to go Norma !

    cheers, parsnip

  2. This jerk thought I didn't have the right to change my mind because it made HIS comment look off. It was all about him. Everything was all about him.

    Thanks, Gayle!

  3. Nice one, Norma. Whoever that other person was perhaps needed a thicker hide - comments are often just what you think at the (brief) moment. I applaud your ability to do what you wanted, and to do have such a realistic mindset about it!

    1. Thanks, Lulu. I've never been very good at censoring myself, and some people are just too sensitive....

  4. Some people in life are so profoundly self absorbed that they can't see anything beyond themselves. And thin skinned tends to go right along with that. Such is the case with this situation, it seems. In the long run, it's his mistake.

    1. He was making an issue of a non-issue--namely, my changing my comment--which just made him look petty and stupid. If he'd been defending his beliefs, it would have been one thing, but he just ended up looking like a fool.

  5. You find types like this in every profession Norma, I wonder if their bumptious attitude is something to do with low self esteem? Good on you for sticking to you ideals re your book, you have to feel good about what you do or its all for nought right!

    1. That's how it looked to me, Grace. He put up a front, but word had it he had been griping elsewhere about low sales.

      I figure at my age, it's more important to love what I'm doing than to take the money and run...though Collin might disagree!


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