You will probably never know who is listening.
My personal feelings about this hurtful post on an social media site have caused me to remove the author's book from my 'to read' list and send out three 'decline to read' emails to friends who were looking to read it along with me. I wish the author the best on their journey - an exceptional journey that has already reached heights that most authors dream of - sadly, I will not be one of this author's fans. Not because the book isn't a wonderful story but because of a hurtful statement made in an open forum to others. I feel I should state that the author was not speaking to me so, my thoughts are not about a personal interaction with said author or because I'm in a fetal position in the corner feeling sorry for myself after being bitten by unkind words.
As most of you know, I'm new to publishing and promoting/marketing. I've been writing since childhood but the business of writing is new to me, as I know it is to many of you. It is hard to know exactly how to promote your writing if you have not hired a team of experts to guide you through the process. Promoting your writing is in essence, promoting yourself. It is good to keep that in mind when we are speaking in public. All social media sites are public forums and our words are carried great distances on cyber breezes beyond where most of us are able to fathom.
We also want to be mindful at all times of being too invasive. Like us, other people are busy. I receive many invitations to events by authors from several sites around the web. There are countless new authors experimenting with various types of marketing in an effort to get their books in front of those who will read them. It's impossible to attend every event, which means that I must bow out of several each week. I also miss many invitations because I simply do not see them in time. That does not mean that I do not smile and say "Way to go, Author You!". I'm happy to see people grab onto their dreams and shake things up. We could do more than that, though. As authors, I believe we should help other authors promote even if it's only a tweet about their book or event.
Back to the post that I mentioned earlier. Sadly, not everyone is happy to see another author doing well or trying to do better. What is even more troublesome is to see someone climbing to the top of the field with the help of others and then pulling the ladder up behind them. When others help us climb to the top of the mountain, shouldn't we be thoughtful enough to hold the ladder for them? At the very least, shouldn't we be gracious enough to say thank you for inviting us to XY or Z, wish them good luck and send out a simple tweet, Google+ or Facebook post for their event? Something - anything that lets them know that you recognize their efforts in a seemingly overpopulated sea of authors. Statements about their efforts worded in a way that are meant to sting or belittle them in some way, are not helpful to anyone.
What can we do? Helping struggling authors or anyone in any field takes only a few moments out of your day. Sometimes, a kind word is all it takes. If you've reached the top, hold the ladder for those coming up behind you. Share your experience with them. There's no need to give away all your secrets but sharing what you've learned with others is a connection that they will not likely forget. The other side of that coin - being rude and sniping at others will also be remembered and probably for much longer. If you've read the author's book, write a review. Amazon makes it easy to write reviews. Reviews are a bright spot in the author's day.
When a new author is having an online book launch party, giving away prizes, entered into contests and all number of things, stop by their party even if you can't stay but a minute. Say hi and wish them good luck with the book. If you have something to offer such as a free copy of your own book, share that with them to help build their prize packages for the launch. It has nothing to do with what we believe our work is worth, it is a marketing tool. The more your stories and name are out there, the more visible you are to the reading public. That's what all authors wish for, right? If they have a book trailer or story entered in a contest, take a couple of minutes to go over and vote for them. Now, I'm not saying that you should vote for every author in every contest. This is especially true if you haven't read the story, watched the trailer or if for some reason, you find their particular genre disagreeable. After all, if I don't care for red polka dotted, yellow crocodiles with pomegranates for heads, I'm not going to read about them or vote for them in a contest.
Lest we forget, we were not born on top of the mountain of our writing careers. Everyone has to climb to the top. Very few have made that climb alone. For all of us who are still climbing the mountain; cinch up your harnesses, stock your bag with cams, chocks and hexes, get a good grip on your axe and remember to allow a little slack in the rope for the unexpected. It's time to dig in and make it to the summit. Pay no mind to those who are throwing rocks over the edge - tuck in tight and write!
Way to go, Author You!