Burning Bridges as an Author

As I’ve slowly ventured into the world of self-publishing over the last year or two, one thing in particular has struck me: the importance of having a good reputation. It’s not just about presenting yourself well so that readers want to buy your books — it’s also about presenting yourself well so you don’t make enemies.

I’ve heard of several self-published authors who have been the victim of smear campaigns. As in, someone dislikes the author personally, and dedicates themselves to ruining the author’s career. We’re talking getting friends and family to write terrible reviews for the author’s book that drag the book’s rating into the mud.

This is a terrifying thought, especially since Amazon is so notoriously lax about their reviews. There are so many reviews on Amazon that are complete nonsense — I’ve shared a couple of them on this blog, including one where the reviewer straight out admitted in her review that she’d never read the book. I hate the idea that my book could one day get a surge of bad reviews just because someone decides they don’t like me and wants to hit me where it hurts.

Now, I’m not too worried about this, since I’m a pretty nice person (humble, too!), and I don’t make a habit of going around irritating people. But every once in a while a distant acquaintance will do something really awful, and of course my immediate reaction is to call them out on it. Preferably using a lot of dramatic words and run-on sentences. But then I have to stop and ask myself: is it worth it to burn this bridge? Is this going to come back a few years down the road and haunt me?

I ran into this problem today. Not to get into too many details, but basically one of the people who took over running my writers society after I moved cities has been treating a friend of mine really terribly — we’re talking blatant hostility, rudeness, and threats of legal intervention. And the subject this person’s all worked up over is really stupid, making the whole situation even more irritating. I’ve been trying to figure out how to deal with this person for a while now, and after the latest round of stupidity I discovered from her in my inbox today, I got fed up. I informed this person via email to stop contacting me, and explained why as politely and succinctly as I could without resorting to cheap threats or insults. Then I blocked her email address so I don’t have to deal with her inevitable raging, incoherent response.

Did I do the right thing? Probably not. But I didn’t say anything that could get me in trouble (I hope), and I’m really getting tired of all the unnecessary drama, and she really needed a good talking to. Sometimes you just have to put your foot down, and damn the consequences.

Rant over. Return to your previously scheduled activities. Or, share your own stories of dealing with infuriating people!

Unrelated media of the day:

Note: contains curse words. Ahhhh!

Categories: Writing | Tags: , , | 12 Comments

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12 thoughts on “Burning Bridges as an Author

  1. “presenting yourself well so you don’t make enemies” I don’t think that’s going to work, people find the weirdest and flimsiest reasons to go on a hate fueled retribution campaign. Might as well stick to your guns as you did in the story you told.

    • I think it might be a matter of choosing your battles — stick to politeness, unless you really think the person in question needs a stern talking-to. Then it’s just a matter of figuring out who’s worth working yourself up into a rant over πŸ™‚

  2. Kai is right. People out for hate always find a way. Many times it’ll be association. The trick is to not feed the hate because that ends up brung blood in the water. Maybe it’s part of dealing with creative types because we can be oddly sensitive at times.

  3. I just about died at the mustache of a man with nothing to lose. *LOLs and LOLs* Band kids are great.

    • My favourite part is the story about the tubas. I just love the idea of a bunch of kids giggling and plotting and then scarring the daylights out of the entire band. Although to be fair, the conductor sort of had it coming if he didn’t warn them in advance.

  4. CL Mannarino

    Thank you so much for posting the tumblr bit. πŸ™‚ That was a great laugh!

  5. Might as well do your best to be kind, and make the world a little better. There will always be people whose goal is to make the world a little worse, but we don’t have to be one of them!

    What is it with some people, and putting notations in music that really shouldn’t be there? I sang in choir, and while I never saw the equal of that forte-hydra, there were definitely some puzzlers.

    • Isn’t there some sort of golden rule about that — treat others the way you want to be treated? Apparently some people want to be treated really badly, lol.

      I think if a composer ever puts more than three fortes in a song, he/she is probably just doing it for their own amusement πŸ˜€

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