Friday, September 18, 2009

Rewarding Bad Cyber-Behavior

from Emily Bryan ...

Amid all the talk of rudeness that seems to pervade our public life now, I noticed an interesting blog phenomenon this week. I stumbled onto a fairly well-known writer's blog (no, I won't reveal his name because it would only drive more traffic to his site!). He was complaining about unpublished authors asking him for favors. In a really snotty tone.

His site gets 45,000 hits a day. He had over 300 comments. On one post.

Blunt, I'm ok with. Forceful, I understand. Nasty? Not so much. I get that you probably need to be controversial in order to draw that sort of readership, but do you have to also be mean-spirited about how you express your views?

At the risk of sounding prissy, I wonder if there doesn't need to be a Miss Nettiquette reminding people that just because you can't see and don't know who you're talking to, it doesn't mean you can be a total sphincter!

In a Survivor-mentality World, I know I'm tilting at wind-mills here. But my Midwestern soul just rises up and says (politely, of course!) "Why can't you say what you have to without demeaning others in the process?"

Then the practical side of me whispers "What do you think would happen to your career if your blog got 45000 hits a day?"

I'm sure I could come up with some good zingers to hurl into cyber-space. It might draw more readers if I whine and complain or dish dirt on other writers. A good web-feud sucks people in. People will watch with horrified fascination at a cyber-flame up. Why, I could be on Oprah (the Holy Grail of book marketing) if only I was willing to open a vein and give the world a peek into any private pain I might have.

And then I remember that I have to wash my own face each morning.

And cynically nasty-ing up my blog posts in order to start a web-fire would make facing the mirror a tough thing.

So don't expect me to start trash-talking. It may be in me, but it's not coming out as long as I can help it.

P.S. Please join me and my fellow-Chatelaine Jennifer Ashley at The Romance Studio today for excerpts of kissing scenes from A CHRISTMAS BALL!


Barbara Monajem September 18, 2009 at 9:14 AM  

I'm all for the "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all" approach to both life and cyber life. Thanks for the great post.

Christie Craig September 18, 2009 at 9:17 AM  


So very, very true. We shouldn't have to cut/hurt others to make ourselves look good.


Stacey Joy Netzel September 18, 2009 at 11:13 AM  

Emily, I agree! And while sometimes I'll go look at a site with something like that, if they really annoy or turn me off, I just won't buy their stuff anymore.

EmilyBryan September 18, 2009 at 11:48 AM  

Barbara--That's what my mom always told me too. But unfortunately, it doesn't seem to drive traffic to the cyber-door like saying whatever snarky thing pops into your head.

Why do you suppose we're drawn to the "dark side" of cyber-life?

EmilyBryan September 18, 2009 at 11:49 AM  

Hey Christie! You're so sweet, I can't imagine you even thinking anything cutting.

Jennifer Ashley/ Allyson James / Ashley Gardner September 18, 2009 at 11:54 AM  

I think cyberspace is getting to be a very dark place. It's like: If you can't say anything nasty, you don't belong here!

I think on the whole, I'd rather just write books. :-)

EmilyBryan September 18, 2009 at 11:56 AM  

Stacey--I have to admit, there are a couple authors whose work I no longer support because of offensive, obnoxious things I've heard them say. (And no, wild horses won't drag their names through my lips.)

People have a right to say or believe anything they want. I have a right not to buy their books.

EmilyBryan September 18, 2009 at 12:01 PM  

Jennifer--The whole "sensational" factor has always been with us. During the Georgian/Regency/Victorian era, it was the daily tabloids with their juicy on dits and innuendos. No one wanted to read about anything but the seamier side of the lives of the ton. Outrage and scandal sold the papers.

Our journalism today is full of the same "let's stir the pot" mentality. Guess I shouldn't be surprised when that's what draw attention to itself on the web too.

And I am certainly glad you'd rather write books, Jenn! Your Valentin in A CHRISTMAS BALL is as dark and delicious a hero as anyone could wish!

Amy C September 18, 2009 at 1:41 PM  

For me, if I stumble across a blog that is being nasty, I never stumble again. And if it's a blog I have visited in the past, it's very difficult for me to want to visit again. I don't do the nastiness. And I don't promote the nastiness by leaving comments. Well, I did once, and then thought why in the world did I even bother?? But it was a friends blog, so that's why. I just like to talk about books and the things that I like to do with my family. I have enough drama at home, I don't need it in my blogging too!

Barbara Wallace September 18, 2009 at 2:15 PM  

Wow - I found the original post. What surprised me more was how many people not just condoned his rudeness but applauded him for it. If you ask me, a whole lot of people are riding the wrong way on the karma train.

You are so right - there are many ways of making your point without being arrogant or rude. Perhaps he should read your post for an example of how tactful communication works. Sadly, you're also right, I fear, that nasty gets the visibility. Whatever happened to catching more flies with honey than vinegar?

Great rant, btw!

EmilyBryan September 18, 2009 at 4:29 PM  

Amy C--I'm so glad to hear that. Like you, I just want to talk about books, fun stuff and things that are happening in my life and the lives of my readers.

I figure there are enough people in the world trying to drag us down. Why not try to lift each other up?

EmilyBryan September 18, 2009 at 4:33 PM  

Hey Barbara! Yikes, I fed his traffic without meaning to!

I wonder too, if he gets away with his nasty tone because he's male. Men typically don't give a rip what anyone else thinks about them and in this case it's working in his favor. If a woman posted the same exact words, I bet she'd be universally torn to pieces---and mostly by other women!

Patricia Barraclough September 18, 2009 at 7:12 PM  

Civility in our society has really taken a hit. The put down and nasty comment are too commonplace. For some reason, people think that tearing someone else down will make them look better. They are so wrong.
A Miss Nettiquette is needed and would certainly be appreciated.

Sandy September 18, 2009 at 11:06 PM  


It's sad but it needs to be said. There are way too many rude people in this world today. I think it has to do with the 'me' attitude.

Thanks for the post.

stephpatterson September 19, 2009 at 2:50 AM  

Thanks for a superb post, Emily. I agree with you completely. There shouldn't be the need for nastiness if you have plenty of readers anyway - but there definitely is a 'sheep' attitude in many people: One says something nasty, and all agree. Just for the sake of it. Very sad.

On a similar note, I was a moderator on a holiday forum for a while and stopped when people got aggressive at others for no obvious reason. I had enough of that when those people weren't even banned. Not my cuppa tea.

Good on you for raising this issue. :-)

Terri September 19, 2009 at 6:14 AM  

Okay, I hate it when authors aren't nice to their buying public. You can say rotten things nicely and make them seem not so bad. HELLO, you write books, you have the skills!

That being said, I've very careful on which authors blog I read. I review books and it's hard enough to read and try to stay somewhat impartial without having bad feelings toward the author. Okay, it's also hard to write a your book could have been better to an author you love too but I'd rather have that then try to get write a good review for an author who is a jerk.

Plus, if you make me mad, I probably won't buy your next book. I'll read it but just won't buy it so you won't get the little bit of royalties that my buying it would give you. Petty, yes but what can I say?


EmilyBryan September 19, 2009 at 8:19 AM  

Patricia--I want to believe you, but the numbers seem to be in the "say any nasty thing you want" column.

Amanda McIntyre September 19, 2009 at 8:27 AM  

This is long overdue and I applaud you for bringing this to light, Emily. I do agree that it has a lot to do with the *me* attitude.

Something which, I feel unfortunately is prepetuated--in part--by virtue of the mad(sometimes mindless) scramble to get on those bestseller lists, to make sure that next book gets contracted before someone else gets the idea.

Now, don't misunderstand, there is a measure of aggressiveness required in anything where you have "promotion and career-planning " and then there is the other road where the word "integrity" seems to go by the wayside.

It staggers the mind to what lengths some will go to get noticed. Perhaps it is, too, my midwestern upbringing that makes me appauled by such behavior.

I had thought before reading this that maybe I hadn't developed the "right stuff" yet-- of what it takes to be a successful author.

Certainly the trend towards this *all about me* 'tude, gives cause to wonder what constitutes real success.

Refreshing,inspiring and insightful! Thank you!

Amanda M.

EmilyBryan September 19, 2009 at 8:28 AM  

Sandy--Yes, "me first" has something to do with it, but in truth, I agreed with many of this author's points. We all have only 24 hours a day and our own work and family has to come first. We can't say yes to every request, and I have had to say no a few times myself (and felt mean and low when I did it, but a writer has to set priorities.)

But when I turned down the people who asked for a cover quote from me or a critique, I hope I did it without demeaning them for asking.

And on the subject of cover quotes: I committed a faux pas myself when I was first published. I directly asked a published writer in my RWA group at the time and inadvertantly put her in the uncomfortable position of having to tell me "no." (She wrote Regency when I was doing Vikings and felt her readership wouldn't follow her there--which made perfect sense to me when I thought about it. She was just the best known author I knew at the time.)

She also told me that the proper "author ettiquette" for cover quotes is to go through the author's agent or publisher, so they don't have to turn you down personally. It's definitely more comfortable all the way around.

So many problems can be solved if we just respect each other's time.

EmilyBryan September 19, 2009 at 8:30 AM  

Steph-- I hosted Angela Wilson, who does the Book blog for Pop Syndicate on my blog once and she shared some hair-raising tales of authors behaving badly to blog owners who are giving them a promo platform for FREE! And reviewers have confided to me that sometimes authors contact them to ream them for their review. Very bad form.

EmilyBryan September 19, 2009 at 8:55 AM  

Terry--About giving less than stellar reviews to authors you know and like. My attitude is you should say what you have to say (nicely, of course, as I know you will!). As the proverb says, "Faithful are the wounds of a friend."

EmilyBryan September 19, 2009 at 8:59 AM  

Amanda--You definitely have the right stuff and you're always helping other writers.

Amanda McIntyre September 19, 2009 at 10:32 AM  

I'm not sure I'm fully "cooked" just yet,Emily, though it is kind of you to say. I'm always learning. I think we all are--positively or negatively speaking.

What it boils down to, which you put so well, is being able to look at the face in the mirror and like what you see.

Seems a bit odd, that there would some who write about characters of integrity and hero/heroine like behavor and yet, would stoop to nastiness to elevate themselves.

Damn I must be old school-which is why I love Tetris and my kids think I'm ancient history. ;)


Barbara Wallace September 19, 2009 at 10:35 AM  

I truly understand the idea of respecting authors' time and space. But I think it's important to remember writers aren't the only professionals who are asked for favors. I think of my doctor friends who are asked to make off the cuff diagnoses or my friend the engine repair guru who everyone asks to fix their power tools.

I think that's why I got annoyed at that particular author's rudeness. His blog made it sound like he's the only person put upon on this earth. Everyone oversteps these days. And while not right, it doesn't give anyone permission to be rude.

Also, as a newly published author, I guess I'm more open to requests than my more established colleagues. Maybe because I feel it's my turn to pay it forward for a little while.

Okay, I'm rambling. I'll stop now. BTW, I just discovered your blog; I'll have to mark it as one I'm following.

Bonnie Vanak September 19, 2009 at 12:37 PM  

Hey Emily, been meaning to ask you... can you give me a cover quote? ;-)


Great post. Good advice and well-said.

EmilyBryan September 21, 2009 at 6:40 AM  

Sure thing, Bonnie! I'll even have my DH draw the cover art for you! You like stick people, don't you? ;-)

EmilyBryan September 21, 2009 at 6:48 AM  

Barbara--The thing is, the author whose post originally set me off does actually do a lot to help other authors. He does workshops, speaks to writers organizations and has featured other authors' work on his blog. He is giving back and that's great.

Why does he have to take such a snide, sarcastic tone while outlining what he won't do for others? Is it because he cynically knows his combative, derogatory tone is what fuels the blog hits?

Cindy Holby

Gerri Russell

Joy Nash

Bonnie Vanak

Emily Bryan

C.L. Wilson

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