Friday, January 3, 2014

How Being a Douche Can Affect Your Sales

I don't know if it's the extreme weather we've been having. Maybe it's the flattening of sales. Or maybe enough chemicals are in our food and water it's messing up our minds. But a lot of writers have been acting like total douches lately.

Newsflash, folks. I read just about anything. From the Cheerios box to the latest best seller to Playboy. (Yes, I know the joke about reading the articles, but there was a time when Playboy had some great journalism.) And when I meet new authors, a lot of times, I will check out their books.

If the book grabs me, I'll recommend it to someone I know. Not just anyone, mind you. I wouldn't give my mother a Jim Butcher novel anymore than I would give DH a Debbie Macomber book.

So what does that have to do with writers acting like douches?

Why on earth would I pick up your book if I see you acting like douche to other writers? Or even worse, readers?

Because that's what I am when I interact with you. A potential reader. Not some ignoramus you feel you can insult. Not your competition. A reader

When I see you treat people like crap, it doesn't make me want to buy your book. And it obviously doesn't make other people want to buy your books either from your Amazon rankings and the way you bitch about low sales.

Here's a couple of examples:

I met L.M. ("Libbie") Ironside on The Passive Voice. She's witty, charming, and offers terrific insight in the conversations on PG's blog. When I learned she writes about Ancient Egypt (one of my favorite time periods for historical fiction), I immediately checked out her books. I bought them. I loved them. I've been recommending them to my friends who are into Egypt and/or great women in history.

Even sweeter, Libbie checked out my website and asked about the urban fantasy I'm working on based on Egyptian mythology. She did everything right by engaging and showing interest in a potential reader.

Then there's another writer, who I will not name, that I met on a website I will not name. This person was an award-winning trad published author before turning to indie publishing. And it's almost like they think indie publishing is beneath them. Or they think other indie writers are beneath them. Sometimes, it seems a little of both. When this person leave comments on this particular website, they are mean, derogatory, and mostly ignored by the other participants.

The sad part is this person also writes in a genre I adore, and I will probably never pick up one of their books because of their sour attitude and their insults.

While Libbie has a couple of hundred reviews and is ranking in the top twenty on Amazon in her genre for most of her books, the other writer has a handful of reviews and is averaging about a sale a day OUT OF OVER 20 BOOKS despite being an accomplished, talented writer.

Word-of-mouth is the greatest promotion tool in your arsenal, but it is a double-edged sword. A retailer I used to work for commissioned a study that showed for every good experience a customer has, they tell 5 people. For every bad experience, the customer tells 14 people.

Am I saying that you cannot disagree with someone? Of course not. If you're a regular reader, you know that my friend Angie (aka M/M romance writer Angela Benedetti) disagrees with me quite regularly and vice versa. But Angie doesn't insult me and she's respectful in her objections over whatever stand I've made that particular day. Because of HOW she argues with me, if I meet someone who reads M/M romance, I suggest Angie's books.

So think twice about your behavior online. Despite what you may believe, it really can affect your bottom line.


  1. Well-written, Suzan. I don't have anything to add but I did enjoy your post and thought you tied the last sentence in very well to the entire piece.

    Good job, you.

    1. LOL I don't think you have anything to worry about, Whisk. You're also a terrific example of someone who knows how to interact politely with the public.

  2. I think that's a great reminder about writers being readers. What writer doesn't read. I think we sometimes forget that. Not too mention, courtesy is important whether sales are involved or not. Good post.

  3. Hi Sandra! It's amazing how far a little courtesy can go, isn't it? I think that may be the one drawback of technology. We say things through the internet that we'd never say to someone's face.

  4. This time I don't disagree at all. :D

    Seriously, though, if you think about how many books there are to read, even just books in genres and subgenres that I know I enjoy, of how many books are in my TBR pile and how many are on my to-buy shelf on Goodreads and how many are on my Amazon wish list, plus all the new books released every day that I might be interested in... think about all that, and then consider how badly I need to read one particular writer's work. I don't, bottom line.

    To me, a writer acting like a dirtbag in public, whether to other writers or to readers, is doing me a favor. One of my main concerns is weeding down the pile, because there's no way I'll ever read even all the books I know I want to read right now, in the rest of my lifetime, ignoring the yet-to-be-released books that I'll be jumping up and down about. I desperately need to cross books off the list, or better yet, writers and their entire bodies of work. Someone who lets me know they're a dirtbag is doing me a great favor. One scratch of the mental pencil and a few buckets of water vanish from the tsunami of wonderful reading that I'm already trying not to drown in. [wry smile]


    1. Your bring up another good point, Angie. Even if you're not read right away, you still want to be on someone's TBR list.