8 Dos and Don'ts For Authors
Updated: Mar 20, 2019
Engage with readers and fans
Make a special Facebook group for your fans and invite them via newsletter or even in the back of your book by the acknowledgements. In a group, you can control who is in and how it functions, but also post things more specific to your readers. Hold contests with prizes, share cover reveals, and host a FAQ where fans can ask questions ahead of time, answering via Facebook live or a pre-recorded video post. Get fan feedback on book titles, names, and locations. Just engage!
Get personal and share what you love
Share the natural you. There’s no need to fake a persona, and that’s tiring to keep up anyway. Share your favorite things, from a great new eyeliner, lotion, or video game, to other authors’ books you’ve enjoyed, and your go-to herbal tea. Friends, fans, and readers want to know the real you, snuggled on the couch with your dog on your feet, and three Cadbury wrappers next to you. Keep it real.
Join author groups
Writing is often a very solitary process, but it doesn’t have to be. Joining author groups online can be a fantastic asset. There are groups for every different genre and experience level. These are a great place to make contacts with editors, proofreaders, cover artists, and other authors who write like you. Ask questions and commiserate together. Making friends (even virtual ones) is especially great if you meet up at the same conferences, want to get help promoting your book, or need encouragement to keep going after a scathing review.
Show behind the scenes
Authors spend a lot of time doing things other than punching keys. Sharing what’s going on behind the scenes helps you connect to your readers. Going on a trip to research for your next book? Share pictures of your adventures, or better yet, live stream them for your groups. Spending ten precious minutes in the carpool line typing on your laptop? Post a picture on Instagram. Having a celebratory cake for finishing a first draft of the next book? Yup, post about it and let your readers celebrate with you.
Comment on reviews
Yes, they said the book kept them up until 3AM because they just had to finish it but then gave you three stars. They don’t read that genre and decided to anyway and (big surprise) didn’t like it, two stars. You had four errors (despite three expensive editors) so they gave you three stars. It happens. You’re probably going to get a few bad reviews, consider it a rite of passage. Under no circumstances are you to comment back. It will not convince them you deserve more stars, and will always make you look bad. Yes, they are more brutal on Goodreads, move on or avoid reading them. Take it from The Writing Cooperative, “Constructive criticism will help you improve, but offensive criticism should be dismissed.”
Bash other authors
It’s good practice in any field not to bash your co-workers. The writing community is a small one, probably closer than four degrees separates an indie author and a six-figure-earning traditional author. Take Thumpers advice, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” You’ll be better off for it.
You should have learned this one in school, but it bears repeating. Do not steal someone’s work and try to pass it off as your own. There are several cases a year where someone tries this and ends out in court. Don’t be that person. You’re better than that. Changing a few names and adding in a couple paragraphs is not making your own story. It’s stealing; it’s dishonest; and it’s illegal.
Go it alone
No one can distance themselves from their own work to judge it effectively. Find a good content editor and take their advice. After you’ve made the changes they suggest, get a quality proofreader to check your grammar and punctuation. You’ve spent a lot of time developing your plot and characters, and an editor will really help make your story shine.
There’s much more to being an author than these eight dos and don’ts, but they are a good starting point. Now get out there! Be genuine, and you’ll be fine.