Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The Author Fear Factor is Real #AmWriting

One of the most frustrating things about being an author is the fear factor. I'm not talking about the fear of people reading your work--that's a given and most of us are cool with that. After all, that's why we're writing in the first place--to share stories.

The fear factor that I'm talking about is the fear of standing up for your work or your reputation or your bottom line for fear of being attacked publicly by trolls. It happens all the time. Someone contacts an author, whines about having to pay for a book (a material good that is for sale, that equates hundreds of hours of work by the author), and, if we the author stands up to them and says 'no' to giving it away for free, then WHAM...attack. Or maybe we are passionate about writing edgy content that pushes the envelope and are rendered mute to stand up for our reasoning because that's labeled as "authors behaving badly." So stupid.

Here's what people need to understand: easy reading makes for damn hard writing. This is a job. This is how we support our kids and pay our mortgages. In any other industry if we were unjustly attacked for standing up for our work, that would be absurd. But in the writing industry it's taboo for an author to say, "hey, that's not right" or "I deserve to be paid for my work."

I lurk on reader sites where I see horrifying things that make me wonder why I'm still in this business. People gloating about one starring an author from the synopsis alone--hadn't even read the book but thought it "sounded stupid" and then they gather a bunch of their friends to do the same because it's like a game. This happened to a friend of mine whose book was up for pre-order! No one had read it yet! Someone didn't like her synopsis and trashed it online--publicly on Goodreads--before the book was even launched. She was in tears and I couldn't blame her. She asked me, "why is this worth working sixteen hour days?" I couldn't answer her. Guess what? That malicious attitude can drive a talented author to quit the business all together (which she is considering at this point).

When did this become an us versus them? That's not how it should be--or how it needs to be. This post is not about good or bad reviews--it's about honesty and respect. It's about being authentic. It's about being free to tell stories--some will resonate with certain people and some won't. That's how it goes. But where is all the anger and vindictiveness and entitlement coming from? That's what is confusing me.

As an author, I love readers. Nothing makes my day more than receiving an email or a message on my fan page from someone talking about one of my books. I love it! I enjoy interacting on my fan page over silly memes I may post or random thoughts I may have. It's a thrill. And I love writing, weaving a nail-biting suspense wrapped in some sizzling passion is what sends me to Nirvana.

As a reader, I love authors. Some of the best moments of my life have been spent curled up with a good book. My love of reading drove me to writing. I dreamed of being like Danielle Steele or Nora Roberts or Sydney Sheldon or Heather Graham. I consumed books as a child, teenager, and adult. Even now as I type this I am surrounded by books. If I haven't liked a book, I haven't left a review. In fact, I rarely leave a review unless it's a mind-blowing "oh-my-god-I-loved-this-so-much" kind of thing which actually happened recently with a thriller I'd been reading.

My point is, the author fear factor is driving good writers out of the industry. A few hours ago, my pen name (Dakota Skye) had a disgruntled person who wanted all of "her" books for free--all seven of them. FREE. I said no, mentioned where they were available worldwide to purchase for only $2.99 each--cheaper than most things--and he had a tantrum. He wanted free and called me all sorts of names for not complying.

I ask you...what do you do for a living? Do you expect to be paid?

If you have an opinion, do you feel you can voice it without fear of retaliation at your work place? A lot of authors walk on eggshells for fear of being publicly attacked because of their opinions, their book covers, or simply because they write a certain genre. No wonder people quit.

I'm telling you...the author fear factor is real.

*bites nails* Do I hit publish on this post or not?

Oh, what the hell? At the end of the day, if I'm not true to myself, then there's no point to any of this.


Andrew said...

I think you are both brave and right to make this stand. Trolling is a major problem on the Internet and can cause a lot of stress and anxiety.

For what it is worth I am working on a system to allow reviews to be almost Troll free and if you would like to discuss this with me please drop me a note.

In the meantime keep up the good work and Illegitimi non carborundum

Amber Lea Easton said...

Thanks for your support, Andrew! It means a lot.