Proper Author Behavior

Back in September, I wrote a post about a short story that I had written and some very kind DarkCargoites volunteered to be beta readers. I found out this week that it was officially purchased for an upcoming anthology(many details unannounced) . This will be my first published story.

I am certain that this will be the first step to massive literary stardom and so, now I have to figure out proper online author behavior. From watching published authors behave on blogs, Facebook, and Twitter, I feel like I have an understanding of some of the basics. Correct me if I am wrong but, I think that these are five good rules.

1) It’s okay to tell people that you have a story coming out. After all, the reason I am following your posts is because, presumably, I like you/what you do and would like to know more.

2) It is not okay to be a hype machine. Remind me once in a while but, come on! I’ll get to it when I get to it. Maybe that’s today, maybe that’s next year. I have a life!

3) It’s okay to talk about what you’re working on. I liked that last thing you did. What’s the next thing? Maybe I’ll like that, too. If I really like you, tease me, baby. Time traveling superhero monkey? Oh, yeah. Looking forward to that.

4) It’s not okay to ONLY talk about what you’re working on. I care about how many words you wrote today the same as I care about your breakfast: sometimes. Was it new and interesting or was it just breakfast?

5) All of this is to say, be a human. There is a rule of thumb floating around for creatives: one out of every five posts/tweets/updates can be about the thing you’re selling. The other four must be about you being human. What do you like besides yourself? What are you reading/watching/listening to? That makes you a human. I like humans.

Next up: How to convince someone that they should buy an anthology because it has one of your stories in it. Bleh. Being an author is hard.

About jonahknight

Jonah writes, records, and performs songs about ghosts, monsters, steampunk, and creepy Christmas tunes. Is that geek music? Nerd music? Filk? Who knows. Find more at He also co-hosts (with Mikey Mason) the Pros and Cons podcast. A Parsec Finalist, the show is about geek music and convention culture.

17 thoughts on “Proper Author Behavior

  1. Those are all great but I think it is very important for authors to tell their readers what they are reading….or rather what they are reading that is awesome. If I like reading you then I may like what you are reading. A book endorsement from my favorite author goes a long way towards convincing me to read a new author.

  2. Congratulations, that is wonderful! Very happy for you. I do personally think it is okay to be your own hype machine. If you won’t do it, no one else will, believe me. You want more sales of future stories? Have the anthology your story is in get good sales, especially good first week sales. Hype away, I say.

    One thing you forget in “proper author behavior”: don’t get engaged in online battles with folks who review your fiction negatively, even if they are entirely wrong in their assessment. Authors never seem to come out ahead in these things.

    • OMG – I totally saw something like this on line where an author had taken exception to some slightly negative comments and it became massive. Hundreds of comments and all over Twitter – I couldn’t help feeling sorry for the author at the time and just wanted to say ‘please stop talking’. Anyway, it was too late.

      • Yeah, my wife said yesterday that she looks forward to my future blog post about my decision to even read reviews. I once responded to a “bleh” album review by posting a free album download link in the comments so that folks could decide for themselves. I felt very proud of myself and got exactly zero downloads from it. Guess I didn’t need to worry about the bloggers impact.

  3. From the little I’ve seen so far of the twitterverse of literary marketing, your rules are just right.

    The problem with hyping your work tooooo much is that people, as you say, like to think of you more as a human. A buddy. If you go all hard-sell online, all of a sudden you are *advertising* and people these days don’t have a lot of respect for that. They are still often swayed by it, but they start thinking about you in a different way. You are no longer real buddy material. They feel that they’ve been taken in by someone who just wants to sell them something.

    The trick is the balance you described in your rules. You’re a buddy who happens to write something now and then, and they’re interested in that level of news about it because they like you.

    Congratulations on the story, by the way. And best of luck. I will buy it.

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