In fan circles, there’s been a bit of a meltdown of late. It’s basically summarised – with heavy sarcasm – here. The essential premise is that when authors jump in on fan discussions of their work, it’s a bit of a car crash. Which I’d probably agree with for the most part. Some random thoughts, or advice, in no particular order.
1) There was a time where I’d care more about these debates, but I’ve seen so much vitriol over the past year, and so many people get upset, that I’ve found it really isn’t worth getting involved with such discussions. I don’t mean to belittle any of it, of course, as it’s important to many people. I speak as a jaded old writer.
2) As an author, energy is better spent focussing on the books. That sounds like I’m a pompous arse, but what I really mean is – as an author, you’ll most likely end up in a cycle of despair and self-torment if you track discussions of your work online and it really isn’t worth it. I’ve profited greatly by not giving as much of a shit. Not to say I don’t care, but that it’s the easiest way to cope with it all.
3) I guess the problem is that authors are encouraged to get out into social media and interact with fans. “It sells books!” (Yeah, probably not that many, actually.) So I can see that for many authors there’s confusion, combined with a need for validation, and at worse it turns into a mini-meltdown.
4) There’s some issues over whether or not authors are fans, and can join in fan debates. I’ve not seen anything good come of this discussion yet.
5) When you’re an author, you’re not a fan when it comes to your own work, clearly. Given the sheer number of writers online – published, self-published and unpublished – you’d be forgiven in thinking you’re just part of the white noise. You are, of course. But when you jump in on a discussion, you’re not simply white noise, but a great big stinking elephant in the room.
7) Your presence may stifle debate, but I’m uncomfortable about people using terms like “freedom of speech” and “stifling debate”, as you start stratifying levels of suppression, which is ultimately silly.
6) No one comes out well from these online storms. That includes you.
6) People get pissed off by so much negativity. These things hang around for years, too. Twitter amplifies it all.
8) Go outside, read in a coffee shop, hang out in a bookshop. Try to remember why you love books in the first place.
9) Apologies to anyone who doesn’t care about these things.