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February 20th, 2009
The Author Persona

Barbara Vey at Publishers Weekly has a recent post about authors, actors and the like called Does It Matter If They’re Nice? while Samhain editor Tera Kleinfelter has a post about professionalism.

We all know how to behave in public or online, or we should. Writing is our job or business and as a writer we need to promote ourselves in a positive light. We’re all human and sometimes, the smile might slip. Sometimes we have a bad day.

I have a confession. I’m a fairly easy going person, but there are a couple of authors whose books I would never purchase or read because they made a really bad impression on me when I met them. Quite frankly, they were rude. I’ve heard others make the same comment about authors, actors and singers.

If an author is rude to you at a conference or booksigning, or they behave badly online, does this create a bad impression with you or do you give them the benefit of doubt and give them a second chance? Does rudeness stop you buying their book, music or watching their movies?

20 comments to “The Author Persona”

  1. Rudeness would stop me in a hearbeat.

  2. Oh, gosh, yes! I’ve also written off people who go nutty with politics. People like that tend to layer their “agenda” into their writing, and I don’t need a lecture veiled within the story.

    I don’t get offended easily, so if they cross the threshold with me, they’re history.

    ON THE OTHER HAND….I will go out of my way to buy books from people who are kind and friendly.

    I met A. Lee Martinez at a con. He was so upbeat and helpful to new authors, offering his experience freely. We talked a bit after his panel session and he gave me one of his books to try. I was so touched, I immediately went out and bought his other two books.

    Good will goes a long way.

  3. Yep, Rudeness will stop me.

    I have no interest in supporting someone is rude and nasty to others. I also am not impressed with the authors who think they are so better than me.

    I try to read their stuff, but in the back of my mind I remember their personality and I can’t.

    There are some days I want to let the smile slip, but I don’t do it online. It’s best not to get involved. I still haven’t introduced myself to a certain online authors loop since that “incident” last year.

  4. This is a great question! :grin:

    If an author is rude to me in person, online, via e-mail, or whatever… well, I’m afraid that author will NOT be getting my business.


  5. Artistic/creative people usually have volatile temperaments, because they tend to suffer from depression more than people who aren’t creative. I think it’s because real life can never measure up to the fantasies we imagine, so we’re perpetually disappointed with it.
    That being said, I usually stay off of forums or refrain from blogging when I’m in one of my dark moods. I’ve only been involved in an online dispute once and that was when I jumped to the defense of a friend who was being attacked. I learned my lesson. Romance writers can be vicious. :mrgreen: I’ve been meek and mild ever since.
    Fortunately, for all of us, the vast majority of readers will never see our online behavior.

  6. Uhh, yeah. Absolutely.

    When I launched Win a Book, it was with the intent of helping authors get their names out to a reading public. That was all.

    I heard from a number of authors — and not nicely, either — and a few group review blog sites that they did NOT want to be involved because of the problem with the people who would come around only to enter contests.

    I was shocked. Not that they existed; I have a good friend who is the merchandise manager of a major rock band. I know that these people are out there, and I know a lot of them do a booming eBay business.

    Rather, I was shocked that these authors and bloggers would be so rude to me for offering to help get them publicity. “My gives are for my readers only,” someone said.

    That’s all fine and good, but how are you going to find new readers if you don’t open your doors to them? I know I’ve discovered a number of new authors by reading blog posts they’ve written and entering contests for their books. (and winning those contests, too, I might add.)

    So, yeah. A number of those authors are on my private NO list. I’m not judging them for saying no to free publicity. I’m judging them for not being terribly nice about it.

    On the flip side, I’ve seen authors doing what I’d consider to be bad behavior. Yet when I spoke to them later, I found them to be lovely. So… I guess it comes down to personal interactions, at least where I’m concerned.

  7. Rudeness has stopped me, definitely, from purchasing their books. With the exception of one author. This author can be rather snotty and rude but I can’t stop buying the books! The author is that good. Sigh.

  8. I certainly agree with most here– a rude person in any business is bad. But I think writers need to be extra nice to their public. After all, who supports them? Yes, I have a problem with bad behavior from writers and probably won’t buy their books. But I have also found so many writers that are wonderful too.

  9. Okay here’s a question who could be mean to Susan??? Seriously?

    I will say I have met more NICE than I have bad. :)

  10. Great question Shelley!

    I’m not quick to judge. One offense wouldn’t necessarily do it. I’m more likely to give someone the benefit of the doubt (that they don’t realize how they’re coming across or it’s a bad day), but that kind of thing does “stick” with me. And since I don’t go “looking for the dirt”, when it comes to my attention, it stands out.

    So absolutely yes for me. There are authors I will not buy under any circumstances because of their behavior on-line.

    There are two categories of these: The first is those whose egos seem totally out of control. Usually encountered on yahoo-lists. The second are those who bad mouth others and/or seem to take a personal delight in trying to spread rumors about EC. Yes, everyone’s entitled to their opinion and I have no problem with someone expressing it, even one I strongly disagree with, as long as it’s done in a thoughtful, courteous manner.

    I can’t say I’ve encountered a lot of rudeness, though it probably would fall under the ego-situation, but if I did, that’d keep me from supporting an author’s career, too.

  11. I agree – rudeness turns me off and I’d most likely stay away. :cool:

  12. Personally I can’t stand rude people if they weren’t provoked first. Their is never an excuse for taking out your feelings on someone who is innocent. That being said we all make slip ups but someone who makes their living off of other people’s choice to like them (entertainers) should be aware their relations with people have a bigger effect.
    There’s a certain actor that was very rude to me once for no reason I could fathom, who I still try my best to avoid his movies. Sadly he’s a good, versatile and popular actor so on occasion it’s difficult but I try. Conversely if you’re nice to me I’ll go out of my way and stalk you, your blog, buy all your books, bug you to write faster, etc. Basically support you wholeheartedly and loyally. (Speaking of which is it the 27th yet? Need book!)
    Much love!

  13. I have to say I’ve met more nice authors than not, thankfully. But you’re write. Nice matters, even when we sometimes don’t feel like it. Nice is professionalism.

  14. Yes, definitely authors with an over abundant ego as well. I’m come across a few people who fit this category as well. They’re very likely to put me off their books.

    Amy W – LOL – you can stalk me any time. :mrgreen: Not long to wait now – about 7 sleeps…

    Susan – I have to say that I’ve met some lovely authors both online and in person. When a person leave a good impression I’m very likely to search out their books.

    And like Amy R, I can’t believe someone would be mean to you!!

  15. I don’t buy some authors because of their political statements, because I think their books will have an agenda, even if they try not to.

    I’ve not met many authors in person and not a rude one sor far. I’m not sure how I would react re. buying their books.

    Maybe the romance community has a few more rudes and online jerks. I don’t read much in that genre and I don’t read many romance writer blogs, either, but I could not escapewitnessing several kerfuffles or at least links to those. I haven’t encountered that many in Fantasy and Historical Fiction. You’re a passionate bunch. :wink:

    Aside from the political ones, there is one guy whose books I will never read because of his patronising blog, and that blog is even popular. *sigh*

  16. I do think that rudeness or insane behavior either online or in person would be a major turn-off. I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting any authors in person yet, but most of the ones I’ve had contact with online have been fabulous. Of course, that goes a long way into transforming me into a rabid fan ;)

  17. For me, it depends whether I know they are having issues in their personal life or if being an as*hat is their standing operating procedure. :lol:

    I am always willing to give folks a second chance or even a third, once I learn that they are going through a difficult patch or a crisis.

    I’d like to think that most people treat others the way they would like to be treated. After all, life is far too fleeting to spend it spreading hate and not love. I mean, that is why we chose romance as our genre, right? Spreading love and a touch of passion. Some of us spread more than a touch, eh? :wink:

    Of course, is they are just your basic snooty, nasty, rude as*hat—well then, I won’t be a customer!

    BTW, congrats on the upcoming release, Shel.
    Verra nice!

  18. ‘if’ they, not ‘is’ they… sheesh, I think I need another cup of coffee. :lol:

  19. Gabriele – I guess we are an emotional bunch, which brings drama to the fore!

    Fedora – I hope you get to meet some authors in person soon. 99% of those I’ve met have been wonderful. I still remember meeting Sherrilyn Kenyon for the first time. She is just lovely and I managed to stutter that I loved her books. I was terribly starstruck. That was a few years ago but I think I’d probably react the same way today.

    CC – that’s a good point. Sometimes personal things leak over into our writer persona. I think LK mentioned the same thing. Thanks so much. Not long until Leticia’s Lovers comes out now.

  20. Hi Shelley,
    I got sidetracked by this insightful post with its many answers. I agree about the rude part. If I’m reading an author who has been rude to me—or even someone I know—I tend to judge their writing very critically as I’m reading. I can’t get past the part of the author that is in the story—that is, the voice or one of the characters.

    At the same time, i try not to judge because everyone has their bad moments. It may so happen that I caught someone who’d just had some bad news, who may be suffering from a migraine, etc. I’m generally a very friendly person and I like people just because I do. But I know I may offend someone at one point or other for the simple reason that I can’t please everyone. However, there is no excuse not to have common courtesy, and to me that’s the root of professionalism.