When You’re Caught in Author Drama: 3 Steps for Extracting Yourself

Monsoon rains in New Mexico bring green green green!

Our topic at the SFF Seven this week concerns Author Drama. We’re asking specifically if we think it’s idiocy or a PR campaign.

So far the opinions this week have run to proclaiming it unwise at best and idiocy at the baseline. I don’t disagree. I’m not much for drama in any aspect of my life, so I go to lengths to avoid it. Those of you who’ve followed me for a long time know I’m all about balance, that – as a practicing Taoist – I’m forever seeking the middle path and a place of equanimity.

That said, sometimes the drama finds you.

As with all of life, we are walking a fine line with author promotion. We put our books out there, and we put our SELVES out there, because the author is the brand that readers follow. When we post photos of our lives, our likes, our pithy observations, and so forth, we are doing it because we WANT attention, right? If nothing else, we’ve been trained by social media to court those clicks and likes and followers, in the hopes that they translate to book sales and readers.

But we only want positive attention! you might say. Well, yes. Still, there’s always the chance that a bid for attention can go too far and tip over into negative attention. These things aren’t always controllable. When I see the latest kerfuffle and readers lining up on sides, it’s easy for me to sit back and feel smug that they’re not yelling about ME. I also have to be honest about myself and realize that they’re not talking about me either. It’s easy to declaim drama when you’re not noticed at all.

What’ most important to remember is: most authors who find themselves mid-drama did not intend to incite that level of reaction. What’s happened is they handled it badly. They don’t have the professionalism, the emotional maturity, the support network, the sheer ability to control themselves, to back away.

That’s what it takes. The common wisdom holds, should you find yourself propelled into drama:

1) Step away

No matter what anyone says, you are not required to respond immediately. It’s almost always better if you don’t  respond until things have cooled. This includes not looking at what people are saying.

2) Apologize

Don’t entrench. Don’t argue. Don’t try to convince everyone that you really are a Good Person™. If you don’t know how to craft a good apology (which admits being wrong, makes no excuses, and includes real resolve to change), get help with it.

3) Don’t fan the flames

Resist the urge to respond further. Stick to your statement and apology. Don’t succumb to the lure of attention by stoking it just a little more. Actually do the work to correct what you did to upset people.

What happens with some Author Drama cases is that the person in question becomes so enticed by the attention that it all feels good. In extreme cases, it becomes their brand. It’s a choice, but not always one that serves the books and the storytelling.

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