Jun 21 2011
1. The cardinal rule of professionalism: Don’t do anything in private that would embarrass you if it became public.
2. Dishonesty ruins careers. If you’ve done any of the following, I would recommend stopping immediately.
- Don’t use a fake name (sockpuppet) to hype your work.
- Don’t write fake Amazon or B&N reviews without mentioning that bit about being the author. Likewise, asking and/or paying others for 5-star reviews is shady.
- Don’t plagiarize.
- Don’t deceive or otherwise mistreat your teammates (editors, comic book artists, etc).
- Don’t create or unilaterally edit your Wikipedia page. (Yes, they can find out). If there is a factual error on your Wikipedia page, propose a change in the Discussion section and be upfront about who you are. If nobody objects to your proposed change, then you can safely make the change even though you have a conflict of interest. For more details, please see Wikipedia’s guidelines for users with a conflict of interest. PS: Making enemies over at Wikipedia is REALLY bad business. Almost as much as the US Air Force or Google, they can really give you a bad day.
3. Anger and rudeness are almost always unhelpful.
- A rude response to a negative review is MUCH more dangerous to your career than the review ever was. For more advice about how to take criticism well, please see this. PS: Don’t worry too much about negative reviews. There are several reasons a negative review might lead a reader to buy the book. For example, “This reviewer didn’t like it, but it sounds like the sort of book I would enjoy,” “After I heard about the book, I checked for other reviews and they generally sound pretty positive,” “Now I want to see if it really is that bad,” etc.
- Please don’t publicly rant about the publishing industry. Most professional publishers do cursory Google searches on prospective authors before offering a publishing contract and it would be potentially problematic if your blog had several posts angry about the publishing industry. That’d suggest you would be harder to work with. (You wouldn’t apply to Ford or Toyota with a paper trail indicating that you were surly about car companies, would you?)
- Be as polite as possible in your personal dealings. When a publisher Googles you, what will they find? If they find a news article about getting thrown off a plane for disorderly conduct, that would be (pardon my French) le bad. PS: If you DO get thrown off a plane for disorderly conduct, please don’t try to use the 9/11 attacks to make yourself look more sympathetic.
- Don’t threaten a lawsuit unless you know what you’re talking about. In most cases, threatening a lawsuit against a reviewer is ill-advised. “Your negative review used quotes from my book in an unauthorized manner.” Fair use, chief. I’d recommend consulting with a lawyer before escalating a situation with legal threats. (If a reviewer publicizes that you’re incompetently trying to browbeat them, it could damage your reputation).