I came across an astonishing outburst on Facebook the other day. OK, so this is Facebook, where astonishing outbursts are two a penny, but this one took my breath away.
In scrolling down my wall, I noticed a post in capitals. [Now, I used to write all my email subject lines in capitals, which I thought gave them emphasis, until a business colleague pointed out I was considered to be shouting, so I stopped.] This post was one of three from an author [whom I’m not going to name] informing her followers that unless they not only read her blog posts, but commented on them, she was going to unfriend them. She’d had it with ‘hangers-on’ and they could ‘take a hike’!
As a writer myself, I know where she’s coming from and can understand her frustration. I’ve written blog posts that have included questions at the end; I’ve sat waiting for responses to flood in (although even a trickle would be nice); I’ve wondered if the deafening silence means people hate what I’ve written, or just aren’t interested enough to respond, or haven’t actually found me in the crowded blogosphere.
But as a business woman I was horrified. Writers rely on readers and potential readers not only for primary sales, but unbiased book reviews, recommendations and repeat sales. John Wanamaker, one of the early proponents of marketing is believed to have been the originator of the phrase: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” The same can be said of any marketing or promotional activities. We just don’t know how effective anything we do really is. But I think it’s a safe bet that telling people to go away if they’re not reacting the way we want them to is NOT a good promotional tactic.
I was also shocked by the rudeness of the messages. I do not know this author personally and do not solicit links with unknown people; therefore the only way I could have ended up on her list is through responding to a request from her. So, she invited me into her world in the first place. Now she was threatening to expel me because I didn’t behave exactly as she required. Result? I posted a polite message pointing out why I thought her approach was wrong — and left.
Writers write for many reasons: for ourselves, for family, for other people, for fame, for fortune [good luck with that one!] but often, just because we have to; the words won’t stay in our heads any longer.
No-one has the right to demand anything of readers. So while I hope lots of people read this post and it would be nice if some of you leave a comment afterwards, I promise I won’t shout at you if you don’t!
Elizabeth Ducie was a successful international manufacturing consultant, when she decided to give it all up and start telling lies for a living instead.
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