…in which Kel tries not to be a bitch

I have a humble request for my fellow indie writers. I want to not be a bitch about it. I’m not sure it’s possible, so I’m just going to say it.

When we’re posting about our books, or our writing career, on a public forum, could we try to act as though there are people reading our words? People who buy books and tell their friends about them? Could we try to act as though there are self-publishing naysayers reading them, too? Because there are.

It’s natural, for example, to be excited about a positive review and to want to draw attention to it. It’s smart marketing, as well as affirming for fellow writers and our readers, when we share them. It’s also natural to be bummed out about a bad review. But when it comes to posting about that kind of thing on an open, public forum, we need to act like the professionals we claim to be. Let’s save the unrestrained excitement and impassioned disappointment  for private conversations. Because when any one of us posts something that is obnoxious or unprofessional it makes us all look that way, and too many of us have worked too hard for that. There are too many people out there who think of self-publishing writers as little kids who delight in stealing the crumbs from underneath the grown ups’ table at Thanksgiving. Let’s not act like it.


Thank you.


About R.J. Keller

R. J. Keller is the author of Waiting For Spring. An avid independent movie enthusiast, she was Managing Editor of The Movie Fanatic website and created episodes of the writer-centric YouTube series, Inside The Writers' Studio, with author Kristen Tsetsi. She co-hosted Book Chatter with Stacey Cochran from 2011-2014. She lives in Central Maine with her family, where she enjoys gardening, collecting geeky memorabilia, and watching other people cook. View all posts by R.J. Keller

13 responses to “…in which Kel tries not to be a bitch

  • Jim Thomsen


  • zoewinters

    My comment got too long, like longer than your post… so I made a post on my blog linking back to here. It’ll post on August 1st (I had other blogs in the queue before it.)

  • Erika Knudsen

    Very well put!! There is a fine line between being personable with fans and other writers and just saying what comes to mind. Everyone should learn how to self-edit before speaking/writing something down. But it does leave the nosey Nelly in me to wonder what you read to prompt this posting! lol 😉

  • R.J. Keller

    @Jim, W00T W00T!

    @Zoe, looking forward to it.

    @Erika, just accumulative irritation. lol

  • Karen Berner

    You bring up a good point. I cringe every time I see a thread somewhere in which a writer whines about a bad review. No good can come of that.

  • Little Kid Publishing: I’m a Big Kid Now! « Zoe Winters, Paranormal Romance Author

    […] Kid Publishing: I’m a Big Kid Now! August 1, 2010 by zoewinters So, R.J. Keller made a post that really struck me and I had a comment ready but then it got to long to the point that it was going to be longer than […]

  • TracyLucas

    (Found you through Zoe’s post, so I’m a little late to the discussion.)

    Good points; I agree with what you’ve said here. I’ve worked with many self-published and vanity press folks (and yes, I know the difference; I mean I’ve worked with both) and have seen the bad review part of your post in play. It’s ridiculous to throw a book out into the world–especially an unedited, barely cobbled together one, as some do–and not expect the world to offer back some reaction.

    I brighten up a little even at bad reviews. It means someone’s listening, and that’s the whole point.

    Curious, just because this is such a relative thing, but how do you define unprofessional behavior attached to a good review?

    In my book, the !!!!!1111exclamationonety-onety-oneoneone people should all be shot…

    But barring inanse assery like that which bothers everyone, what pushes self-congratulatory behavior too far in your book? When does it cross that line?

  • R.J. Keller

    Hi Tracy! Thanks for stopping by. That’s a great question. In spite of my semi-obnoxious post, I’m not looking to set up a set of hard and fast rules for indie authors. And highlighting postive reviews is a good way to promote our novels. What I was thinking about as I wrote this post was the “!!!!!1111exclamationonety-onety-oneoneone” kind of stuff. It makes me cringe.

  • Joe Glasgow

    “Life is full of disappointments. You’d know this if you’re married.”

    I agree with what you say, R.J. And if one Indie writer “bitches about,” it can make all look bad. So it’s best to keep a cool head and a steady hand.

    I don’t mind comments/reviews, whether good or bad. With the bad ones, I look at what’s said and if I agree with what’s said, I’m willing to change something a bit. If I don’t agree, I’ll keep on doing what I do. With the good, I find it hard to accept the compliments because I haven’t a clue how to really respond to them. But, I like to hear what people say, whether good or bad.

  • Avery

    Yes, please. I would like to see some of the assumed familiarity and casualness of the past fifty or so years ebb a bit. A touch of restraint, dignity, and professional formality has never hurt anyone’s career (or profession as a whole) the way these juvenile, self-involved meltdowns have. Maybe we can air drop copies of Emily Post all over indie authors’ lawns?

  • Christopher Meeks

    Kel, I’ve never understood bringing up a bad review as it’s only calling attention to something that may not deserve attention. I’m sure Tobias Wolff has had reviews he disagreed with. However, he later wrote the brilliant “Bullet in the Brain” in which a critic gets a bullet in his brain–and it becomes a touching, lyrical story.

    In this Facebook and Kindleboards age, I had a hard time getting personal. After all, I didn’t see John Irving or Margaret Atwood talking about the slice of key lime pie they just ate or, to take your example, a row of exclamation points for a good review. (By the way, I limit my English students to one exclamation point per paper; any more than that has to be justified.

    Your Kindleboards page, by the way, showed me the way to be both personal and humble. Humble goes a long way.

  • Mac

    Already told you what I think! But wanted to say “hi” here too!

  • R.J. Keller

    Chris, I truly appreciate that. I will say that it’s pretty easy to be humble when you spend your nights wearing a nametag, selling cigarettes and Slush Puppies.

    Seriously, I think it boils down to this: we should take our work seriously, but not ourselves.

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