As an author, your primary job is to write the best book you possibly can. But talent and skill aren’t the only factors in a successful career. Rather than giving you a 10-step recipe for novelist success (because there really isn’t one), I’ve compiled a list of taboos to avoid at all cost. Don’t succumb to these pitfalls and your chances of “making it” will increase dramatically:
Top Ten Author Taboos
- Too Much Blatant Self-Promotion (BSB) – don’t use social media as your personal soap box or spam your newsletter list.
- Stale websites – make sure your books, bio, and contact info are all up to date.
- Pitching media through social media sites (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn) – always use the email address listed on their websites.
- Badgering reviewers or other media professionals – if a reviewer or producer asks for a book, that doesn’t guarantee a review. Send them the book, follow up in a few weeks to ensure it arrived, and then the ball is in their court. Don’t email persistently or corner them at a conference asking why they didn’t review it.
- Not maintaining a professional image – whether it’s at a conference or on your twitter feed, everything you say should be professional. Avoid criticizing other authors or industry professionals, using foul language, and anything else that will cast you in a negative light.
- Burning bridges – in the wake of the self-publishing craze, many authors are burning bridges between them and the publishing industry. No matter what route you choose, always maintain your relationships.
- Being a yes-man – although it’s difficult to say no to bloggers who want a guest post and librarians who want you to drive an hour and a half to speak to their group of 12. But be strong, manage your time, and know when to say no.
- Responding to critics – although it’s tempting to respond to those 1-star Amazon reviews or a nasty email from an unhappy reader, resist the temptation. If it helps to vent, draft the email or response, and send it to a friend or spouse instead.
- Not keeping an open mind – at conferences or events, don’t discount people who you think can’t help your career. You never know when the person you’re talking to has influence or may help you in the future.
- Taking your career for granted – a very small percentage of the population has the talent, drive, and luck necessary to become a published author. Don’t forget to count your blessings.
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