More now than ever, I enjoy interacting with others. I may be shy in some ways and might be the quiet one in the group, but that doesn't mean I'm not listening or paying attention. With social media, we can stay in touch longer and more often regardless of where we are in the world.
Should we act any different online than in person?
While looking into the opinions of others, be it political issues or comic books, I am astounded by the rudeness, ad nauseum, and straight up hate that is posted. Who goes up to a complete stranger on the street and talks to them like this? Thing is, most of these comments are made by aliases. This allows people the luxury to spout out their opinion in the safe confines of their homes without compromising their personal identity.
By all means, we need opinions - some are downright funny, but the rude ones, I can't take seriously.
How does this apply to us writers?
A while back I posted about Your Name Is Your Brand. Once we've established our brand, it's our job to carry it and let it be seen. Plenty have gone the route of pen names, but many writers imagine their own names on their covers. This places us in a unique situation for our time - striving for proper etiquette on and offline.
The one thing I see most often in the blogosphere is differing opinions on various writing topics and all that that implies (which I wholeheartedly embrace). The great thing about people is that we don't all agree. This leaves room for discussion. How we disagree, however, makes all the difference.
If we want to commit career suicide, we must be jerks. We must claim to have all the right answers. We must prove how great our books are to someone who gives us a negative review. We must use our blogs to rant about someone that we disagree with. We must show how omnipotent we are when we leave comments. We must expose the evils of our ex-agent/publisher to all. Etc.
(For good's sake, please don't do any of the above)
Here's how I see it: when it comes to opinion, there is no right answer. We might disagree with someone, but if it works for them, why are we bent out of shape about it? Bruised ego? Something we hold true to our heart isn't validated? Sometimes it's best to let people stick with their guns, let them believe in what works for them, or even let them make mistakes. It may not work for us, but we might find their opinion suits us better later on - and visa versa!
In short, avoid saying or doing anything that will compromise our brand. Be nice and mean it. We leave footprints with every post, tweet, and comment. It takes only one to sabotage our brand forever.
And to a further extent, us as people.
This is not the rule, just my thoughts on the matter. My stance is, as writers, we ought to be what is best for our brand (us). That means relaxing a little and not taking the offensive. We could smile and be genuine about it. If we come across as abrasive, quick to be disagreeable, or not have an open mind, will we sell any books?
Have you received comments/reviews that rubbed you the wrong way? How have you dealt with them?
I'm David, and we're going to "borrow" something ...