So you've decided to end your career as an author. You've come to the conclusion that writing isn't for you, and by golly you are going to let everyone know how angry you are at the industry. People will rue the day you walked away, oh yes they will!
If you're going to burn your bridges, you might as well do it in style, so here's my favorite top five ways authors have burnt bridges, left the business, and flipped the tables in anger...
1. Going After The Reviewer
A classic bridge burner that peaked in 2013, this move involves the author breaking the cardinal rule of NOT READING REVIEWS. True, we all break it. There isn't an author alive who can resist the siren song of peeking at reviews, just to see. The danger here lies in confronting the reviewer. Especially if you're an Indie author. Self-pubbed authors already have two strikes against them; they have no publisher backing them and they have a whole Amazon cart full of prejudice against their writing. So a self-published author has to be on their utmost best behavior.
But every month you'll see an author, traditionally published or otherwise, run screaming after a reviewer. Everyone watches the train wreck. Reviewers and publishers blacklist the author. People step away. And the bridge is burnt.
2. Going After Famous Authors
I'm not going to link to any one instance here, but you know the ones I'm talking about. The authors that get up on their public soapbox and claim the reason they don't have great sales is because some other fancy-pants author stole their thunder. Sometimes the bridge burner blames Snooki, sometimes JK Rowling takes the blame, whoever the bridge burner goes after, it's their career that suffers.
Authors can't complain about other authors without the complaint sounding like sour grapes. Book sales are not a zero sum game, and if an author can't figure that out, it's probably best they've burnt their bridge and moved on.
3. Dramatically Claim You'll Never Publish Your Book Because of [fill in the blank]
This one goes hand in hand with...
4. Dramatically Claim You'll Self-Publish Because Traditional Publishing Is Of The Devil
Either way you slice it, these bridge burners are desperate cries for attention. Much like the person who gets on Twitter or Facebook to tell everyone they're leaving, and then comes back to see who will talk them into leaving. Honestly, some authors have gotten away with this publicity stunt without seeing their careers consumed by ash. But it gets real old real fast and readers don't like to be toyed with.
If you want to soothe your ego, find another way to do it. No one cares if you don't publish that book. No agent or editor is going to cry hot tears of sorrow because you self-publish. This is a business, treat it like one.
5. Insult Your Readers
This one was new for me when I encountered it in mid-January. As a general rule, authors love their fans. We all think we have the best fans in the world. We all swear our readers have the best taste in the world (you really do!).
In the January case, a literary author turned crime novelist stated in an interview that decided any monkey could write crime fiction and it wouldn't matter how bad it was, mystery readers would eat it up. After all, crime fiction is low fiction, not majestic and grandiose as True Literature.
It was painful to read.
It was insulting.
Never insult your readers. Never. Never. NEVER.
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