Thin-skinned Writer’s Log: the wilds of Twitter

Does any of the following sound familiar?

You’ve just bought an e-book from someone whose blog posts you’ve read enough of to make you pretty sure his e-book is worth the money.

And then you tweet that author/blogger with a message, saying you just bought his book, and you can’t wait to read it.

A day passes with no response. You think, “No biggie. He’s a busy author/blogger. He’ll get around to it.”

A week passes without the most meager possible response from the author (not so much as a “like” of your gushing tweet).

So, maybe you think, “Okay . . . so he’s really busy. And maybe he doesn’t get to check his Twitter notifications very often. Or maybe he got side-tracked and missed mine. Or he was going to respond but forgot. It’s possible.”

It is. It happens.

So, you make another attempt. Maybe you’ve read at least part of the e-book and have been enjoying it, so you tweet him again, saying, “I’ve been loving your new e-book, <title>!…”

And you wait again. For another week.

<crickets>

And maybe you just shrug your shoulders and let it go. Maybe it doesn’t matter to you. Maybe you’ve convinced yourself that you shouldn’t have expected a reply from someone with so many followers, because they’re probably way too busy to respond to tweets from anyone but his familiars — family, friends, and those with the potential to make him more money (a lot more than the price of one e-book).

Because, hey, maybe when you’ve got that many followers, you might find yourself so overwhelmed with tweets from fans that some will slip through the cracks. You hope it doesn’t happen, but once you become an internet celebrity, there’s only so much time in the day to respond to your tens of thousands of fans.

But over time – if you’re anything like me – you might find your eyes narrowing a bit whenever you think of that author (the one who never responded). And maybe you’ll even find yourself muttering uncomplimentary things under your breath. Or even growling (John Casey style. Chuck fans, you know what I mean).

Because, yeah, it bugs you.

How long does it take, after all, to click on that little heart at the bottom of a tweet. Half a sec, maybe?

But then you think, “what if he never saw it? What if someone else handles his notifications and just doesn’t do the personal stuff. Or there are just so many fan tweets and not enough time in the day to respond to all of them.”

Or maybe you’re all zen about it, thinking, “It’s cool. I don’t need the validation of a smiley face or “like” from some guy I don’t even know, even if I have enjoyed reading his e-book.”

And on some level, at least, that makes sense to me. I don’t think anyone — thin-skinned or not — should allow herself to be dragged down mentally or emotionally because someone she doesn’t even know hasn’t responded to her carefully-worded thank-you-for-your-awesome-writing tweet.

You can be thin-skinned without being dominated by what other people think.

It’s okay to feel slighted, though. It’s okay to think, “Y’know, it does bug me. And I don’t ever want to make any of my readers feel the way this author’s failure to respond makes me feel right now.

“But enough. I’ve ranted. I’ve allowed myself to be irritated by his seeming indifference to the fact that I spent money on his e-book and took the time to tell him that I’m enjoying it.

“And I’m deciding RIGHT NOW that I will not treat any of my readers like that. I will respond to each and every one, so none of them feel dismissed by me. None of them will feel as though I just didn’t consider it worth my time to respond to them.”

I think that’s reasonable.

Allow yourself to be annoyed — to acknowledge that you feel slighted, dismissed, passed over. It’s okay to admit this. It allows you to put yourself into the shoes of those who will someday read your books. How will you want to make them feel?

Then take the good out of it — your own resolution to not treat your own readers that way.

(Because there ARE successful authors out there who take the time to respond – even if all they tweet back is “Thanks! :).” After being ignored by several others, this feels huge. And it tells me that it IS possible for an author with tens of thousands of fans to acknowledge each and every one of them).

And then . . . let it go. Deprive it of its power over you, learn from it, and move on.

No one’s dismissive behavior deserves more than this.

We can’t control how other people will treat us – in word or in action. But we can control how we deal with it.

I had kind of a stressful day at work today. We’re one person short, and it was one of those days when it felt like I was either doing something wrong or not doing the right thing fast enough. And there were some tense moments (times when I hate the sound of my voice when I talk, because I can hear the edge. You know the edge, right?).

Cash registers ….!!!

By the end of my shift, I was frustrated and exhausted. My coworkers looked tired, too. And I was thinking, as I drove out of the parking lot, that it makes no sense to pray that tomorrow will be less stressful, because it probably won’t be (though I won’t mind if it is).

I prayed that whatever tomorrow – and the rest of today – dishes out, that I’ll handle it better. That I won’t dwell on the moments that make me feel like the slowest (physically and mentally) member of the crew.

That I’ll just keep shaking off the dirt (or whatever. Choose your own debris) that keeps landing on my head and focus on being unstoppable.

Because if I keep letting it get to me, I’ll eventually grab one of the students by his collar the next time he repeats his name super-slowly-so-the-retarded-lady-behind-the-register-(that’s me)-can-understand – and give him an earful that will make his brain melt and leak out the other ear.

And then I’ll get fired. Because I’ll deserve it. And I really don’t want that to happen.

“An object in motion tends to stay in motion,” I told myself (no idea why) in the dish room. “Just keep at it.”

I can be thin-skinned and still get shit done. So can you.

(Whew! I feel better. Do you feel better? I’d still like a beer, but I’m definitely recovering.)

 

 

 

 

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6 thoughts on “Thin-skinned Writer’s Log: the wilds of Twitter

  1. Hey Sarah, hope you’ve been well.

    Six months ago, I had just finished reading the Warded Man series. I really loved the story telling and world building. The author, Peter V. Brett, is pretty established. He’s traditionally published. I tweeted to him, and he RETWEETED ME!!! It was the coolest thing ever.

    I think twitter enables a connection between writer/author that wasn’t available before. And I think not using it is silly!

    Anyways, great post as always. Hope you have better days at work, Sarah.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Kevin!
      I love being able to just send a quick message to the authors of books I’ve enjoyed, just to let them know I enjoyed them, and also to share the news with my own followers. It’s always a boost when an author replies in some way, and I love it when an author retweets my comment. I don’t like to share the names of the authors who don’t respond in any way, but I’m happy to share the names of those who do–just as you did. 🙂 They deserve that extra bit of good publicity.

      Most days at work go well. That particular day had a few rough patches, but it wasn’t too bad, really. I was just glad to get home. One of my co-workers is recovering from surgery, and the school district is short on substitute kitchen helpers. Some of the students (being kids) are a little less than understanding when they’re made to wait for a minute or so longer. One kid actually held an apple up to me and asked if someone could cut it up for him. I smiled and said we didn’t do that, and he raised his eyebrows and said mockingly, “Food service?” I said, “Y-yes. But that’s not one of the (many) things we do.” He rolled his eyes and left with his tray, and I shook it off and smiled for the next kid. Wow, though. Just…wow. And to think some people never grow out of that, either. But some do.
      I would agree that authors who don’t take advantage of the ability to connect with their readers through Twitter are wasting an opportunity. It makes it all the sadder when I run across an author’s Twitter timeline chock full of ads promoting their books and no sign of their making connections with real people on Twitter. And there are so many like that. Yet, somehow, they manage to have tens of thousands (or more) of followers. But why bother following someone who’s presence on Twitter is all about screaming “Buy my book! Like my FB page! Follow my blog!” Is there a secret society for authors that brainwashes them into thinking this is a good idea? I have to wonder.
      Thank you again for your fun and thoughtful comment! Have a great week — and weekend (hard to believe tomorrow is Friday already, not that I’m complaining). 🙂

      Like

  2. I’m sorry you had a terrible day at work. Most of my weekends are like that due to the people I work with 🙂 I agree completely! If I pay for a book, read it and love it enough to send the author a message saying that I loved the book (and maybe even thank them for writing it) then I don’t think pressing that little heart button is too bothersome a response. I know I’ll be over the moon every time someone posts a positive update about me and my book. I might need a moment to stop grinning, but I will reply. I can’t see why I wouldn’t, I just hope someone will love my book enough to do this in the first place!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Today went much more smoothly, which was an unexpected but welcome surprise. Every day has its surprises; some are just more enjoyable than others. 😉 I hope we both get plenty of opportunities to show appreciation to readers who take the time to share their love for our books! Part of the reason why I tweet about books I’ve enjoyed is to let the authors know I enjoyed their books, since I’d want to know. The other part is to get the word out so more people will get the chance to read those books and (hopefully) enjoy them as much as I did. I’ll be thrilled, too, when I see the first bit of glowing reader feedback — either as an Amazon review or as a tweet. Thanks so much, Sarina, for taking the time to read and comment! Have a great rest of your week!! 🙂

      Like

  3. That was an interesting post from a different perspective to mine. I’m still chewing it over. I guess I’m surprised because I read for me, not to help the author, so an author seeming “ungrateful” wouldn’t stop me downloading more of their books if I enjoyed their writing. Likewise if I tweet about a book it’s to help other readers find something they’ll enjoy, not to help promote the author’s work (though of course it has that effect). So I’d neither expect or really care about appreciation from the author.

    As a writer I’d be thrilled to see someone tweeting about my book and I would acknowledge it. I don’t think I’d retweet or labour the point because I hate it when authors’ feeds are full of self-promotion.

    Yeah, I see both sides of this. Thought-provoking post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for adding your perspective, Anna. I know I’ve hesitated to buy another book by a particular author after I felt that she’d ignored a few attempts of mine to connect with her on Twitter (though she responded to similar attempts by others), but since I don’t know exactly why I never got a response from her, I still hold onto some hope that it wasn’t intentional. I’ve bought a few books from her before and may buy from her again. Unless someone is openly insulting (rather than giving the appearance of being subtly dismissive), there’s always the possibility that he would have responded, if my timing had been better or if circumstances had worked in my favor. Who knows, really?

      I tweet about books I’ve enjoyed partly for the author’s benefit (since I’d love it, if I were the author) and partly to spread the word about those books, so that others will read and (I hope) enjoy them as much as I did. It’s always gratifying when authors makes even a minimal response to show their appreciation for tweets. If they don’t, I never know, really, whether it’s because they honestly don’t have the time, or because they don’t care. I would agree that it’s best to give them the benefit of the doubt.

      Those that do respond, though, stand out for me. And many have just as many followers (if not more) than the authors who failed to respond. But everyone has their own daily commitments, and I don’t want my over-sensitivity to get in the way of buying a book that I’d sincerely enjoy or that would help make me a better writer.
      While I would argue that sensitivity is a valuable trait in a writer — as in a reader — I know well enough that my own over-sensitivity can make life harder than it has to be. And if I want to write for a living, I need to balance that sensitivity with wisdom. Still working on that.
      Thanks again for your comment, and have a great rest of the week! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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