Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Fair or unfair? You decide

For some time, I was a member of an online group of writers who talked writing, book promotion, self-publishing and anything related to the writing world. I participated in some of the discussions, bookmarked interesting blog posts and articles, and checked out books by some of the members in the group. All that changed on the day the group’s moderator sent out a message to all group members, which prompted me to not only leave the group but also delete all of this author’s emails from my email account.

The message that caused this change of heart?

The moderator outlined what could and could not happen in the group. Fair enough, except that I was puzzled over how she said that members of the group who are authors and freelance editors could not promote their books or services in any way. I could understand not allowing posts that screamed "CHECK OUT MY NEW BOOK!!!" or "BUY MY BOOK AND CHANGE YOUR LIFE RIGHT NOW!!" Of course, these kinds of posts are just … spam. They are not relevant discussions or thought-provoking insights on anything currently being discussed or part of current events. They’re just advertisements. And that’s uncool.

A savvy author knows there are certain ways of promoting their book (as well as editors promoting their services), and that’s perfectly acceptable. Including your book info in your signature is one such method, as is mentioning how a topic is covered in a chapter of your book.

But because this moderator said an author cannot promote their book or service "in any way," meaning those little methods are not allowed, it was a big turn-off. Reluctantly, I accepted this, thinking that if someone was interested in my post enough, they could click on my profile and see my books there. But then the moderator did something that really upset me: She sent out another message to the group, promoting her books, her site and her services.


I was so outraged by this that I left the group and deleted all of her messages from my email account. (Don’t worry; it’s not one of you authors out there I know, am acquainted with and adore). This was hard to do, given this particular author has a lot of credibility (which she now destroyed with me), has years of experience in book promotion and has a lot of good advice out there for writers and authors. Still, I couldn’t stand this act of hypocrisy. It was just unfair of her to say to all of us authors in her group “You can’t promote your book in any way at all in my group” then turn around and promote her books. That just wasn’t right.

Some people may think an author’s character should not be a factor in whether or not we associate with them, buy their books or promote their work. However, I don’t feel comfortable in supporting and promoting a fellow author who has questionable character and treats others unfairly. As it is, if an author I ask permission to quote in my work is rude or does not respond to my requests, I’ll pass on that author and look elsewhere. The same goes for a fellow author who is not fair to their readers or supporters. Like I say, if you don’t give the love, you don’t get it back. And I think members of an online group of writers need all the love they can get.

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