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10 commandments

Photo found on telegraph.co.uk

Anne R. Allen has published a great list with The 10 Commandments of Social Media Etiquette for Writers on her blog. Here’s a brief summary: If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it.

Not enough?  Alright then, here are her ten tips for online behavior for people planning a writing career, summarized for your convenience:

1) Thou shalt not spam.

What is spam?  Here’s the short version: if you’d ignore it in your own inbox, FB page, or Twitter stream, it’s probably spam.

2) Thou shalt support other authors.

Your fellow authors are not “rivals”. The number one thing a beginner should be doing on social media is getting to know other authors in your genre and subgenre and making friends.

One of the hottest sales tools in the business right now is the multi-author bargain boxed set with several titles by different authors. These boxed sets are getting on to the bestseller lists and raising visibility for all the authors. Yes. The NYT and USA Today Bestseller lists. Another is the joint 99c sale.

3) Thou shalt practice tolerance.

Remember that tolerance isn’t just about religion, ethnicity, or politics. Saying rude things to writers who choose a different publishing path from yours is just as ridiculous. Want to prove your path is better? Go write a bestseller, and stop wasting time being snarky on the Interwebz.

4) Thou shalt not whine about the stupidity of the reading public, your lack of sales, or the unfairness of the industry.

If you constantly go on about how stupid romance/paranormal/fantasy/chick lit readers are, or how ebooks are the worst thing that ever happened to civilization, be aware you’re alienating a huge segment of your potential audience. This includes detailing rejection woes.

5) Thou shalt remember: “On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog”.

That quote is from the 1993 New Yorker cartoon by Peter Steiner, the most reproduced cartoon in the magazine’s history. It became iconic because it speaks the basic truth of Internet culture: you never know who you’re actually interacting with. This can lead to lots of embarrassing faux pas and unpleasant encounters, especially since superstars and/or newbies can show up commenting on a blog thread along with the regulars.

6) Thou shalt not respond to reviews.

No matter how unfair. Just. Keep. Quiet. You can’t please all the people all of the time. And yes, we even have to put up with the sadistic trolls who call themselves “reviewers” but don’t read anything they “review”.

The best way to fight troll reviews? Write an honest review yourself! Big-name authors get troll reviews even more than indies and newbies these days, so even somebody famous can be helped by your review. Go write one for your favorite book right now!

Most reviewers are hardworking, helpful people who genuinely love books. (And reading books takes time!) We can’t survive without them. Don’t confuse the sock puppet trolls with real reviewers.

7) Thou shalt not badmouth beloved authors.

When you diss Stephen King or J.K. Rowling or Suzanne Collins online, you are alienating a huge percentage of your potential readership. These authors are successful because lots of people love their work. When you call these people bad writers, you’re criticizing the taste of all their fans. They won’t reward you for it.

8) Thou shalt check facts before you share.

If something going viral on social media is so outrageous your emotions get triggered, take a deep breath and go to Snopes.com and check news sources. 99% of the time it didn’t happen or it’s been twisted to make you react.

And no, Bill Gates is not going to give a charity a billion dollars if you “like” some picture of a dying child or an abused puppy. That child and puppy have been gone for 20 years and you cause pain every time you share those pictures.

9) Thou shalt not feed trolls.

Trolls are part of Internet life. Why are there trolls? A new Canadian study finds that trolls are “everyday sadists” who get pleasure from other people’s pain. They’re the people who like to torture kittens and abuse small children. Trolldom is less work than going the serial killer route. It’s also equal-opportunity: the report found as many female trolls as males.

But remember that trolls feed on attention the way black flies feed on blood. So the only way to get rid of a troll is to give it no attention whatsoever—no matter how obnoxious and wrong he/she/it is, because your attention—good or bad—is its food. You must starve it by ignoring anything and everything it does.

Don’t think of a troll comment or “review” as an exchange with a fellow human capable of rational thought. Think of it as a pile of poo you don’t want to step in.

10) Thou shalt follow Wil Wheaton’s Law.

Actor Wil Wheaton first coined the dictum, “Don’t be a d**k” at a gaming conference in 2007. He was talking about interactive online game etiquette, but it is a good rule for anybody using the Internet.

In fact, it’s a good rule for anybody participating in life itself.

In more polite terms, it can be called The Golden Rule: have empathy and don’t do stuff to other people that would feel bad if it were done to you.

Read the full, excellent post on Anne R. Allen‘s blog!