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Authors Behaving Well

I had an author email me once that while she loved the blog, she wished that I would talk about the decency of authors. I admittedly have a bad habit of referring authors as one big collective, when they are as individual as a reader. Authors are good, bad, indifferent, gracious, embarrassing, petty, curmudgeony, and funny as hell, just like readers.

It’s easy to get derailed by negativity. It becomes a guilty pleasure at times. Even Google focuses on the negative. When I typed in authors behaving well, the search results were for authors behaving badly. In an effort to help Google obtain a more relevant search result, I provide my own list of Authors Behaving Well.

  1. Authors, like Charlene Teglia (Wild, Wild West, August), who keep me up late at night with their very good writing.
  2. Authors, like Kathryn Smith (Taken by the Night, November), who was grace in motion when I gave a negative review of one of her books. She still comments on the blog from time to time.
  3. Authors like HelenKay Dimon (Your Mouth Drives Me Crazy, July) and Alison Kent (The Perfect Stranger, April) are brave enough to review books for the benefit of the romance community while facing possible censure from their peers.
  4. Authors like Suzanne Brockmann (Force of Nature, August) is relentless in her support of the troops and encourages her fans and everyone that she knows to support them by sending them books, care packages and cards of thanks. No matter what you think of the war, these boys are doing a hero’s work just by serving.
  5. Brenda Novak’s (Dead Right, August) third annual Auction for Diabetes Research raised $141,700.00. Dozens of authors offered up free books, time and other goodies to raise money to research cures for diabetes.
  6. Linda Lael Miller (A Wanted Man, July) provides a scholarship for non traditional female students to help them earn a higher education.
  7. Authors like Jennifer Crusie (Unfortunate Miss Fortunes), Eloisa James (Desperate Duchesses), and Julia Quinn (The Secret Diaries of Miranda Cheever) tirelessly share their knowledge of writing, for free, with aspiring writers.
  8. Nora Roberts (High Noon, July) provides straight from the hip opinion. Love her or hate her, there is no subterfuge with her and she’s unafraid to join the fray.
  9. On July 11, 2007, RWA will host its 27th Annual Readers for Life Literacy Autographing where over 450 romance authors sign donated books to sell to readers. The proceeds of the sale go to literacy charities.

There is an interesting concept behind the “author” persona. First, of course, is the author as the creator of the work and myself as a consumer. Second, is the online persona of the author. The relationship that arises from the author/consumer relationship is completely different than one that can be created through participation in an online community. When I devised my list, I noticed that there was a mixing of the two. I don’t know that I can separate the two entities entirely which is why I think that authorial behavior can affect me both positively and negatively. Authors behaving well can encourage me to try their books when I wouldn’t have ordinarily done so. But qualitatively “good” authorial behavior can be as simplistic as meeting her obligations to readers by writing the best book possible. It seems that is the most important thing to me. When I wrote out my list, Charlene Teglia’s book was the first thing that popped into my head. Should we readers expect anything else but good writing?

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

33 Comments

  1. Nora Roberts
    Jul 03, 2007 @ 05:25:51

    What a nice column, and I’m flattered to be among the authors named. I think IF an author participates on-line or does personal appearances, a reader should expect a certain level of courtesy and reasonable behavior. If an author opts not to participate or interact in public, the book should be enough.

  2. Tara Marie
    Jul 03, 2007 @ 05:42:46

    Nice post, a reminder that good people do good deeds and never get the quantity of attention that people behaving badly get. Maybe it’s human nature to notice the bad over the good?

    Should we readers expect anything else but good writing?

    On some level, I think this is the case. I’d like to say I do this, but I hate admit bad behavior hasn’t stopped me from reading authors I already read, but has kept me from trying a few new to me authors.

  3. Aoife
    Jul 03, 2007 @ 06:10:23

    Should we expect anything else but good writing? No. However, if an author chooses to become an online presence, whether in the form of a website, blog, or posting on public MB’s, then that expectation changes substantially. The emphasis here is on the word “chooses.” An author is responsible for her (or his) public face, and, since writing is a business, needs to accept that what she puts out on the internet affects others perception of her and her work.

  4. Jackie
    Jul 03, 2007 @ 06:26:14

    An author is responsible for her (or his) public face, and, since writing is a business, needs to accept that what she puts out on the internet affects others perception of her and her work.

    Beautifully put, Aoife.

  5. Charlene Teglia
    Jul 03, 2007 @ 06:28:51

    What Nora said. And you’re in danger of getting hugged. I sweat bullets over making each story the best I can deliver, and there’s nothing better than hearing I’ve succeeded. Thank you for making my day!

  6. Jaci Burton
    Jul 03, 2007 @ 06:33:14

    Great column, Jane. It’s nice to see something positive written for a change. Much negativitiy bandied about lately. This is refreshing and timely. :-)

  7. Kerry Allen
    Jul 03, 2007 @ 06:44:53

    What Nora said about courtesy and reasonable behavior. I think we have expectations that all people should behave to certain standards, not just authors. If you walked into the corner store and witnessed the manager acting like an asshat, it would probably affect your decision to shop there in the future even if you’ve been a loyal customer for years.

    You don’t have to be Princess Nicey-Nice to behave well—simply making the effort not to behave badly when the temptation is overwhelming will suffice.

  8. Shiloh Walker
    Jul 03, 2007 @ 06:51:51

    I’ll go with the majority here. If the writer chooses to do the online thing, then she should carry herself online the same way she would at a booksigning and readers have every right to expect courtesy from her.

    If the author prefers not to put herself out there, then just the book.

  9. Ilona
    Jul 03, 2007 @ 07:33:25

    Great column!

  10. HelenKay
    Jul 03, 2007 @ 07:55:52

    It’s nice to be included on this list. Thank you!

    I agree with everyone else. You can have opinions and express them, just do it in a way that’s respectful (especially if you’re on someone’s blog other than your own). If you can’t do that then step away from the internet and concentrate on the writing only. Be courteous. Give back when you can. Always be grateful for what you have and be willing to put in the work to stay there. It’s your basic common sense kindergarten stuff.

  11. Chantal
    Jul 03, 2007 @ 08:03:19

    What a great post. You made me smile this am :)
    People do focus on the negative, and that gets really old. It’s nice to something nice.

  12. Ciar Cullen
    Jul 03, 2007 @ 08:15:39

    Great post, and I loved that you included Charlene for her writing. I’ll note that she’s also a generous supporter of other writers, sharing ideas and insight. I think if you have an online presence, your treatment of other writers is noticed as well.

  13. Kathryn S
    Jul 03, 2007 @ 08:53:30

    Wow! Look at that, I’m on your list! Cool. I agree with all the others here about being courteous and professional. It’s very easy to react that way when you can see that people are talking about your book, not *you*. I would like to think that all authors are capable of good writing. I would like to think that I’m a good writer — I know how to tell a story — but those stories might not be everyone’s cup a’tea. I think one thing authors need to remember is that reviewers read a lot of books and it’s easy to get frustrated when what used to be a pleasure becomes something of a job. Just my 2 cents.

  14. Keishon
    Jul 03, 2007 @ 08:57:59

    An author is responsible for her (or his) public face, and, since writing is a business, needs to accept that what she puts out on the internet affects others perception of her and her work.

    Completely agree with that statement.

  15. Alison Kent
    Jul 03, 2007 @ 09:03:56

    Aw, thanks Jane!

  16. Robin
    Jul 03, 2007 @ 09:48:53

    There are a number of authors whose books I don’t enjoy but whose online contributions (via comments, blogs, etc.) I do, and vice versa, so I very much agree that I have a different orientation to authors online than I do to their books. I think really that comes down to a difference between the Romance *community* (and/or *industry) and the Romance *genre*. I like that your column makes that distinction, too, because I do think readers — myself included — sometimes crush to the two together.

    Hopefully your column will remind all of us that if a reader doesn’t like a book it doesn’t by any means imply that we don’t appreciate or respect the author in other contexts (or by contrast that if we love a book that doesn’t mean we want the author to be our new BFF).

    Would I love it if every book I adored had an author-persona behind it that was equally cool? Hell, yes! But when it comes to reading, I don’t care one whit about the author-persona — just give me killer books. When it comes to the online thing, though, the landscape changes and I can enjoy many author-members of the community regardless of whether or not I think they’re writing top-notch Romance.

  17. Darlene Marshall
    Jul 03, 2007 @ 09:50:49

    Very nice column, and I applaud all the authors named who give of themselves to help others. There are many more unsung heroines out there, but it’s always a help to see good women get the recognition they deserve.

  18. Tracy Grant
    Jul 03, 2007 @ 10:57:13

    What a wonderful column! When I first started writring (eons ago, when we still used snail mail and I had no idea what a website was) writing was a very solitary profession. It was often hard to believe there were actually readers out there reading your books though intellectually you knew it was true. One of the wonderful things about the internet is that it’s allowed writers to interact so much more, on a daily basis, with readers and fellow writers. I love it–so many wonderful discussions about writing, so much interesting analysis of books. But it does mean one’s in “public” a lot more. I’ve learned to take a deep breath and reread before I push “send” or “post”, particularly when replying to any sort of criticism of my books :-).

  19. JC Wilder
    Jul 03, 2007 @ 11:34:59

    The examples in your column and the resulting comments should apply to anyone online. I’ll never understand people signing on to the net then just losing all grip on reality and only showing their ugly side. The rants, tirades and attacks – what’s up with that?

    Posts on the internet never die, they lie in wait until you contradict yourself and someone digs it up and makes the poster look the fool.

    :)

  20. Tawny
    Jul 03, 2007 @ 11:37:52

    Terrific post! Thanks for drawing some attention to the good. It’s very refreshing. And I’m equally pleased to see so many comments.

  21. Sharon
    Jul 03, 2007 @ 12:00:30

    And don’t forget Lori Foster’s “The Write Ingredients”. She put together a bunch of recipes from authors to raise money for the troops.

  22. Danielle D
    Jul 03, 2007 @ 13:11:50

    Great column, Jane.

  23. Shannon Stacey
    Jul 03, 2007 @ 14:03:18

    Great post, and I loved that you included Charlene for her writing. I'll note that she's also a generous supporter of other writers, sharing ideas and insight.

    I’ll second that. I know it’s ever so hard to believe, but there are writers who often show a gracious public face to readers, while playing not so nice with their fellow authors behind the scenes. Charlene is not only a talented writer, but a genuinely wonderful person.

    Authors like Jennifer Crusie (Unfortunate Miss Fortunes), Eloisa James (Desperate Duchesses), and Julia Quinn (The Secret Diaries of Miranda Cheever) tirelessly share their knowledge of writing, for free, with aspiring writers.

    Those of us who spend/have spent a significant amount of time on the eHarlequin boards (I know there are a few here, at least), know countless authors who give back, but I’d like to personally mention three whose generosity with time and knowledge significantly changed my writing path: Karen Templeton (SIM, SSE, etc), Patricia McLinn (SSE) and Deborah Hale (HH, Luna). They’re not only incredibly talented authors, but wicked awesome ladies, too.

  24. Jordan Summers
    Jul 03, 2007 @ 15:40:57

    Great entry. I’ll second Ciar’s opinion of Charli. ;)

  25. EC Sheedy
    Jul 03, 2007 @ 15:52:45

    Jane, what a great column! You are so very right about the ongoing focus on negativity. What a treat to see the positive for a change. And your A-team list was perfect. But do add Lori Foster!

    As always, thanks for some good reading.

    EC

  26. Allie
    Jul 03, 2007 @ 16:19:34

    I do enjoy reading the drama that goes behind the scenes, but I do like knowing about the nice authors. The authors who seem approchable and the ones that seem nice makes me what to go out and buy there books.

  27. Josie
    Jul 03, 2007 @ 18:06:13

    Great post Jane!
    I know there are some authors I might never have tried if they hadn’t take the time to interact online in a positive way… Charlene is one (I loved Yule Be Mine). Kristina Cook and Helen Kay are a couple of others I’ve picked up and enjoyed after reading their guest blogs with Sybil. I’ll most likely be buying their books in the future also.
    I tend to be a bit put off when an author loses their rag online, so thanks for acknowledging some of the writers who do make a positive contribution!

  28. N.J. Walters
    Jul 04, 2007 @ 07:29:38

    What a wonderful column. It’s great to see something so positive. Most authors work very hard to bring their best work forward, and they’re also very generous–sharing their time and knowledge with fellow writers and readers alike.

    Fabulous list and I have to agree that Charlene Teglia is right up there with the best.

  29. BevL(QB)
    Jul 04, 2007 @ 10:49:57

    Beautiful post concept. After blogging about a recent unpleasant experience I had with an author behaving badly, I followed it up with a post about authors who are Class Acts- Michele Hauf, Jaci Burton, Annie Dean/Ann Aguirre, and (in the comments of the 1st post) Ilona Andrews.

    Then there are all the authors who sponsor or contribute to charity auctions almost non-stop- Laurell Hamilton, for example, although I know there are many, many more.

    As for online presence making a difference, Annie Dean/Ann Aguirre is a good example. I very seldom read non-paranormal, straight contemporaries. But I enjoy Annie’s online voice so much that I wanted to read her written “voice”. And, you know what? I enjoyed that, too!

    Renee Bernard is another author who’s written “voice” I wanted to “hear” after she filled in for Robin Schone to head the erotica panels at RT Con 2006 in Daytona. I was not the only one there that enjoyed her so much that I made a point of buying (and enjoying) “A Lady’s Pleasure” when it was released a few months later.

    Charlaine Harris and Maryjanice Davidson’s presence at the con also convinced me to give their Sookie and Betsy series another try after I realized that I wasn’t “hearing” their voice when I first tried them. Now, I eagerly anticipate the release of their books in audio format.

  30. Taige Crenshaw
    Jul 04, 2007 @ 18:14:58

    Great post. Authors who help out with so many worthy causes as well as help out other writers. Thanks for sharing this.

  31. Jess
    Jul 04, 2007 @ 21:43:39

    Oh, wow. You know, your mentioning of Brenda Novak’s work of raising money for diabetes makes me want to read her. I’ve never heard of her, but as a diabetic, I really, really love it when people try and do something about it. It makes me want to support them. I’m going to make an effort to look out for it next year, to help support her. Lists like this are important because it reminds that not everything is wanktastic and for all the bad points, there are just as many good.

  32. Sasha
    Jul 09, 2007 @ 15:47:33

    What a great post! It’s nice to see those behaving well get noticed.

  33. Jenna Leigh
    Sep 11, 2007 @ 16:00:37

    Nice to know that some of my fave authors made your ‘good’ girl list, too.

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