Why should this list exist? Because it matters, not just for your career, but for our business. You are working with a publisher because a publisher not only does the work of editing and producing your work, but because we will be the ones distributing and promoting your work. This is supposed to be a reciprocal arrangement where everyone benefits from the success of promoting each other. This list is essential to our ability to promote your work and our business. What you say and do under your Pen Name (even if it’s your real name) affects your reputation and ours. We have no intention of silencing anyone, especially our authors. We think we’ve made it clear that we believe in free speech. Yet, how you speak does matter. Your authorial name is a brand name
Do be nice. Even if they’re being jerks. Ideally, treat every interaction with a fan as if you were in the midst of a (low stress) job interview. Or at least, as if you were hoping for a nice tip. (The “nice tip” is a book purchase, by that person or their offline friend who won’t know you exist unless the friend mentions you. Or the money that your other fans will spend on your work when they see how amazing you are even under such provocation.)
Do not yell at or insult your fans. No matter how stupid, bigoted, greedy, inane or otherwise wrong-headed they’re being. You want them to pay you to write. Even if they’re saying stupid or ignorant things, if you can be gracious, your other fans will notice and think you are awesome. If you lose it, other fans will wonder where you draw the lines for “okay to lose it,” and edge away from you so they don’t become the next target. Can you disagree with them? Yes. Yet, you don’t have to be insulting to do that.
Do not sink to name-calling. Really, we think that one is covered above, but we are making this one specific. While your characters can be total assholes, especially the bad guys, calling real people names like that will alienate everyone else involved. If you put it in writing, especially on our website, you bring us down with you.
Do not attack or rant about the “evils” of fanfic. Even if you hate it. Even if you normally love it, and this particular fanfic is obviously a bunch of sexist racist masturbatory tripe. (1) We are a pro-fanfic publisher. (2) Telling people to stop thinking creative thoughts about your writing is a bad thing. (3) Telling them that thinking is okay but they shouldn’t share those thoughts… again, bad thing. Why? Fanfic readers are the most loyal fans. Don’t alienate them.
Do not rant at reviewers. Even when they’re wrong. Especially when they’re wrong. If you must reply, thank them for sharing their opinions. Otherwise, just ignore it. People are allowed to not like your story. They’re even allowed to decide they hate your book based on the phrasing on the cover blurb or the first chapter without having read the whole story. Getting publicly upset about bad reviews never turns out well for the author. (For some advice about reviews.)
Never (ever, EVER) compare bad reviews, fanfic or non-physical thing that upset you to being “raped” or any other form of assault. This is often seen as belittling not just of the persons you are attacking, but also as minimizing the trauma experienced by actual survivors of rape and other forms of assault.
Do not rant about digital piracy. We’re aware of the problems; we take measures against it–report problems to us, and be as (teeth-grittingly) gracious as you can to fans, regardless of how they got your books. Learn how to send DMCA notices yourself if you want to be involved. While we will send DMCA notices when we find pirated copies of EP works, it does not hurt to have the author sending them as well. Sending an official notice to the offenders is not the same as ranting on your blog or other public sphere, or attacking the ignorance of some fans.
Do not insult other people’s kinks. No kink shaming. Everyone has things that squick them or makes them uncomfortable. You don’t understand why someone finds that hot? Or maybe it completely turns your stomach? Or it upsets you? We understand. That still will not give you permission to rant about people who do like those things. Esnpire Publishing has the broadest boundaries on content categories out there. That means you will interact with both authors and readers who have very different kinks than you (as well as those who share yours). Be polite.
Do be socially responsive. If you are comfortable, reply to comments on your blog and your story pages. FF was designed to be a socially interactive reading environment. You help yourself and the site when you participate.
Do support other authors on the site. Reply to their blogs. Comment on their stories. Help promote each other’s work. (Retweet or share each others links.) This encourages readers to do the same.
Do keep your author profile up to date. Add new information when it’s available. Update your list of work when you publish. Keep it fresh.
Do blog on our website(s). Let folks know what you are working on and ideas you’ve had. We have even started a Forum for prompt ideas on blogs.
Do try to use correct spelling and punctuation in your blog, bio and other posts to the site. Remember, this represents you as an author. Mistakes happen but completely ignoring style when posting will make you (and us) look bad.
Do keep it relevant. You are an author. Readers are interested in reading about your work, your opinions on writing, your experiences with both the writing itself and the ideas behind it. Find ways to talk about things that you are comfortable with and that you think people who enjoy your work will also want to read.
Do not give just a teaser then link to another blog. It’s acceptable to duplicate a blog you have on your own website and then link it at the end, just make sure that reader’s do not have to leave our site to read the complete blog post.
Do give your blog a short but interesting title. Both the blog itself and the individual posts have title options. To title your blog itself, go into the profile option and change it from the generic “Blog” to a title that works with others on the site.
Do not put external links in that first paragraph. It can cause problems for our site if off-site links show up in the teaser feed. Please avoid that when possible.
Do not promote commercial works in your blog without clearing it with EP first. If you want to review a non-Enspire Publishing product, talk to us about it and see if it works. It’s okay to talk about products in context of a larger post of interest to readers but do not turn the blog into an unpaid ad.
Do try to lead with the most exciting or interesting point of your post. Remember, first paragraph is what makes the reader decide whether or not to read the rest.
Do be patient. Your post will not show up immediately. All blog posts must be read, approved and formatted by the webmaster. If the timing of the post is urgent, send a note to the webmaster so they can try to handle it quickly.
Do try to answer comments with a reply within three days. This is especially important when the story is first posted or still serializing. We want to build excitement around the story and dialog helps that. Sometimes waiting for a half a day to let it build up comments and then going through them works well.
Do not give away the plot when answering chapter reviews. If the story is still being serialized, do not give away the plot on comments for the early chapters. (It’s not a problem during the summary comments.) Sometimes readers guess, and for some people, that’s part of the fun. Yet, they still have to wait until that part posts to find out and we don’t want spoilers for later parts.
Do not correct them. If someone says something stupid, wait and let one of the other fans correct them. It happens.
Do not jump on people who misunderstand. Sometimes it helps to make a few neutral replies but mostly let the fans work it out.
Do be try to be patient with the fans even when they are being difficult. Basically, if they complain, don’t defend, though sometimes you can explain if they ask questions. Kind of “good teacher” voice rather than “justify what I did.” It doesn’t happen too much, but if it does, take a deep breath, count to ten, take a drink, go for a run or do something else to let off steam before you even think of replying.
Do try to let the story speak for itself as much as possible. If we have done our job, the characters motivations are clear in the end. Anything left out can be put in the Author’s Notes when we are done.
Do treat requests for more, whether it’s the next chapter or a sequel, as the equivalent of “encore” at a stage event. It’s the audience’s way of saying they really like your work. If more is warranted/inspired, we can do it, but try not to feel pressured to write more than the story warrants.
Do try to be positive. The best way to answer is to say things that validate their feelings even if you disagree with the interpretation.
“Thanks for commenting.”
“Always happy to please.”
“Well, hopefully it will be interesting to find out.”
“I’m glad you found this thought provoking.”
If you need advice, have suggestions or have questions on any of this, please email D.M. Atkins. She has years of experience in interactive social media fiction sites.[Copyright 2012. This document is the sole copyright and confidential property of Fantastic Fiction Publishing. It may not be shared or distributed without written permission from EP. Last modified 3/8/2018.]