You all know that excuse, you all have heard it. You’re cruising along through some online discussion about this or that and what authors shouldn’t do to promote their books when, BOOM, some fool drops those words your mother hated to hear, “But everybody’s doing it!”
It could be about rather important but honest things like not getting a professional editor but it’s usually about such things as buying reviews or spamming discussions. I swear the post actually whines. Everybody does it. How can I get noticed and sell my book(s) if I don’t? Everybody does it. (You can hear the whine, right?)
Got news for you, cupcake, not everybody does it. Why? It’s simple really, some people are just honest and believe that hard work and talent will eventually bring them the rewards of their labor, some just believe in following the rules and searching for acceptable ways to get notice, and some are scared of getting caught.
Because getting caught brings about a special kind of attention. Sure, you may get some sales and “pity” reviews because there are always those who seem to think that people are being mean to you when they express their displeasure for your actions by writing about it or giving your book a negative review.
“It isn’t about the book,” they protest, but it really is. Every act of lying, scamming, cheating to get your book noticed is exactly about the book and the author. You may have written the Great American Novel, probably not because most writers in this group seem to barely rise above mediocre, but you have also shown your naked butt in public and it is not a pretty sight. You are not to be trusted.
You have tried to cheat your potential readers, you have tried to cheat your fellow authors. Why would we want anything to do with you?
For the rest of your career this will follow you like a loyal dog, right there at your heel where everybody can see it. From now on your every action, every review, and in the case of plagiarism, your every book will be scrutinized closely and even if it seems acceptable the doubt will linger.
There will always be those who will support the poor beset author, defending them, trying to minimize their misdeeds like an overly fond parent defending their child when s/he’s caught stealing a car or defending them because they themselves have done something they shouldn’t and are hoping for a little tit for tat when they are caught.
So if you have to defend your actions by claiming everybody’s “doing it” you might want to reconsider those actions because most assuredly everybody is not “doing it” and those are the authors readers, reviewers, and bloggers are going to support.
Ruth Mahala Burlingame