You Catch More Flies with Honey…

I write some edgy stuff. That might be to my detriment. I sometimes talk about my actual beliefs – I have this thing about honesty – I’m sure that hurts me. I’ve gotten some flack about the fact that I don’t hate homosexuals for instance. Apparently, homophobia is still all the rage. Sorry, I like the gays. I am in the business of selling my writing and, to a certain extent, myself. The Internet is forever. Whatever I throw up there sticks. And it reflects on me. I refuse to be dishonest. But at least I’m nice.

It amazes me how many writers I see being mean, childish, petulant, abrasive, divisive, and petty on prominent social networking forums. You want people to buy your books, right? I mean, that’s the idea. Food in the belly and all that jazz. So, be nice!

Here’s the thing. I’m a pretty nice person in real life, but I am introverted and I don’t talk to people all that much. I am selfish with my time. Online, I try to be as kind and receptive as I possibly can. Being bland with no socio-political views would probably be a good idea, but I have trouble with that. But I don’t have a hard time being diplomatic. I want people to think, “JD? That guy’s a class act…sure he makes the occasional penis joke, and I don’t agree with his politics, but he is polite and helpful.” That’s it. That’s my “business model”.

People try to bait me sometimes, but I won’t take it. And I keep my personal opinions pretty light. If you are an author and everything you post on Facebook is hateful political attack ads, you might want to rethink things. If you are an author and you can’t stop talking about other writers and starting little cliques, you are shooting yourself in the foot.

This is all common sense, I know, but you know what they say about common sense. Every day, I am shocked by the ways I see writers representing themselves online. We all like to share with our friends and fans when we get a good review or an award, and that’s cool…then there is downright bragging. We all have to do a certain amount of spamming, but you don’t have to spam the same thing every day, thirty times a day. It isn’t helping you.

If you write and are not dependent upon that for income, then this does not apply to you. Post your rage for all the world to see. If you are like me, however, you need to try to alienate as few people as possible while still maintaining some integrity and not becoming a two dimensional politician.

I want to sell books. It makes me feel good. And I like eating and wearing clothes and all that good stuff. My daughter has the audacity to ask for food on a regular basis. So, yeah, I want money. That means I want to piss off as few people as possible. This is not about being disingenuous. Like I said, I am honest and true to my beliefs, but I respect the fact that others can have different views. I don’t pick fights. And I have neither the time nor the interest to get into a pissing contest with anyone online.

Food for thought, scribes.

Author: JD Mader

JD Mader is an award winning short story writer and novelist. 'Joe Café' and 'The Biker' are out now, as well as 'Please, no eyes'. and the collaborative 'Bad Book'. Mader has been writing for half his life and has no plans on stopping any time soon. Learn more about JD Mader at his blog and his Amazon author page.

59 thoughts on “You Catch More Flies with Honey…”

  1. I’m with you, Dan. And not just on-line. All that stuff is immaturity as far as I’m concerned. If you have to be one up, if you have to lash out, if you have to hurt – you haven’t grown up. If you think it’s all about you and you don’t think of the effect you have on others – grow up, get some help, get a ‘real’ life. You’ll be happier.

  2. Totally agree. I try to be nice, even while I’m moderating. Don’t always manage it because sometimes I have to be harsh, but I do my best. I think that’s all we can do.

  3. Agreed. And that’s why I never say anything about religion, politics, or other “hot” topics. I may like things folks have posted, but rarely will I get into a heated debate about anything (unless it’s for fun). Even though we are not face to face, a writer is always in the limelight in some way shape or form. I cheer my fellow authors on when they say they finished writing a book, finished editing, or have proof copy in hand. We all like praise, and it works both ways.

    Great post.

  4. I almost never post my personal beliefs(religious, political, etc.) on any of my professional or personal pages. If I’m asked about them, I’ll be honest. I have nothing to hide or be ashamed of and sometimes my views seep into my writing, but not in a “beating the reader over the head” kind of way. I just don’t feel the need to plaster them online. However, I will beat everyone over the head with pictures/videos of my son without hesitation :).

  5. Again, you described me. I’m with you on this, JD. I rarely jump on a bandwagon or rant about something online unless I feel really strongly about the topic, but before I do, I think long and hard about it first; mainly to decide if I want to be in the limelight if someone vehemently disagrees with me or posts their difference of opinion, of which they have the right to do and have. I hate getting in trouble and I hate spamming people or getting spammed, and you won’t see me doing it on a regular basis. It’s just not me.

  6. Honesty always brings flak (f-l-a-k, not f-l-a-c-k).Scuze me, but, this is an open forum. We’re supposed to be okay with these kinds of corrections, in this very, very best of all possible worlds). “Very” is a word that should never be used.

    It takes about a second-and-a-half to understand how your writing (and life) is aligned with taking on everything and everyone with True Grit, JD.

    If you have true beliefs, I’d like to know what they are. Can you put them into written form, or as images posted on Pinterest? I’ve found it hard to see you as a True Believer in any fixed philosophy, since all we can know for certain s that everything is in a state of flux,

    You said in this post that your refuse to be dishonest, and yet how can we (any of us) know how honest we are, at any given moment in time? Rigorous self-honesty vs. cash-register honesty? You like writing edgy stuff. I believe that most Indie writers honestly believe that our stuff is edgy. That’s what defines us, perhaps more than any other quantitative measurement of how we write, and perhaps even why we write.

    1. I read this a handful of times and I am not sure what you are asking of me. You want honesty? I honestly believe everyone should have the right to do what they want without causing harm. I believe in kindness, love, generosity, and support. And gnomes. I believe in gnomes.

      I can’t tell whether you’re calling me out or agreeing with me. If you would like to respond and clarify, I will try to accommodate.

      1. I’m not calling you out, J.D., I’m just asking how we can be rigorously self-honest without offending anyone. Although there is way too much hatred and vitriol being spewed in online forums, not every political statement is hateful or harmful.

        Think of Gore Vidal and his essays, his televised war of words with William F. Buckley, for example. Did Vidal care about anything other than making his honestly held opinions absolutely clear? Did he care about public opinion? Popularity? Being ‘nice’?

        Our personal FB pages should ideally be utterly separate from our author pages, but as we know, that’s not the way it works. Social networking and marketing have become too intertwined.

        1. I hear what you’re saying Marcia and I don’t think it contradicts J.D. There is something to be said for the attitude “I’m gonna say what I need to say and to hell with anyone who doesn’t like it.” Yet that’s not always a fully viable option if you’re trying to connect with others and grow a wide audience.

          Being rigorously self-honest and still diplomatic at the same time can be tricky, but it’s worth aspiring to. As J.D.’s title notes, it generally attracts more flies than the alternate.

          And diplomacy is not so bad, is it? Diplomats pick and choose their words carefully, and try to use their words for maximum effect by speaking in the right time and place, with a specific goal in mind. Writers aren’t so very different.

          1. OK, I hear ya. Yeah, Matt is right. By honesty, I mean that I say what I think and stand by what I think is correct as I understand its viability as a construct: “truth” – one which is debatable as you allude. The point of my post is that shoving my beliefs in peoples’ faces is probably counter-productive.

            I am a human being and, like any, I like to join into the discourse…I like to have my say. *Sometimes* I might even get into politics or something risky, but I do it with respect and thoughtfulness, not name-calling and bitchiness. Or I do it in a tongue in cheek way as I am about to with my advice column.

            That’s the difference, I think. I’m not implying we all become emotionless, stance-less drones – just that we be kind to each other and stay away from petty arguments, author cliques, and backstabbing which is all too common and hurts everyone.

  7. An awesomely honest statement. Great post Mr. Mader. Honesty is persuasive in and of itself, and your honesty shines through.

    And being true to yourself at the same time you’re being diplomatic and “classy” isn’t always easy, but it’s worth doing. It helps avoid so many problems – not only in relationships with others but also within yourself. We all are susceptible to hearing an inner voice talking trash about our own self and our own abilities, and that voice can be the biggest roadblock to our success as a writer. So I would add: be honest and diplomatic and kind and classy to yourself, too.

  8. Well said, Dan. I have often thought that the biggest hurdles we face are put up by ourselves. I’ve talked to readers who through curiosity or sheer dumb luck stumbled upon writer forums only to find out that really cool writer they were beginning to like was a complete ass. Not that being an ass is any detriment to their work. But it can be a real buzz kill for their career.

  9. Hey there Dan, I’m going to write this before I’ve read everyone’s comments so I may be slightly repeating. This is a very important topic to me and I’m glad you’ve written about it.

    As an HR person in my real life, I have always been careful about my online presence. I never talk about work (except to promote the great non-profit I work with) and I certainly never ever talk about situations at work. I agree WHOLEHEARTEDLY that once something goes out in the webosphere, it is, in some capacity, there forever.

    With regards to other topics and my writing world, there are some values and important issues which are non-negotiables in my life and which I won’t shy away from talking about from even if it loses me a reader or twenty. For example: I am a strong supporter of HIV/AIDS community organizations. I don’t tolerate jokes about Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. I will block you if you are making snide remarks at the expense of another person or bullying.

    Perhaps this may have consequences when/if I finally publish my writing and am trying to sell it but I’m fine with that. Besides, I really can’t imagine that someone completely opposed to the general principles I try to live by would find my characters and stories of interest.

    To me it all comes down to one thing: respect. That includes self-respect too.

  10. I have some pretty strong views on certain things but I hope I express those views like an adult instead of like a petulant child. I don’t expect everyone to agree with me and really dislike the personal attacks that seem to pass for discussion these days. What happened to reasoned debate and respecting the views of others?

    Yes, as writers we should be honest about our beliefs so no-one ends up getting an unpleasant surprise but those beliefs should never, ever be used to bludgeon someone over the head!

  11. Good stuff, Dan. I’ve been known to share the occasional political post on my personal Facebook page, but I keep the controversial stuff off my fan page and tweets. And I never, *ever* say bad things about my day job, even on my personal page, because that stuff can come back to haunt you.

    Interestingly, I follow a few trad-published authors on Facebook and Twitter, and a *lot* of their posts and tweets are political/controversial in nature. It doesn’t bother me because their political views tend to mesh with mine. It does make me wonder how many followers they’re losing because of that choice, though.

  12. Well, JD, you’ve done it again, and I’ve done my usual late entry (must be the time difference over here) so it has all, just about, been said. I’ll just say, ‘Great post, and I’m with you, brother, and almost everyone else on the page thus far.’

    1. Thanks brother. Much obliged. There are enough of us that the world is trembling some now, I think. It smells a bit like revolution and sounds of early Ramones. 😉 Onward!

  13. My angle is slightly different: I have no problem with anyone (including writers, of course) expressing extreme political, philosophical or religious opinions. Debate is the lifeblood of the learning process, after all. What I do have a problem with is the dismayingly common immaturity of far too many people who don’t know how to express disagreement courteously and almost seem to take it personally. We were talking about Hunter S recently, and can you imagine his writings without the keen-edged polemics toward the politicians of his day? Disagree with me on this, Mader, and it’s pistols at dawn. 😉

  14. I completely agree that there’s a lot of people who LOVE the relative anonymity of the internets, and actually USE that to express (not to mention) project, their frustration on the rest of us.. And that the better part of commerce is perhaps to keep quiet. I was trying to sell a used car that broke down in NM, with nobody there to fix it on craigslist, and after grilling me for 19 emails, some jerk suddenly decides, (after a LOT of pontificating) it was “worthless”…
    Then… wait for it, folks…he also goes on to educate me that…
    I was not a Christian and had a “lot of spiritual work to do” because it was a sign of “poor maintenance and low awareness” that my car had broken down at all.
    All because the mechanic who wanted to drop a whole new engine in was named “Jesus”
    Funny part being, the guy happens to work for the biggest manufacturer of nuclear weapons in North America.
    Point being it’s also the task of artist to be an authentic witness to their times.
    We live in weird, controversial and extraordinary times.And speaking strictly for myself, I can’t shut up about that.
    So why not say so? The folks who “get it” get it.
    And you don’t ever reach the broader market by saying nothing at all.

  15. Good post JD –
    The more sick I get the more I don’t care, which is a bad combination when adding social networks. I will remember this … thanks for the calming influence.

    Cyn

Comments are closed.