There will be trolls, bullies, and stalkers

fist

When you’re new to social media, the prospect of dealing with trolls, bullies, and stalkers might be intimidating or even discouraging. Don’t be discouraged. Be prepared.

You’ll escalate a problem or an attack with a knee-jerk response online. Devise a plan of action, and then stick to it.

Take a screenshot of the abusive comment. You might need it later, if the comment is deleted.

Your emotions will cloud your judgment. Know so in advance. Before you do anything in response to a problem that isn’t criminal or threatening, ask a neutral third party whose opinion you value to assess the situation. Another person’s perspective can give you insight that on a normal day you’d have for yourself.

Slow down. Sleep on it, if possible. It takes time for a flood of emotions to subside.

The best advice you’ll ever receive is, “Don’t feed the trolls.” Trolls, bullies, and stalkers bask in others’ reactions. If you react, you’ve giving them exactly what they desire. If you don’t respond, there will be nothing to keep them coming back. Frustrated, they’ll search for prey elsewhere.

You absolutely don’t need to have the last word. Why not let the abusive comment speak for itself? Readers recognize comments written by trolls. Once in a while, they even come to the defense of the person who’s being harassed.

If you’re a victim of cyberstalking or have received an online threat that makes you fearful, contact the police and ask to make a report of the incident.

Bookmark these, so they’ll be handy if you need them

Stalking Resource Center
A Program of the National Center for Victims of Crime

10 Tips for Handling Twitter Trolls
by Alex York, Sprout Social

Brave New Bullying: Goodreads Gangs, Amazon Attacks—What Are Writers to Do?
by Kristen Lamb

Lessons from Amy’s Baking Company:
Six Things You Should Never Do on Social Media

by Kelly Clay, Forbes

There’s Only One Thing To Do When The Internet Calls You Fat
by Jessica Plautz

5 Ways Writers Kill Their Credibility Online
by Lucy V. Hay, Bang2Write

Trolls just want to have fun
“trolling correlated positively with sadism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism”
by Erin E. Buckelsa, Paul D. Trapnellb, and Delroy L. Paulhus, Personality and Individual Differences

Suffering Fools
by J.A. Konrath

You’ve Got Hate Mail: How to Deal with (Annoying) Critics
by L.L. Barkat

Which writer is a pro, and which one never will be?

guts over fear
Photo courtesy of NordWood Themes

As you discover how the book business works, you’ll notice that many, if not most, other writers sit around fantasizing about success without doing much to achieve it. You’ll see how assiduously they avoid certain aspects of the business of writing, because they don’t want to confront their weaknesses. At some point it will become obvious to you which writer is a professional and which one never will be. You might eventually forget what it was like to be unaware of the difference.

No one will ever demand that you do what you need to do to be a successful author. People simply will give up on you and invest in someone who’s more prepared. You’re expected to recognize the opportunities and carry out the work because you understand the nature of the competition. There’s no shortage of useful information for writers who are motivated to learn about the book business, and the learning never stops.

If you’re waiting for someone to tell you what to do, then you’re a person who makes excuses. You’re not fooling anyone.

Procrastination comes off as a lack of enthusiasm or, worse, learned helplessness. If you’re in a rut, get out of it! Waiting for guidance instead of researching and developing your own professional strategies is self-defeating. You are empowered to make of your writing career what you want it to be.

Agents and acquiring editors, for example, can’t assume there will be improvement in your online presence and your ability to help with book promotion. All they see when making their decisions is what’s discoverable at the precise moment they consider your manuscript.

If your goal is to be a book author whose books actually sell, then begin by identifying other creators who are good at self-promotion and whose results are worthy of your admiration. Learn from everyone. Some musicians and journalists are great at leveraging social media. You’ll find role models in many industries other than book publishing.

Your best results will come from innovating, because you’re more noticeable when you’re out in front of the crowd.

Get out there.