There will be trolls, bullies, and stalkers


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

Simple daily checklist for aspiring authors

If you intend to make creative writing your profession, then clock in to the job at least five days a week. You won’t need to be reminded to do the writing part. Don’t clock out until you’ve also accomplished all five of these marketing and business-related tasks each workday:

  1. Put in place one component from the Platform Hub graphic created by Anthony Puttee. Recognize that your online presence will require maintenance, because some of its components involve ongoing efforts. Eventually, put in place will become maintain and update, but first you must put the component in place.
  2. Multiple choice—pick one:
    • Submit or pitch a short piece of writing for publication somewhere.
    • Apply for a fellowship, residency, or grant funding.
    • Send out a book review request (when the time comes).
    • Invite someone to guest blog on your site.
  3. Learn something new related to the craft or business of writing. If doing is the way you learn, then get hands-on.
  4. Do something nice for someone in the book publishing ecosystem. Be inventive. Write a fan letter, comment on someone’s blog, review a book, attend and be supportive at an author event, write a blogpost, send out a podcast, give advice. Be generous, and you’ll be remembered.
  5. Add a new person to your list of professional contacts. Categorize or tag, file, and back up the data, so you can locate contact information when you need to ask for a return favor, such as a book review, advice, a blurb, or a referral.

Structure these five tasks as a daily checklist. After a few weeks, you’ll be surprised by how efficient you’ve become at getting them done each day. It will become second nature. If the work seems onerous, then you probably don’t want to make creative writing into a profession. You’ll be much happier as an amateur, concerned with no one’s expectations but your own.

Photo courtesy of Cathryn Lavery