Monday, December 17, 2012

People Skills for Writers

Online, writers don't lack for tips when it comes to grammar, punctuation, storyline, and book promotions. But one aspect that's overlooked is people skills. And not just for writers - think how much better this world would be if people skills were taught in schools.It's part of the foundation for success. (In my book, Overcoming Obstacles with Spunk, it's one of the Five Keys.)

I cover people skills in my upcoming How to Publish and Promote Your Book Now. They can help us handle situations like this:

• The reviewer who hates your book.
• The overbearing fan who asks too many personal questions.
• The bookstore manager who rudely says no to a book signing.
• The author who makes a snide remark about your genre.
• The interviewer who attacks you with questions.
• The writer who has no interest in purchasing your book but pumps you for information.

(You can probably think of a thousand more situations that might induce the urge to throttle someone. Resist!)

It all comes down our reputation. It's slow to build up, but one's reputation can be destroyed in a instant. All it takes is one moment of poor people skills to join the ranks of "Authors Behaving Badly."

Have you been in a situation where you had to stop and think before reacting? One where you almost said or did the wrong thing? Or have you witnessed a bad people skill moment lately?


44 comments:

Jemi Fraser said...

So true! People skills are vital for success in any endeavour - and those good reputations can disappear in a heartbeat!

I write romance, so I often hear/read disparaging remarks about the genre. Usually they're pretty easy to ignore :)

Stina Lindenblatt said...

We get those comments even when we tell people we're writers. I've had people look down at me because I write YA (or because I write fiction). All you can do is shrug them off and grow your people skills.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Resisting the urge to throttle...

Karen Walker said...

I had one of those moments Saturday night. Someone at folkdancing said, "You are so skinny. Don't lose any more weight." And rather than say, "Oh, I'm sorry you feel that way because I feel the best I've ever felt in my life," I said, "I'm so tired of people telling me that. My weight is my business."
Then I had to apologize.
Karen

Susan Roebuck said...

Great theme for your book. I think authors are generally a sensitive group who easily pick up what they perceive as "snubs" or criticisms. I know I do. If I know someone has read my book but says nothing about it, I immediately assume they don't like it. And I'm always lost for words when people say, "I can't imagine you writing horror stories, you're such a gentle person" LOL.
Look forward to your advice on promotion too - I'm badly in need of that.

Julie Luek said...

Sounds like great book filled with helpful suggestions. So much comes down to having true self-confidence and belief in your work and then being equipped with solid tactics to deal with the rude or "overly honest" responses.

Jennifer Shirk said...

I'm actually pretty laid back person in general. Not that that stuff doesn't bother me, but not to the point where I react.

D.G. Hudson said...

People skills often get lost in the rush. In business, you need those skills, but many forget that it applies to every situation where we deal with other people.

Your book should be a winner if it helps authors behave well. Good luck and thanks for sharing some of the information.

Wishing you Happy Holidays and the best of 2013!

J.L. Campbell said...

Sounds like a useful tool, Diane.

Johanna Garth said...

Diplomacy is a highly underrated skill! :)

Jeff Hargett said...

To be successful professionally and socially, fair and proper dealings with others must become a lifestyle. Important topic.

Misha Gericke said...

Yep. In a situation like that right now, although it's not writing related.

Still, it's good practice. ;-)

randi lee said...

I engaged in a forum once...then I thought better of it, went back and deleted the post!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Karen, sometimes we just can't help ourselves.

Susan, you're not the only one who wonders when nothing is ever said.

Jennifer, that's smart.

Jeff, very true, and it's not learned overnight.

Morgan said...

Oh my gosh... it's SO true... I've seen some very close friends go through this and it's devastating... And Diane, what a neat idea... your book sounds fantastic. I'm very intrigued!

The Golden Eagle said...

Your book sounds like it could be handy in a lot of non-writing situations, too!

Carol Kilgore said...

Not too much bothers me. When it does, I try to step back and think things through before saying anything. Bottom line for me is usually thinking the offending person doesn't deserve the time it would take for me to decide on the right thing to say. So I leave it alone. That said, I have a business background. I've learned how to be socially polite around real jerks.

Tara Tyler said...

i need to practice not spouting my first instinct on a daily basis! one is wise until he opens his mouth and proves he is not!

Denise Covey said...

Hi L Diane. It's a much needed book you've written. Yeah, whoever thinks of people skills in online books? Yet it's such a crucial part of marketing. I do feel sorry for authors on long tours, feeling tired, dealing with at times obnoxious people. Really need those people skills.

Happy Christmas L Diane, and thanks for your words of wisdom through the year.

Thanks for visiting my Cyclone story.

Denise

Laura Eno said...

Your book will be a best seller - or should be anyway!
I've seen a few ugly scenes on Twitter. Amazing what happens to people when you take the face-to-face out of the equation.
I own a few holes in my tongue from biting it. ;)

Karen Lange said...

Good point! We do need this skill in every area of our lives. I've had a few situations where I had to bridle my tongue (more with extended family than writing related, lol). It is something I need to practice. Once those words are launched, you can't take them back. Good post!

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I haven't witnessed any in person but I have seen bad behavior online.

Tonja said...

It's easy enough to delete or rephrase a comment before submitting it. :)

Jo said...

I'm about to bear my soul with my first(non-fiction)book coming out. I was just thinking today..."Why do I have to be a nonfiction writer???" It all seems so scary. I know I will get some remarks or someone will be offended which would never be my intent purposely, but writing is in our souls, that's why we do it. Great post!

Donna Hole said...

No comment. Had to delete too many opinions on this subject.

.....dhole

Yvonne's World of Poetry said...

Great post Diane, I write my poetry as many a time it's about I feel and I can express my feelings.

Yvonne.

Jo said...

Maybe another reason I'm glad I'm not an author. Didn't realise you had to deal with such problems.

Hart Johnson said...

Definitely good skills! I am terrible face to face. I just get uncomfortable pretty fast. I think I've learned to navigate online pretty well, at least mostly. But could probably use some training in person.

Sherry Ellis said...

People skills are very important! I handle difficult situations by thinking before I act.

Jai Joshi said...

So true, Diane! I've experienced almost all of those situations and then some!

I've had conversations with book store managers and librarians about authors they'd seen behaving badly and I've never wanted to be in that category.

Jai

Annalisa Crawford said...

I have to stop and think on a daily a basis. People seem to have forgotten how to treat each other.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Carol, you've had some good training.

Laura, I accept that prediction!

Donna - LOL!

Jai, so have I. And I never wanted to be those authors.

Cherie Reich said...

Being taught people skills definitely can come in handy. I often try to think before I speak, and I'm even slower to reply online because I'm thinking. Your book definitely sounds handy!

cleemckenzie said...

Since I started publishing books, I've had to review all of the things my grandmother taught me about getting along with people--even those you'd rather tell to take a flying leap. Fortunately, most people I interact with are considerate, even in their criticism.

Great topic.

Eric W. Trant said...

Yeah, I learned that the hard way at my day job. I am an engineer, and one of my peeves is superstition, and an inability for other engineers to innovate (which is our job definition).

So I got into it at work, and a reputation that was built on fifteen years of solid, top-notch skills, was doused to ashes in a few months. That was 2010, and I haven't had a raise or bonus since, nor do I expect one this year.

Point is, it not only hurt my reputation, but translated to less money. Same can happen to a writer. If you lose readers, you lose money.

Great post! Mind your manners.

- Eric

Tamara said...

This sounds like an awesome topic for a book and one that most people could seriously benefit by reading.

I think the anonymity people experience online is seeping into reality. It's like everyone is so used to saying/acting however they want online that they've started acting that way in the real world as well.

Most people seem to have utterly forgotten the Golden Rule. Good job reminding them!

Susanne Drazic said...

People skills are very important! I look forward to reading this book when it comes out.

Gwen Gardner said...

LOL, I want to say, "People really behave like that?" But of course they do.

And I agree, how to behave socially is something they should teach in schools.

M Pax said...

I try to keep the bad stuff to complaints to the Husband Unit. I figure, kill 'em with kindness and a good attitude. Maybe it'll change their minds.

Laura Marcella said...

I remember some unfortunate situations around the blogosphere the past couple years, though I didn't know any of the writers. I avoided it because I felt so embarrassed for all those who were involved and felt like the comments were making things even worse. I'm wondering if computer teachers teach online etiquette in their classes these days? They definitely should!

Ann Carbine Best said...

Truly our patience is tested. I'm working on it. Excellent list, Diane. And best wishes for the coming year with your many endeavors!
Ann Best’s Blog

Talli Roland said...

Oh, definitely! The problem is that social media is so immediate, and I often do need to take a step back and breathe to stop myself from commenting or from saying something that could be misconstrued. Sounds like your book will cover some very valuable information.

Christine Rains said...

That sounds excellent! I'm terribly shy, so it makes for bad people skills. I'm a great listener, but I never know what to say when asked something.

kmckendry said...

Those tips sound great. I think we can all use more strategies to help in those situations.