The Dark Side Of Being An Author

‘If it wasn’t for all that you tried to do, I wouldn’t know how just capable I am to pull through, so I want to say ‘thank you.’ Thanks for making me a fighter.’ ~ Christina Aguilera (Fighter) IE_Cyberbullying

Know how you hear actors talk about fame? They say, ‘I only wanted to act. I didn’t want all this fame stuff.’ And we think, poor baby, right? All those millions, travel, stuff. It’s a real bummer. We feel like saying, ‘Shut up and be grateful!’ but I never do, especially when I see these celebs fighting for the privacy of their children.

I’m in no way famous. But as an author, it’s a good idea to have an understanding of the dark side of having your name out there.

I wrote my first book. Then my second. Then my most successful, my bestselling third book Broken Pieces. I started a social media/branding/marketing business (using my 20+ years of marketing plus my creative side = fun for me), and I love it. I love every minute of writing, connecting with readers and other authors, networking, working with amazing clients, occasional travel to writing conferences, writing regularly for the Huffington Post, San Francisco Book Review, Self Publisher’s Monthly, BookPromotion.com, my own two websites, a weekly radio show with AudioWorld’s Bennet Pomerantz, and even more I can’t name because I’ll scare myself at my to do list!

I do all this because I love sharing the tips I’ve learned with other authors, and if they can’t afford to pay me, I can provide at least provide great, free resources to help them.

I’m thrilled that I’m able to make a living for me and my family on my writing and business. I’m still in awe that people say they love my work and that I have fans. How is that even possible? I’m truly humbled by it all.

And then…come the haters. The bullies.  The stalkers. The negative people who are, for whatever reason, upset about how I live my life or how I do business. I see this happen to my author friends all the time, too and I think…why? What is in it for the detractors?

Let’s deconstruct.

BULLIES

Last week, Bennet and I were honored to chat with Jay Donovan (owner of Techsurgeons) who specializes in helping people in bullying and stalker type situations, along with being a tech genius. You can listen to the show here (it’s only 30 minutes) and it gives really good insight into why people bully, the types of bullies (narcissists, psychopaths, etc) and how best to handle, particularly online.

Here’s what I learned: while it’s best to ignore a bully and not engage them directly, Jay does suggest letting others know that you are being bullied. There’s no reason to protect the bully, in other words. As someone who believe strongly in The Four Agreements, particularly to not take anything personally — I believe that what people say about us says far more about them than us.

Bullies typically have huge egos and very high self-esteem – as if we live in their kingdom and must obey their rules. Their favorite M.O. is spreading unfounded or unsupported rumors online.

What to do: whatever it is that you’ve always done. This latest person had an issue with something she assumed I’ve done on Twitter (something that I didn’t actually do), but rather than engage with her in a case of ‘she said, she said,’ I addressed it once on my Facebook wall so my friends and followers would know if they heard about it what the real situation is, and that was it. I wasn’t even going to write about it here, but others encouraged me to at least discuss the situation because so many others are dealing with it.

Remember, we cannot control what others say or do. It’s on us to be who we are and offer no explanation ‪#‎AuthenticityRocks‬

STALKERS

Stalkers are different. They tend to have more psychopathic tendencies — they don’t care that someone is freaked out by them because that is their goal — their emotional value system is completely missing. Stalkers generally have low self-esteem and if their connection to their victim ends, they feel as if their identity has been stolen from them and they’ll do whatever they can to get it back.

In my own experience with stalkers, law enforcement advises NO CONTACT. Do not engage them in any way, block them at every turn, fix your privacy settings online to as strict as possible, and never give out your real home address — have a PO Box for any mail having to do with your online life. Or hire someone like Jay to help you.

As for how these situations have affected me? I’ve become far less trusting — something that I’ve struggled with anyway for most of my life due to childhood sexual abuse at the hands of a neighbor. Though that is a completely separate issue, I’ve been burned more than once for trusting that someone online is as ‘normal’ as they initially seem.

WHY?

If you find yourself asking the typical, ‘Why me?’ question in the face of these situations, look closely at your actions. Did you do something that set somebody off? Perhaps, though I avoid flame wars at all cost. Sometimes, we never know if a single tweet or statement can set someone off. While I don’t believe in self-censorship, I also don’t believe in flaming others. As adults, it’s on us to take responsibility for what we have done to contribute to difficult situations.

However, we are never, ever, ever responsible for someone else’s actions or behavior. It’s not our fault that someone as an issue with us. We don’t owe anybody an explanation for our life choices, especially some stranger we neither know or respect.

There’s definitely a dark side to being online and if we’re not careful, we can be pulled into it. Don’t. Walk away. Surround yourself with support and help. Handle it privately (block people, remove yourself from groups, fix your privacy settings, etc.), and then keep doing your thing. I’m not into inspirational stuff (I feel we all have to find our own inspiration, and a trite saying rarely helps), but I do believe we should trust ourselves.

Above all, remember that if someone is trash talking, hating, or bullying you, they are teaching you a lesson in how NOT to be ‪#‎RiseAbove‬.

‘They can’t succeed in taking my inner peace from me. They can say all they wanna say about me. I’m gonna carry on.’~ Christina Aguilera (Keep On Singin’ My Song) 

(There’s a line between someone hating on you and actually libeling and bullying. Take action: StopBullying.gov has tons of great info!)

 

About Rachel Thompson

Rachel Thompson is the author of the award-winning Broken Pieces, as well as two additional humor books, A Walk In The Snark and The Mancode: Exposed. Rachel is published and represented by Booktrope. She owns BadRedhead Media, creating effective social media and book marketing campaigns for authors. Her articles appear regularly in The Huffington Post, The San Francisco Book Review (BadRedhead Says…), 12Most.com, bitrebels.com, BookPromotion.com, and Self-Publishers Monthly. Rachel is the creator and founder of #MondayBlogs and #SexAbuseChat and an advocate for sexual abuse survivors. She hates walks in the rain, running out of coffee, and coconut. She lives in California with her family.

Comments

  1. You make some really good points here, Rachel, and offer good advice for how to deal with these situations. You have also gone the extra mile to explain the reasons and psychology behind how and why these things happen. I think that’s important for people to know.

    • Thank you Eva for reading and commenting. It’s been a learning experience for me, that’s for sure. I’m always fascinated by people and why they do what they do. While I tend to avoid online drama if at all possible, sometimes it’s simply unavoidable — just by being out there, we become targets for whatever it is people have issues about.

      I’d love to be able to have people talk (to me or others) in these situations, rather than libel, slander, or rant. Ultimately, it’s a learning experience, and we hopefully learn more about people and how to handle this type of thing.

      thanks again!

  2. Though I haven’t (yet) had to deal with bullies online, I have, as a result of my profile as an author, been the target of bullying from within my day job as a nurse. There was an incident, a couple of years ago, where I was targeted by my employer because of something they chose to misconstrue in an interview I gave about my writing and my nursing and I was subsequently put through an investigative process that was extensive and hugely damaging to myself psychologically. And what was the result of that investigative process?

    Nothing – absolutely nothing…except a huge hit to my well being.

    It has taken me years to rebuild myself in terms of self esteem and self confidence. But I am in a much better place now than I was.

    In this instance however, the bully got off scott free.

    • that’s just awful! I’m glad you’re better now, Dean. I have one client who is having a terrible time and the amount of bullying she’s had thrown at her (by one person, who has a team of haters) is mind-boggling. The negativity is just so toxic — plus, who has time for that?

      Hugs, fella, and thanks for reading and sharing your story.

  3. Good advice as always. And you are right, this cyber space thingy is a funny wee place to inhabit. Happened the other day to me . I was followed by an author and followed him back. You know what Im like hon, I just make throw away comments and I replied to his follow with a, ‘Thanks for the follow young man’. Not really bothering to look whether he was young old or a hobbit! Next thing one of his followers, a defense attorney!!!! tweets and accuses me of being condescending, she did remove it later but in relation to your post it seems that some people who might not fall into the exact categories above, fall into the category of, see it, don’t think about it, react to it, retract it, some folk just don’t think, including me sometimes ……

    • Thanks, sweet Tom for reading and commenting. I think there’s a whole other article I will write on People Being Offended Syndrome. Just because you disagree with someone — that does not make you the bad guy. I call people ‘sweetie’ or ‘sweet’ or ‘luv’ all the time — it’s who I am and how I talk in real life! To be offended by the ‘young man’ comment seems like they have the chip on their shoulder, not you.

      It all goes back to not taking things personally — those who can learn that lesson rise far above the rest. Hugs to you and the missus. xx

  4. Rachel…

    I have always had the utmost respect for you, both as a person and a professional. You’ve taken it up several notches for me. This post is brilliant, sister! You are classy, full of integrity, and top shelf in my book!
    Bravo, sister!!

    • Thank you, Taylor! That means so much to me.

      It’s hard to put ourselves out there — as authors, bloggers, businesspeople. Not everyone knows the years people spend honing their skills, and to assume, based on limited information that may or may not be correct, that this person is unqualified is a big leap. I don’t just mean me — I’ve had several clients this week having to stand up for their good name, and many friends on social also. It’s disheartening.

      Mostly I just feel sad that people do this — it reminds me of gossiping old biddies, which then makes me laugh, so I guess that’s good! Hugs, sister.

  5. You give excellent advice, Rachel. Thanks.

  6. Rachel,

    Thank you so much for posting the advice great thoughts. In my non-writing worked mainly with teens and college students. That has, unfortunately, included helping with situations like the ones you mentioned. It’s never easy, but bullying or stalking can be overcome. Great job focusing the light on the subject, keep it up.

    JM

    • Thank you, JM. Especially for advising and mentoring our youth. My own 14yo girl dealt with some mean girls who made fun of her constantly on Facebook (this was about 3-4 years ago) when I allowed her a private account only for friends. I took screenshots and contacted their parents. Most were HORRIFIED to find out their angels would be so mean to another ‘friend.’ Except one dad who said, ‘well, I don’t see anything wrong with it. they’re kids.’

      THAT’S the problem — that right there. If parents are raising kids to think it’s okay, what happens when they become adults?

      thanks again for weighing in, JM xx

  7. Good points. Interestingly, had someone pile into melast week about an ”innocent comment’ .Obvs, on Twitter, if you don’t RT it, it stays in your court. This person was in a ‘chain’ of people. I was thinking about what to do (and deciding to remove myself) when EVERYONE else piled into her and gave her a Twitter slapping on my behalf. As someone who was ruthlessly bullied as a child (the only Jewish girl in a school of 800 Christians) my first reaction is always to take myself away from the scene. It was humbling to see others pile in, made me feel quite tearful and a reminder that, despite the bullies and weirdos who stalk cyberspace, if you have good mates to get yur back, they will. Seem to remember I threatened to beat up your bully for you!! (Always braver when it’s someone else, I am)

    • Aw, thanks sweet Carol! I’m so sorry that happened to you, but glad people came to your defense. It is discouraging — haven’t we all passed this phase? LOL

      I relate to the childhood thing also — growing up, I was the only Jewish girl in a town of mostly Christians also. I can’t say I was bullied, more alien-feeling than anything else.

      The online bullying now is reaching horrific levels — it’s okay to disagree, we can agree to disagree, but why is it worth harassing and bullying people? It’s just so disrespectful. I’m hoping it’s over now. No fun. Hugs, mama.

  8. This is such good information.
    I honestly never anticipated the level of mean that came with writing aemoir.

  9. Rachel. I’ve been out of the #mondayblogs loop for a while, just diving back in today, and this is the first post I happened upon. Wow. What a powerful piece to welcome me back to the fold. Happy to share this one far and wide!

    Thanks for being so brave and out there, sister. You’re a continuing inspiration…
    :)
    Deborah

  10. Great info, Rachel. Unfortunately, the internet has made it possible to say things anonymously. Being Southern, I always follow the advice my mother gave, “If you can’t say anything good (or constructive) don’t say anything at all.”

  11. Thanks for this post Rachel !
    I’m not yet there, even though I’ve already experienced some haters on amazon review… Most of them do make their pointlessness themselves. Just to mention one: one reader gave me one star just because I was “too kind with lesbian couples who are going to Belgium for artificial insemination processes who are bypassing French laws” (because it’s allowed for same sex couple, which is not the case in France).
    2 sentences in a 55k words novel !!!
    Tell me about hater ;)
    I definitely agree with the fact that bullies/haters words talk so much about themselves !
    You never know who you gonna “insult”, but guess what ? I’m proud of having letting this one be insulted for those reasons as I definitely stand for equal rights. It didn’t hurt my sales, btw ;)

  12. Thanks for this post Rachel !
    I’m not yet there, even though I’ve already experienced some haters on amazon review… Most of them do make their pointlessness themselves. Just to mention one: one reader gave me one star just because I was “too kind with lesbian couples who are going to Belgium for artificial insemination processes who are bypassing French laws” (because it’s allowed for same sex couple, which is not the case in France).
    2 sentences in a 55k words novel !!!
    Tell me about hater ;)
    I definitely agree with the fact that bullies/haters words talk so much about themselves !
    You never know who you gonna “insult”, but guess what ? I’m proud of having letting this one be insulted for those reasons as I definitely stand for equal rights. It didn’t hurt my sales, btw ;)

  13. Great advice! Unfortunately there are weird people and they also have access to the internet. I’ve had an online stalker and have been harassed by someone online while I’m not famous at all. It can happen to anyone and the more exposed you are the bigger the risk I guess. It’s scary and I even stopped using social media for a while, but that means letting them win. Thank you for sharing this as I think it’s very welcome advice for a lot of people.

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