Three Ways Author Behavior Drives Away Readers

I talked about something like this a little bit before, but I want to approach your author image from a different angle today.

As authors, we already know that our name is our brand. And that means the way we communicate is directly linked to our name…and our sales.

You see, I’ve been observing other authors online for a long time now, following stories of authors behaving badly, and reading posts like this one about how your behavior affects your sales and connections to readers. I’ve seen authors who get their fans to attack people who don’t like their work, authors directly attacking readers who leave bad reviews, and authors who do nothing but lament about their lack of sales and complain about all the reasons why they think their book isn’t selling (hint: those authors usually blame everything outside of their control).

Unfortunately, what some authors fail to notice is that their behavior is directly affecting how potential readers view them and their work…meaning they are losing sales by the way they are presenting themselves.

Let’s take a look at some of these examples.

1.Authors getting their fans to attack the “haters.” This is when an author will lament about how someone’s poor review or disinterest in their work personally hurt them, and their fans jump to their defense.

The problem with this is that they are manipulating the system. They give themselves plausible deniability, but everyone can see the melodrama and their behind-the-scenes approval of this behavior as their fans rip people to shreds.

For potential readers, this is incredibly off-putting. It can be downright scary. I’ve stopped reading authors and gotten rid of all their books for behavior like this. And so have plenty of others.

2. Authors attacking readers who leave bad reviews. Much like point #1 above, this is another case of authors behaving badly. Many times, these authors have a sense of self-importance, thinking that the reader couldn’t possibly have understood the bigger, deeper message they were trying to portray. Sometimes they even personally attack the person.

But the truth is that the author is unwilling to admit they may not have a perfect book. They would rather argue with their “haters” than admit any shortcomings in their writing.

There’s a reason authors are told not to read reviews. Besides the potential for reviews to be completely demotivating to an author, it’s really hard not to defend yourself. But when you respond to these kinds of comments, you may be opening yourself up to an argument.

Nothing good can come of this. The reader walks away, but the author is left just looking bad.

And it is never okay to personally attack anyone when critiquing a piece of writing, including a book review.

3. Authors constantly lamenting their lack of sales or success on their public platforms. This one drives me nuts. By constantly complaining, you are giving your followers a negative view of you and your brand.

Don’t let on if you aren’t selling well. Let people think everything is normal. When you constantly complain, you’re creating an atmosphere of guilt and pity from the reader, and even if they buy your book out of that, they are probably prepared to hate it…or they may never read it. They may start to feel manipulated by you into buying a book, and that can lead to resentment or loss of followers.

Act like you’re a success, whether you feel like one or not. You wrote a book! You published it! That IS a success! Be positive, have an optimistic outlook in your interactions with readers, and generally be kind, and people will follow you. And the more people follow you, the more likely they are to buy your book.

And even if you are seriously upset about your success or feeling like a failure in your writing…don’t say so. You can say that in the privacy of your personal relationships, but don’t complain to your fans. That’s not why they’re there.

They are there because they want to interact with you. And they will leave if the interactions are draining, negative, or a waste of their time.

Long story short, readers follow authors online and leave reviews because they want to. How we as authors interact with readers can really boost us or it can ruin our fanbase.

So don’t let yourself get in the way of your success. Remember that you are a professional. Make sure that everything you say online reflects that. Because, and this is so cliche by now but still fits, the internet is forever.

Make your social media accounts positive experiences for your followers. Don’t engage with negative comments.

And absolutely keep writing, friends.

Heart of the Curiosity Cover Reveal!

H.L. Burke’s new book comes out soon…check out her awesome cover!

Today I have another upcoming release for you, this one from the very talented H. L. Burke! I’ve seen her talking about this so much over the past few months, and I am so excited to read it when it releases.

Anyway, before the cover, here’s the blurb:

The secret lies with the Heart.

Born with a magical knack for manipulating emotions, Leodora’s only dream is to ensure her talented little sister dances on the biggest, brightest stage in the Republic: The Curiosity, a grand old theater of tradition and innovation. After escaping a cruel carnival, Leo secures her sister a place in the Curiosity’s chorus line, and herself a job as a professional audience member, swaying the crowd’s mood with her magic. The girls have a home for the first time in their lives.

Then a tragic accident darkens the theater. A greedy businessman begins blackmailing Leo, and financial woes threaten to close the show forever. The Curiosity’s sole hope lies in a mythical power source hidden beneath the maze-like passages and trapdoors of the theater—the Heart. And Leo’s only friend Paxton, nephew of the theater’s stagemistress, is the key to finding it.

While Leo and Paxton hunt for the Heart, the blackmailer’s threats loom larger. Mysterious figures, cryptic clues, and deadly traps hinder the search at every turn. If the friends cannot recover the Heart in time, Leo and her sister will be cast out of the only home they’ve ever known, and the final curtain will fall on The Curiosity.

Enter a world reminiscent of The Greatest Showman, with a puzzle worthy of Sherlock Holmes and National Treasure, in this new Steampunk Fantasy from H. L. Burke.

And now, the moment you’ve been waiting for.

You can find this book in all your favorite places…including an autographed copy from the author herself! It will be out on June 27th.

About the author

Born in a small town in north central Oregon, H. L. Burke spent most of her childhood around trees and farm animals and was always accompanied by a book. Growing up with epic heroes from Middle Earth and Narnia keeping her company, she also became an incurable romantic. 

An addictive personality, she jumped from one fandom to another, being at times completely obsessed with various books, movies, or television series (Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and Star Trek all took their turns), but she has grown to be what she considers a well-rounded connoisseur of geek culture. 

Married to her high school crush who is now a US Marine, she has moved multiple times in her adult life but believes that home is wherever her husband, two daughters, and pets are.

Where to find her

Making My Own Luck

Can we really make our own luck?

Lately I’ve been reading The Business of Being a Writer by Jane Friedman. If you’ve never heard of Jane Friedman, I’d definitely suggest looking her up, particularly if you want to make writing a career. She’s got some great advice and information for the business side of things.

Anyway, one of the things she talks about early in the book is the idea that part of success is luck. Well, yeah, we already talked about that back in March.

But more than that, she cited a study from the University of Hertfordshire (look up Richard Wiseman and The Luck Factor) that looked at people’s perceptions of their own luck. Basically, what it came down to was that if a person considered themselves unlucky, they were more apt to miss opportunities or to skip trying for certain opportunities whereas someone who viewed themselves as lucky stayed more open and were more likely to see opportunities as they arose.

It was all about mindset.

And isn’t that so true? How many times have you skipped applying for something or submitting something because you were convinced you wouldn’t get it? I know I’ve given up on my share of opportunities for that reason.

But we can make our own luck. We see it time and again, how our mindset about our chances of success can be predictive. If you really want it to happen, if you expect it to happen, you’ll see more of the opportunities and take more chances to make it happen… and that can increase your chance for success.

Now, of course I’m not saying that positive thinking will make you a bestselling author.

No, what I’m saying is that we need to evaluate ourselves. How is our outlook on our career affecting us? Does it affect our mental health? Is it limiting us?

Or is it helping us to expand our horizons, take chances, and really put ourselves out there?

If your answer is that you are limiting yourself, that’s okay. I limit myself, too. But let’s use this as a springboard to recognize those times when we’re cutting ourselves off at the knees. Let’s use it to encourage ourselves to move forward and take a few risks. And let’s find the people who will let us know when we’re selling ourselves short.

One step at a time, let’s change our outlook on our careers. Let’s make our own luck.

And let’s keep writing.

Get to Know Me Tag

So I saw this over on Jenelle Schmidt’s blog, and it looked like a ton of fun and something you guys might enjoy! Besides that, my first book baby is out in the world now, and new people are finding my website every day. So today, I am going to participate in the Get to Know Me Tag game (Writer’s Edition) and give you all the inside scoop about Selina.

And if you want to participate, I’m tagging YOU. Throw your link in the comments below!

This tag (if I’m understanding correctly) was created by Savannah Grace over at Inspiring Writes, and it does come with a few rules:

  1. Link back to the blogger who created the tag (see Savannah Grace’s blog above)
  2. Thank the blogger who tagged you (technically I accepted Jenelle Schmidt’s open tag…so thank you!)
  3. Share the tag graphic (see the post header)
  4. Tag 11 other bloggers (like I said, I’m just going to tag all of you who want to participate!)
  5. Don’t feed this tag after midnight-oh wait, that’s Gremlins, you say? Okay, this isn’t really a rule for the tag.

Without further ado, my answers!

vital stats and appearance

Name: Selina J. Eckert

Nickname: I have many, but the most common one is Lina

Birthday: March 4

Hair color/length: I have dark brown hair, straight with a part on the right side. It’s about mid-back length now, but at one time it was waist-length, and more recently it was shoulder-length.

Eye color: brown, like a cola brown

Braces/piercings/tattoos: I had braces until my very last day of 8th grade. No tattoos, but I have my ear lobes double pierced. I usually only wear one set of earrings though.

Righty or lefty: Righty

Ethnicity: Mostly German and Pennsylvania German (PA Dutch…who aren’t Dutch, FYI), also Welsh


First novel written: I think it was sometime in elementary school, when I was obsessed with Westerns and tried to write my own on folded up computer paper. I made it through Chapter 1 and a drawing for the cover!

First novel completed: Back in middle school, I wrote a sci-fi novel heavily influenced by Star Trek starring a female captain and largely female crew. Even back then, I wanted more female protagonists! I can’t remember the title now, but it involved a scary alien race who lived on a rogue planet named Pitch and ate people…

Yeah, the book was terrible. BUT it was the first thing I ever finished, and I was really proud of it! It still lives somewhere, I just can’t remember where the binder ended up. Because yes, I printed it off and stuck it in a binder and that is the only surviving copy.

Award for writing: None yet, though I was a two-time finalist in Rooglewood Press’s fairy tale retelling contests! I’m going to get those short stories out in an upcoming anthology (hint hint).

First publication: If we’re talking novels, that would be my indie book This Cursed Flame that just came out two weeks ago! If we’re talking in general, I won an essay contest back in middle school for a bank that got published in the local paper. I got a plaque out of it, too.

Conference: As a reader, I went to BookCon in 2018. It was fantastic. I had wanted to go for years and finally had a friend to go with! As a writer, I went to a conference in Philly in I think 2017.

Query/pitch: I started querying This Cursed Flame in maybe 2014? 2015? I can’t remember. But I eventually pitched it at a writer’s conference, got a slightly positive response, then silence in 2017 and pulled it to rewrite and indie publish.


Novel (that you wrote): Honestly, it’s the one I’m working on now, Sea of Broken Glass. I feel like my answer will constantly change as I write more.

Genre: Fantasy.

Authors: Brandon Sanderson, Rainbow Rowell, Patricia Briggs, Anne Bishop, A. L. Knorr…I’m sure there are more, but I can’t think of them right now.

Writing music: I don’t usually listen to music, but if I do, it’s typically whatever has been stuck in my head most recently. Or I will just use ambient sounds (thank you Coffivity and Rainy Mood, my two favs). But most of the time it’s silence or the TV in the background.

Time to write: I don’t really get to pick. I write in whatever time I have available, since I work a day job on top of my writing career.

Writing snack/drink: I don’t really snack while writing, but I will drink things like water, milk, soda, tea, and coffee. It really depends where I am and what time of day it is.

Movie: Tangled. Followed closely by Moana.

Favorite writing memory: I think my favorite memories are during grad school when I would get home from school, sit down with my computer, and write ALL NIGHT. I finished 3 novel drafts in like four months. It was amazing. And I’ve never been able to do it again.

Childhood book: The Adam Raccoon series by Glen Keane (yes, the Disney Glen Keane). If we’re talking novel, I did read Treasure Island about six times during middle school, so you do that math. 😉


Writing: Oh boy.

  1. Sea of Broken Glass, my YA fantasy sister story.
  2. Of the Clouds, my Rapunzel retelling releasing in August.
  3. A fairy tale retelling short story anthology.
  4. A secret new novel that takes place in PA coal country (think The Raven Boys).
  5. AND the next This Curse book: This Cursed Shadow.

Listening to: I am always listening to RED and Twenty-One Pilots. I am obsessed.

Watching: Kim’s Convenience on Netflix. Bob’s Burgers.

Learning: I’m working on the ACES editing certification. I’m also always learning biology things at work. I’m learning marketing and writing for my writing career. I’m learning how to be a better person, sister, daughter, wife. I am learning how to use watercolors better.


Want to be published: I am indie published! Check out Amazon (or Goodreads, or any other major retailer)! But I also want to be traditionally published with Sea of Broken Glass.

Indie or traditional: I want to be what’s called a hybrid author. That is, I want to be both indie and traditionally published.

Wildest goal: I’d call this more a dream, but I’d love to one day be a bestselling author.

Final Thoughts

That was fun! It’s so nice to look back on how far I’ve come and where I still want to go. If you participate in the tag, let me know. Otherwise, hop into the comments and tell me some fun facts about yourself!

Thanks for reading!

Do I Need a Sensitivity Reader?

(The answer is yes)

There has been more and more discussion lately about the utility and necessity of sensitivity readers. And, friends, not all of it encourages me.

Recently, I saw a poll on Facebook asking fellow authors if they would let a sensitivity reader edit their work. And the answers (as well as the phrasing of the poll question) kind of concern me. Many of the responses were along the lines of “absolutely not!” and “I would never want to filter my writing for these sensitive snowflakes!”

Writer friends, that mentality and lack of understanding is a problem.

There seems to be a lot of confusion about what a sensitivity reader is and what role they play in the editing process, as well as the benefit that having sensitivity readers can offer authors. So today, I want to discuss and get into when you should consider finding a sensitivity reader for your own work.

Sensitivity reader (n): a beta reader with topic-relevant experience and/or expertise who reads a manuscript in order to evaluate sensitive content for misinformation, stereotypes, and harmful portrayals.

Sensitivity readers DO NOT edit an author’s work. They are simply targeted beta readers (which is actual a term that is coming into popularity for this type of reader).

And they can be very important to your work. Just in the last year, several books have been pulled from expected publication because of issues related to lack of sensitivity readers. Check out this article, and this one.

Remember all those times I mentioned that we, as authors, want to give our books every chance for success? Well, that’s one role of a sensitivity reader! Do you want to write something so offensive or ignorant that you alienate an entire demographic? Are you so convinced in the “rightness” of how you decide to write, that your work will somehow be corrupted if you take these “special snowflake” feelings into consideration, that you refuse to care about the feelings of your readers?

Guys. That’s not acceptable. Without readers, there can be no stories. Their experience and what they bring to a story is half of it. And these people are people. They deserve their stories to be told with respect and consideration, not for hype or effect or to play to tropes and stereotypes.

So let’s talk about some flags that mean you should find sensitivity readers.

  1. You write about a character with a mental illness or disability, physical illness or disability, or other similar conditions.
  2. You write about any marginalized group of people.
  3. You write a story containing abuse of any kind.
  4. You write about a sensitive topic with which you have NO personal experience.
  5. You write about a sensitive topic with which you HAVE personal experience.
  6. You write about a real topic or place where you are not part of the culture.
  7. You write Young Adult.

Let’s break that down a little more.

I think the first four are pretty self-explanatory. You want people to read your work who have direct experience with the topics in your story. It is important to have these opinions and checks and balances to tell you if the way you are portraying them and their situation is inaccurate or harmful in any way. If you ignore this, you risk, as I said, angering and alienating an entire group of readers who may (and will, depending on the context) drag you, your career, and your book through the mud. And besides that, by having these readers look at your work and provide feedback, you will add a layer of realism and relatability to the work. Having these readers will only strengthen the material you release.

And then there’s #5. Even if you are writing #ownvoices, I would still suggest finding another reader or two to contribute their experience. It doesn’t hurt to know how other people with this same experience view what you said. Example: I once wrote something in a book I had experienced myself. But when I had someone read it, they told me that what I said, even though it was a true thing for me, would actually be a harmful thing to keep in the book for my (teenage) audience. Without realizing it, I could have been causing harm, even though I wrote from personal experience.

Sensitivity readers can also be especially important if you’re writing YA. Because when you’re writing YA, you have to remember that you’re writing for young adults. They are still kids. Even if it’s a tough topic, even if they need to think about it, we need to write books that are fit for younger audiences. And that means avoiding the spread of misinformation, avoiding writing things that will directly harm a teenage reader (particularly if they are in a marginalized group or fit into my categories above). It also means sharing information that teens will find important. Just take a look at this article about what teens can learn from books, and why discussing these things is important!

It’s also important that we, if we are adult authors (like me), accurately showcase what teenage life is like. I don’t know about you, but my own teenage days were a decade ago, and things have changed! Flip phones are out, for one. And internet culture is much bigger than it was when I was in high school.

The things we say, and the way we say them, can make or break our books. Words have so much power, my friends.

Beta readers are critical to your work. Sensitivity readers are critical for your work. Please consider the value in utilizing them as important resources while you edit. Take their comments seriously, and do everything you can to make your book shine in a truly positive way.

And, as always, keep writing!


Writers, readers, gather ’round! Do you have experience with sensitivity readers? Are you a sensitivity reader? Tell me about your experiences and thoughts below!