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Rules Of Engagement.

Updated: May 2, 2023



There are a number of things I've seen in the genre recently, where I think, "uhhhh ...what?" When I say 'genre', I'm referring to horror fiction; and those members of our community. Not just the authors, but the editors, publishers, reviewers, bloggers, podcasters, artists/illustrators, etc. You get the idea. But, what kinds of things? Well:


Friending to get likes/follows, then unfriending once achieved.


Which is weird for a number of reasons. Yes, it might be seen as a degree of social proof - but your status isn't your product. So why would you follow/Like someone if you weren't into their product? I appreciate that's how I see it, but that's not how everyone else might see it. In the horror genre fiction community where we pride ourselves on our craft as much as our approach to it, this friending/unfriending is a hard pass. No. Don't do it. From a social media point of view, there are people or accounts that I might friend or follow - but this isn't a quid pro quo thing. I do so because I'm interested enough - and I'm happy if you think the same. If you think otherwise, then - to quote Dirty Harry - you're shit outta luck. And because news can travel fast in said community, if one person gets wise to your foolishness, it won't be long before others catch on.



Abuse of reviewers (including, but not limited to stalking and death threats).

What's important to remember is that no matter what your chosen endeavour is, whether it's writing, music, sculpture, sport, whatever - there will *always* be those who simply aren't moved by what you do; but *your* audience will love you for it. With that in mind, if someone states they didn't like your work, why wouldn't you leave it at that, and move on? Even if they continually give this verdict on more of your work, why would you give them headspace? They're just one person out of how many? Assuming your work gets good reviews, why would you dwell on the bad ones? Let alone stalking those who wrote them? And stalking opens you up to a can of worms that may include but isn't limited to bad press, legal implications ...and blowback from the same audience that you are, supposedly, trying to entertain.


Now, if a reviewer has reviewed your work and asserts it didn't work for them because of a, b, and c ...well, that's their opinion. Which they're entitled to. While these instances are few and far between, there are still too many reports of authors with a misplaced sense of entitlement that a reviewer (or publisher/editor, for example) is misguided because that author's work wasn't met with a rave review. Again: there will *always* be those who simply aren't moved by what you do. And death threats are not only extreme and misguided, but open you up to a can of worms that may include but isn't limited to bad press, legal implications ...and blowback from the same audience that you are, supposedly, trying to entertain.


In either case, harassment of reviewers is wrong.


Even with unflattering reviews, I'm still grateful that they help to put me and my work in front of the audience. More often than not, reviewers do this for the love of genre fiction and the genre itself - and without pay. They want to support the genre. For the record, I'd have no issue with reviewers charging for reviews; especially since it's a service that puts you and your work in front of the audience. That's not to say you're assured a good or bad review, just an honest one. Although, if a reviewer will charge for a review (and how much might be charged is a whole other topic), then I expect a review once monies have been paid. To circle back, genre reviewers provide a service free of charge and in their own time - which may be limited. So bear in mind that when reviewers state they will try to review a work, they're not being difficult. I bet there's a good chance they read more books than you do - so be appreciative that they actually try taking the time to read yours.



Unwelcome sexually suggestive contact.


Usually, I see this against women in the community and, thankfully, that community (regardless of gender) will show support and understanding. As for the perpetrators, I'm genuinely baffled as to what drives them to act this way. If it's not to pursue a genuine and mutual attraction, and you can't do it honestly and respectfully, take a long hard look at yourself. Why would you act in such a way making women uncomfortable? In some instances - and I say this because some women will post screenshots of that contact - it looks like the aim is just that: to make them feel uncomfortable. Again, I ask: why? Take a long hard look at yourself, and do better. Again: news travels fast in said community - and such behaviour may open a can of worms that includes but isn't limited to bad press, legal implications ...and blowback from the same audience that you are, supposedly, trying to entertain.


What's also important is that for all of the examples mentioned - and more besides - we speak up, even if *we* aren't directly affected. Why? Because it sends a clear message on what is and what is NOT acceptable. Be appreciative of the community and respectful to those in it.


Those are the rules of engagement.


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