Story time about Christian authors!
So, this past week I was reading about the importance of backlinks and sharing links to external sources, as it helps Google identify what your site is about, as well as benefiting the owner of the external site with a backlink. A win-win for everyone. I was like, cool, that’s awesome. Nothing new learned here, but a great reminder that it’s something I should seek out to do.
I write as an independent author who has chosen, purposely, not to pursue a traditional publishing book deal. I like having creative control. And I know how important it is to have your work shared, re-tweeted and pinned by others. So the other day after reading that article online about backlinks I decided to do something nice and beneficial for everyone. I was going to open up a page on my site and share the work of others and give them that opportunity to be seen by my visitors.
After writing some personal messages to my contacts, I invited them to share their link and a quick snippet with me. Nothing long or complicated, just a link and a snippet. My inbox got overwhelmed and bombarded with messages. By and large, my contacts and friends were entirely supportive and excited that I offered some of my domain space to mention them on my site. For some, I had made their day. Others were glad to hear from me and get a personal note. What was shocking, however, was how a specific group of people responded to me.
I was belittled. Chastised. Looked down upon. Questioned. It was the equivalent of having someone look down their nose at you. I also received some veiled, thin responses.
And this was a group of people that I would not expect this type of treatment from. The Christian Authors. You know, the authors that have a God-centered focus? The ones that focus on Biblical teachings to love thy neighbor and treat those how they would like to be treated? Yeah. Everyone else was positive, receptive, shared, and expressed gratitude except for the majority of authors in this particular genre. Why?
Some of the emails I received were actually rather rude. Some had replied with “I would never put my book on the same page as a book about smut.” After giving many an additional gift of some templates and graphics I had created, I got messages like “I don’t want that. I only want you to post my book and advertise it. That’s it.” Wow. The entitlement some of these authors exhibit is just… wow.
Since when do we reject the gifts of others? Is this what Christian authors do to people at Christmas time? Reject gifts? Dictate how a kind gesture is to be executed?
I was criticized for the use of the word “karma” by a few people. I had used it as an expression. No religious intent, but rather, spreading positive feelings and goodness around. And some people took issue with a word often associated with another religion, and actually refused to allow their book to be featured on the same page as another non-Christian author, a Hindu author who I have come to enjoy reading.
There were some “I will decline.”, “Thanks but no.”, “Your site clearly isn’t Christian.” (Like, what is that supposed to mean?) and “What qualifies you to teach a non-fiction writers course?” replies. As if to say I wasn’t qualified to have a course with my array of publications, books and existing courses that I have rave reviews on. No one needs permission to teach a course, I might add. It’s not like you need a certification in today’s online course market.
Keep in mind, this adventure I set out on of reaching out and connecting with other writers like me was intended only set out to help other authors and bloggers, because I know how tough it is out there. I was willing to share some of my domain space, which gets a LOT of traffic from Pinterest, and I belong to a lot of tribes, so it was a perfect way to have some authors gets some click-throughs and maybe even some book sales. After all, Pinterest users have 18% higher disposable income than non-pinners.
What I found in the Christian authors community was shocking. Not everyone was quite so haughty in their response from this group of people, but out of 22 of them that I encountered, 19 of them were less than receptive and kind of rude. Would it kill them to say “Oh, hey, that’s nice of you to offer” or “Thanks so much for considering me!”? Nope.
Is this a genre-specific attitude the Christian authors have with other authors and writers? Snotty? The thinking that they’re somehow better than the rest of the writers because they write on God-focused material? Because gosh. I was not at all impressed by people I encountered who advertise themselves to be Christians. I found that the Science Fiction, romance, and writers of zombie stories to be solidly entertaining, full of words of gratitude and fellowship, and genuine. Authentic. And most importantly, simply kind.
I am a Christian, too. But I don’t shove it down peoples’ throats or use my business emails to promote that fact. I feel it’s a personal matter. And just because I support all authors (including erotica) does not mean that Christian authors can’t be listed on the same page as them. It’s like being in the same room as an erotica author. You can get along just fine and discover commonalities without judging others. The Christian books are not “better” or “above” erotica authors. After all, wasn’t Jesus forgiving of a prostitute?
I never force anyone to share their links on my page. It’s completely optional and it was merely an invitation to share with my visitors. But remember the intention – it was an invite to share. To be discovered by my audience. Not an invite for them to criticize me, my work, or put down the works of others.
Here’s a few key tips on interacting with others in the author community:
– Kindness is a choice.
– How you respond to someone can make or break your author career.
– If you want to have a good reputation, avoid starting pissing matches.
– If you’re a Christian fiction author, you are not better than a romance writer who writes erotica or sex scenes.
– If you’re a female Christian author, be sure you’re raising up other female authors, no matter what they choose to write. Women support women. They don’t tear them down.
– If you’re a Christian romance author, still support the work of non-Christian authors. Your religion or spiritual choices are not superior to anyone else’s.
So to those of you that were excited, grateful, and exchanged not just one but a few emails with me to help this Internet world seem like a smaller, more friendlier place, THANK YOU! You make me proud to be writing right along with you and you’re more than welcome to seek me out for any help at any time.
THANK YOU for being good receivers.
THANK YOU for returning my email.
THANK YOU for corresponding and talking to me. I appreciate it, and I’m happy to share my space with you. Friendship online means a great deal to me, and I’m happy to call you a friend.
Also published on Medium.