Here’s why you should. I see it frequently, if not hear it outright, and although there are times the ability to not GaF is a powerful tool, there are definitely times it is a bad thing. When you get to the point where you stop seeing the people around you as humans, but inanimate objects who are simply obstacles to overcome, you need to GaF. As an author, not giving a damn about readers will get your book outright mocked, if you don’t do everything right. So I decided I needed to make a case against the modern philosophy of IDGaF. It’s self-centered, and self-defeating, when it comes to Indie Publishing. Or trad pub, for that matter.
IDGaF about grammar. I want to use this idiosyncratic notation to indicate certain words mean something. No, I don’t want to use the conventional notation, I already used that for something else and it might confuse readers. Give your readers the benefit of the doubt. They are used to seeing that style of notation, it’s proper grammar. They aren’t going to give the benefit of any doubts to you, dear author, with your ‘groundbreaking innovations’ that look a lot like text speak. They don’t GaF about your crusade to better English grammar by example. They are going to assume you’re ignorant and move on to another book with grammar that looks correct to them.
IDGaF about my book’s cover. My sister/grandma/friend’s-neice’s-daughter-who-is-3 painted that cover art and I’m using it by golly! Or: my main characters look like these famous movie stars and I demand my cover artist use their likenesses in this exact scene representation for my art. Or: I really liked that landscape photo, and it’s free, so I’ll use it for my science fiction novel. Look, I rant on this on the regular. You’ve heard it before, or you should have. Study the freaking genre conventions, and use them. You might not GaF but your readers do, and they like professional covers on their books, especially when they are trying out a new-to-them-author.
IDGaF about promotion. That’s my publishers job, and I shouldn’t have to soil my dainty white hands with it. Oh. Honey. Bless your heart. I don’t care if you have a sweetheart deal with one of the Big Five. You still should learn all you can about promoting your book in an effective way (versus the paragraph below) and put your shoulder behind it and push, push, push. No one, absolutely no one in the world, cares about this book as much as you do.
IDGaF about being an ass. If I want to share my book link in this group where the rules explicitly state that’s a no-no, and by being pushy, I spoil it for all the other authors, who cares? I got my link noticed (and promptly deleted, but someone saw it). I just want to make sure everyone in the world knows I have a book and oh, boo-hoo someone left me a bad review… what do you mean, they didn’t like my grammar? It’s avant garde! Attack, my flying monkeys, swarm! Yeah. You should really GaF when you’re told you’re obnoxious and disliked by readers and authors alike because you never stop promoting. Ever. For one second. Let your fans do that for you. Seriously, while promotion is crucial, you should absolutely pay attention to repeated negative feedback and get an objective opinion on what you’re doing wrong and how to correct it. (The corollary to this is not to pay attention to isolated negative feedback, like I saw a post on a friend’s social media recently grousing about how he should unfriend all authors because they never post anything but ‘buy my book.’ This, to an author who is promoting her first novel release in over a year, and someone who is very low-key about promotion. That wasn’t a bash on her, it was her reaping the seeds sown by someone who was actually being an ass).
IDGaF about business. Muahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaa… *gasp, gasp* Wait. You’re serious? You really don’t care about making money? Well, ok, you probably won’t make any. Not with that attitude. But if you do, have you any idea of the tax implications? Trust me on this one, if you make money, the IRS will GaF. A lot of them. So you need to pay a tiny bit of attention to finances and economics before you publish a book, because surprise! You’re now doing business. Even if you have a publisher, you’re a businessperson, because you’re certainly not their employee and they won’t present you with a W2 later this month. Hie thee over to Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s blog, put some bucks in her tip jar (paypal button on the sidebar) and get a cheap education in the publishing business.
IDGaF about historical accuracy. You think readers are stupid, and won’t catch your glossing over or completely re-writing history. Uh-hunh. Let me educate you on something. They’re going to think you’re stupid right back, and they will not only stop reading, they will point and laugh on social media. You don’t want to be internet famous that way. Do your research, or make it clear you’re writing alternate history. Also, don’t try to remake history into a reflection of modern mores. Some of us *coff* remember history. Or at the very least read source documents extensively. That’s not how it was, and you can’t make it different now. No more than you can decide that ‘gee, I don’t like that genocide was a thing. So I’ll write it out of history.’ Or write the ‘Patriarchy’ into existence so your heroine can nobly fight a thing that wasn’t a real thing at the time you set your story. Historical literacy is alive and well among readers. GaF, or get out.
IDGaF about reviews. Good. Keep on not giving a damn. Reviews are lovely. Having lots of them is desirable. Having lots of only 5 star reviews is not so good, and you shouldn’t GaF about that. Accept that one dude who thinks everything you write is crap, but he keeps following your books and writing sucky reviews every time one comes out… readers, as I said above a few times, are smart cookies. You should let them decide if that’s a legit review, or just some troll with a grudge. They will, and they will read your book if the troll says something stupid like ‘he writes like Heinlein, who sucked so this book sucks too’. You can’t pay for publicity that good. Take it and run. And readers will assume that if all your books only have 5 star reviews, ever, that you are gaming the system. Either having all your friends butter up your book or buying reviews. Either of which will get your reviews deleted, by the way, and making a fuss on facebook about how you have no idea why your reviews all disappeared is going to get you serious side-eye from those of us who know why reviews disappear. But if your reviews stress you out, don’t read them. Have a trusted friend keep an eye on them, if you must, or just ignore them entirely until someone tags you in one and you get a delightful surprise.
Side thought – I’m over at my blog talking about a really cool historical find and the story ideas you can spawn from it. Viking forensics and bodysnatching.
Header: “Time to Run” by Cedar Sanderson