Have you ever participated in a forum before?
I have done it a few times in the past--quickly discovering that it wasn't for me. But I really like the Kindle Forums (as I'm sure you can tell by now), and as I was reading through one today, I found a signature at the bottom of a post that really caught my eye.
It caught my eye so much, in fact, that I was inspired to write an entire post about it on the Kindle forum (my first ever--and boy, was I nervous... So nervous that I actually forgot to make my point in my post and had to go back and redo it...). You can read it at "How Your Signature Did (or Didn't) Make Me Buy Your Book", but I'll summarize it for you.
I talked about Katie Klein's signature, and how it had caught my eye (read about that two posts below). Then I talked about another author's signature, and how her book's hook had drawn me in. I said I wasn't insulting people who just used their book covers as their signature, but as a reader, their book cover tells me nothing about their book. I don't know the genre. I don't know the type of book. I don't know anything.
It's not like a bookstore, you know, where you can head straight to your area and go, "Yay! All these books are in my genre!" Or a search on Amazon/B&N, where you're only within your realm. This is a general forum covering all sorts of topics. Your signature can be a powerful thing, but only if you use it right.
The first two responses were very positive, and I was pleased. I was glad that I had taken the time to share that with the authors out there, maybe who were as unsure about this whole process as I was.
But then I got one response that almost made me want to stop posting on forums altogether. Again. The opinion itself wasn't bad (she said she preferred just to look at titles) but then added in a thinly veiled dig at me and my signature, which is only a line of text on the forum, as I haven't started any book promotion over there yet.
I was appalled. Hurt. Angry. Upset. Flustered. Confused. "Why," I asked my husband, when he read the comment, "did she feel the need to be mean just because she disagreed with me?"
"Some people are just like that," was his response. "You should really read the WoW forums sometime, honey."
Now, maybe I'm just taking it personally. Maybe she was offering constructive criticism and I'm just super sensitive. If she had said something in her comment about my signature, I would have explained why my signature is the way it is. But she didn't. She thinly veiled an insult. And it hurt. (Also, how much of an idiot would I be to write a post about signatures and how they can sell books and not even follow my own advice if I wanted to? That's just silly.)
I chose to ignore the comment, and many people replied after with positive comments of appreciation for my thoughts. I've already noticed a difference around the forum, which has been wonderful. (I'M LIKE A GOD. ... joke.) I even clicked on, and purchased, some books I hadn't previously, just because I know more about them now.
So... Do you participate in forums? Do you find people take what you say the wrong way, or find that you're attacked for your opinions? Do you fight back or just let it go? Do you worry about what you write, concerned that someone will take it the wrong way (because someone always seems to)? Or do you just write whatever you feel like writing and worry about explaining yourself later?