Thoughts on Digital Self-Publishing (DSP), Series Six
Wootton's First Principle of Digital Self-Publishing – First Build Reputation, Then Earn Revenue – has some corollaries. There are all kinds of ways to build reputation, after all, and all kinds of reputation you could have. When it comes to author reputation, these concepts help us understand what is and is not worth worrying about.
First and foremost, Wheaton's Law. Don't be a dick. Ever. Anywhere.
Always assume that everything you write or say in any public forum, whether live and in-person or online, has a global audience.
I fully anticipate that the outcome of all major political campaigns this decade will depend on which candidates understand this idea and which don't. The Internet is the most powerful publication and distribution platform there's ever been, and it has a long memory. If you're famous, or become famous, long-forgotten things you've said will resurface and circulate. But if you always follow Wheaton's Law, that won't be a problem!
Whenever you find yourself tempted to write something mean, or sarcastic, or terse, or dismissive, or belligerent, or belittling, or mocking: Don't. Bite it back. Walk away from the keyboard. Put the smartphone back in your pocket.
You're a writer, after all. When you use words against someone, it's like an MMA prize fighter beating up... well, you. It looks like bullying to those watching, it feels like being bullied to the person on the receiving end, and it turns you into a bully. Maybe you've noticed – when it comes to reputation, bullies aren't well-regarded. Save your witty skirmishes for friends of your own verbal acuity. Or write them into your stories.
Don't think you can hide behind “anonymity”, either. Nothing you do online is truly anonymous and there's always someone out there with more technical expertise than you. Give the right person a reason to discredit you, and if you've got past embarrassments to hide they'll mysteriously come to light.
Don't use your gift with words to curse other people, or you'll find you've cursed yourself.