THIS BLOG POST CONTAINS CRUDE, UNSAVORY LANGUAGE THAT IS NOT SAFE FOR WORK AND/OR CHILDREN.
That title was nice and vague, wasn't it? There's a reason for that, and it's because I only want the truest of the true fans to read this blog post. If someone's just read Alone or Defender for the first time and doesn't really know anything about my work, y'know, you probably want to keep reading the books. If you've just stumbled in here looking for a videogame or movie review...uh...you're about a year too late. (I should do more of those, though, shouldn't I? No, you're right, I should stick to writing fiction.)
Anyway, I'm in a bit of a rough spot here, because there are things going on behind the scenes that I haven't really wanted to delve into a ton of detail on, but I still feel like they bear explaining. So I'm going to do that here, where I know my most dedicated fans go, where I get a fractional amount of the traffic I get to my Facebook page, where I'm up to 900 likes.
That doesn't sound like a lot, but a year ago at this time I had like...50, I think. Maybe 100. There are new people flowing in every day (and some flowing out, according to my insights page). This is good news (not the outflow, really - I had four people unlike my page on July 1st. Why? I don't know. I didn't even post anything the week before that, it can't be that I offended them) to be expanding, to have a constant cycling in of new fans, because, I mean, that's the objective, right? To grow a fanbase, to sell more books? Last year at this time I hadn't even sold 1,000 books, last month I sold just a touch under 10,000 (again).
This naturally is going to bring with it some growing pains. They really shouldn't be a big issue, but they are because I'm a compulsive crazy person who is a little OCD about certain things. The best way to explain this is that there was this minor character in the last season of Angel (the TV series about the vampire) who would freak out whenever people would ask him a question.
Now, I'm not so bad you can't ask me a question, as many of you can attest. My problem kicks in when people ask me the same question or make the same comment over and over. This shouldn't be a problem. They're new people in most cases, it's not like they're asking the same question over and over again, but because my fan page has gotten SO BIG (900 isn't really that big, but it feels big to me since I've been here from the beginning when it was just me, and because I try and answer everyone) I can't keep track of everyone anymore, so it feels like the same people are asking me the same question over and over again. And it's finally gotten to the point where I just need to take certain steps to control my social media interactions for the sake of continuing to grow a fanbase. Like, it will do better in my absence, because clearly I'm not able to handle it properly at this point. It doesn't cause me to freak out, exactly, but it wears me out and affects my energy level far more than it should considering it's a fairly simple question or comment (When will the next book in _____ series come out?) or (WRITE FASTER). It even has an easy answer, which is "Go here, read this." (There is no easy answer for "Write Faster," just a steady stream of profanities I mutter under my breath every time I see that fucking phrase.) But I literally cannot get myself to answer it anymore, not in a polite way. So instead I've just started ignoring that question whenever someone asks it, and that comment, whenever someone makes it. Yeah, it's rude. I actually do feel bad about it. But I know you all want me to save my sanity (or whatever little is left at this point, obvs not much) for the next books.
It's pretty unfair for me to do this, I realize, because these fans are basically telling me, "I love your work. I can't wait to find out what you do next. When will I be able to do that?" But my mind doesn't read it in that way. It reads the questions and comments as, "WHY DON'T YOU WRITE FASTER, YOU SORRY, LAZY FUCKER!?" And it all goes downhill from there, (in my crazy head of course).
Anyway, as always, I'm letting you know here, where only the dedicated will read it. I've been hesitant to post anything at all about this, but I couldn't let it pass. Here's why I was hesitant, though - BECAUSE I DON'T WANT ANYONE TO SAY ANYTHING ABOUT THIS ON FACEBOOK. Charlotte Chennoufi, who I dearly love for her avatar of Beaker, took up my defense on this right after the release of Enemies, and while I so appreciated her saying it, I saw immediately why it CAN NEVER BE ADDRESSED in a major public forum. It's because new people aren't aware that it's a problem, and it has huge potential for disaster and hurt feelings. I want people to feel good about me, about my books, about their experience around them in total, including on my Facebook page, my Twitter account, and any forums that carry my name. I don't want arguments, or any unpleasantness. The reason I have to step away a little is because them feeling like "Robert J. Crane is just too big, he probably doesn't have time to deal with every email or post or tweet that comes his way" is far better than getting bruised feelings and hating me because I or someone acting in what they perceive to be my best interests causes them to have an experience that is in ANY way unpleasant.
Up until now, there are a LOT of you that I know by name. I've even put together the links between your FB profiles, Goodreads profiles, Amazon reviews, Twitter, etc. I have a pretty good memory for piecing that stuff together and trotting it out later (to the point where I think I have scared a few people by knowing "too much" or more than I should) and it's been helpful to me in doing things that I hope have helped you feel like you have a personal connection with me as an author. I try, anyway. The circle is getting pretty big at this point, though, and it's less and less easy for me to add new people to it because of everything I have to remember. I've enjoyed it, especially the interaction here on the blog because where Facebook can feel like a concert hall, the blog is more like a theater in the round or a small bar where I can take questions from the audience. It's easier on me, a guy that can't handle parties because there are too many people.
Anyway, what does all this ultimately mean? I don't know, long term. I got some really good advice from a friend to step away for a bit, so I have and it's helped. Maybe it'll get easier in time, maybe my crazy brain will stop taking it so personally. For now, though, I won't be posting as many updates about progress on upcoming works as I used to, because that's the number one trigger for the questions/comments. As a result I'll probably be posting less overall on Facebook, because outside of that stuff I don't have that much to share. I doubt it'll impact my Twitter presence, because almost nobody talks to me on there. Seriously. 300+ followers and only a handful a week engage in any questions, and most of them are my writer friends. I think the 140 character limit really cuts down on the interlocution.
Bottom line, I'm still focusing on writing, I'm just having to cut out a little of the stuff I used to do because I just can't do it now. Just can't. Doesn't make logical sense, it just is. But especially for all those of you who have been around and are wondering, "What happened to him?" I didn't want you to think I just abandoned you. If you send me an email or post on my FB page or here on the blog, I will still answer it - as long as it's not "Write faster!" or "When does ____ come out?" because YOU KNOW BETTER <evil eye>.
And PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE - whatever you do, if you see someone say one of those things, don't answer it for me. (And it almost goes without saying, PLEASE don't hammer them into oblivion for daring to ask.) I don't even want you to link to this blog post. I know you would mean well, but just...don't. It would be better not to set a precedent of fans answering those questions, because however well it might start, I have a feeling sooner or later it would not end pretty. I just want to avoid that, so...I'll just glass over it all for now, until I feel like I can handle it again.
But for now, I need to get back to channeling my energies (and that last little ounce of sanity) to writing books.
Because, ultimately, however much you might like me as a conversationalist, or having me interact with you on a fan page, I think you'll be a lot happier getting the next book, and the next, so you can know how the story turns out. Without that, I'm just some crazy guy who freaks out when you ask him the same questions over and over.