Navigating the Comment Section (For Authors)

Subtitle: The comment section is generally a swirling vortex of doom. But not always? 

As a writer I’ve read countless articles on how important it is to build a platform and make strong connections online. Here’s an example from Writer’s Digest: http://www.writersdigest.com/writing-articles/by-writing-goal/get-published-sell-my-work/how-to-build-your-author-platform

Someday I would love writing to be my “real job” so I take these articles very seriously. I have a blog. I have twitter. I have Instagram. I have LinkedIn. But sometimes I struggle with how to use these tools effectively. It seems like navigating all of these different social media platforms is a full time job. Also, thinking about delving into the murky world of the comment section terrifies me. Has anyone else ever read a perfectly good article or watched an amusing youtube video then suddenly found themselves trapped in the swirling vortex of doom that is the comment section? The level of absurdity, hatred, and incompetent argument found in the comment section leads me to avoid it like the plague (because if I don’t and I get sucked in to the swirling vortex I stay there for hours and get more and more heated. Also I probably lose countless amounts of brain cells). Needless to say, I am wary of making comments on anything.

According to my research (very formal scientific research might I add) there are two types of comments. Ok this is a lie, but for the purposes of my argument there are two relevant types of comments.

1. The hateful/absurd/ argumentative drivel generally found in Youtube comment sections and on any of the articles/videos ect found on Facebook. I’m not sure who these commenters are or why they’re commenting in the first place. Maybe they like getting into comment wars? Or they have nothing better to do? Maybe they really just like to share their highly unpopular opinion in very public places? Whatever the reason, these types of comments are occasionally amusing and generally ignored by intelligent human beings. I am ALWAYS wary to comment in these areas (youtube videos, informative or humorous articles) for fear of being seen as this type of commenter.

comment section

2. The second type of comment: slightly more well meaning commenters that are trying to get something out of their comment. For this post I’m referring specifically to people who make comments on the blogs and social media platforms of literary agents, published authors, publishers ect. These comments say things like: please read my amazing novel. Or, more innocently: I think you would love my new novel! Not all of these comments are harmful. Many of these commenters are doing what I want to do, make connections with people in the writing/editing/publishing world. But not all of these comments hit the mark. Some of them are so obviously just commenting because they want something from whomever’s page they’re commenting on. I also really don’t want to be this type of commenter.

Ok I didn’t mention it earlier but there is a third type of commenter. This is the perfect commenter who is honestly interested and moved by whatever is is they’re commenting on and have interesting things to say about it. This is the type of commenter I would like to be. I want to make genuine connections with other writers and other people that love books. Be they literary agents, editors, or publishers. Sometimes this includes commenting on those people blog posts or social media platforms. BUT I’m so scared of being one of the first two types of commenters that I hesitate to comment at all. I don’t want to be seem as someone that is only commenting because I want something from the person.

So how do you engage with people and make intelligent comments without being annoying or presumptuous? How do you let people know: I’m really just interested in connecting with you because we share the same interests. I read stories about people who have wonderful and close-knit groups of internet friends. I also know that there is a huge writer community out there looking to make connections just like I am. Because lets face it, writing can be lonely. I want to make those connections AND build a writer platform but I don’t want people to think I’m only commenting or reaching out BECAUSE I want to build my author platform and because some Writer’s Digest article told me to. Does anyone have any advice for new authors trying to join the community?

Also, happy Friday!

Furthermore, I discovered this wonderful Twitter feed all about avoiding the comment section. Check it out @AvoidComments