Pros Behaving Badly

I should title this "Potential Pros Behaving Badly," but you might not have checked it out.

This is about BEING PROFESSIONAL. That means following Wil Wheaton's mantra: DON'T BE A DICK.

In this social media age, be aware that editors and agents routinely look up writers submitting work. They can find you on Facebook and Twitter same as any other mortal. If they see you're acting like a knob, they're not going to be keen to deal with you. You've seen this cautionary tale in the news. A worker posts a rant about their boss or company, next thing you know they're clutching a pink slip and schlepping a box of their desk junk out to their car. In the case of writers sending stuff in, the editors are bypassing the threat of all that drama by first looking you over.

Before posting anything that's going to be on the Interwebz-Tweety (FOREVER!!), ask yourself, "Would C.J. Cherryh, Felicia Day, Neil Gaiman, or -- the master of all things Interwebzy! -- George Takei post this?

If the reply is even close to "probably not" then back away and don't make eye contact until you've calmed down.

Yes, you feel strongly about something, but will a flame war change the other person's mind? Does that sort of thing ever work to change your mind?

Yeah, I thought so. Back away, take a breath. Life's too short!

You could be writing instead!

A True Cautionary Tale:

A couple years ago a shiny new pro writer whose shiny new debut novel hit the NYTimes bestseller list shot herself in the foot by getting into a public kerfuffle on Amazon. I learned about it on a writing board, and being nosy, I looked up the Amazon discussion and dropped in daily to read developments.

It began when the writer flew into a hissy fit rage when a reviewer awarded her book a 3-star rating (which is still pretty good and hella-better than a 1 or a 2-star), the author invented a sockpuppet ID and took the reviewer to task for daring to criticize such genius. She made a point of picking apart every comment that she deemed unflattering. You know that kind of argument. Not one escaped her notice or wrath! Grr!

Flame war on!

Before the smoke faded, the sockpuppet was outed (within hours, oh, those pesky and easily traced IP addresses!), feelings were hurt, readers who never heard of the writer swore to never read her books, ever, a batch of 1-star reviews appeared, the writer's literary agent's head exploded, and the publisher wanted nothing more to do with the unprofessional crazyhat. The next book deal didn't happen. (Sales are one thing, but some writers are simply too much trouble.)

In short, the writer behaved like a dick.

You be smarter than that.

Pro or not pro, commercially pubbed or going indie with digital books, YOU BE SMARTER than that!

She's just one example. There are other, far more famous writers who unwisely posted rants and bullied people on their blogs and other public forums -- which is flat out stupid.

You do NOT offend the people who feed you and pay your bills. If you don't like a review, ignore it. Back off and work on the next book.

That writer whose works you loathe might be sitting next to you at a panel talk--or worse, you're seat mates on the flight in to the same event. Stranger things have happened. The cosmos has a wicked sense of humor.

You do not rant against other writers, whatever grievance you might have. You're not in competition. Readers can read our books way faster than we can write them, so belt up and be a pro. Remember that many love your books just as much as they love books by writers you dislike. Slamming that writer only makes you look bad.

You can't please everyone. So suck it up, do not engage in being a dick, and focus on your writing.

That's all that really matters!

Now go forth. BE AWESOME!!