Cedar had an interesting post yesterday over at the Mad Genius Club (I actually missed the original post because I’ve been buried by basketball and finishing a book) and after reading it, I got to thinking (run! hide the women and children! he had two brain cells crash into one another on accident!) about professionalism in the publishing industry and how technology has changed the way it works.
I’ve been watching author interaction with fans now for over 7 years, mainly because I wanted to learn how to interact with my fans (all twelve of you… hey guys!) and what not to do. Then it dawned on me that I probably shouldn’t air my grievances against a publisher out in public (this is…. wise, one would think). This should be common sense but then you throw in the whole Internet thing and suddenly common sense takes a backseat to raging on a keyboard at the world.
Too often these days people forget about decorum because they are protected by the anonymity of online interactions. The web can protect folks from repercussions of their words online and gives people a false sense of courage. It’s easy to slam someone when hiding behind a firewall. It’s far more difficult to do it in person, to their face. There’s always the off-chance that calling someone a foul name to their face will get you kicked in the nuts.
One of the things I fall into the trap of is reading about when people are piling on an individual about some stupid thing they said or did online and nodding along, saying “Yep, they deserve what they’re getting right now.” It’s not really fair because, more often than not, what was posted was probably in the heat of the moment and the person wasn’t thinking clearly through their rage. I’ve been there, done that, copyrighted the hell out of it, so I understand completely.
So when Cedar talked about professionalism, I was kinda taken aback by the tone of some of the commentators on the private forum who had saved the epic rage-quit letter in question.
I felt that too many people wanted to revel in glee at the misfortune of the person in question (seriously, go read Cedar’s piece. It’s pretty good) and focus on the negativity, instead of feeling sorry for the author who felt that a rage-letter to her publisher was the way to go. I’ve seen many careers in the past go down in flames because of letters like that. Nowadays? Not so much, because most authors understand that everything they do online stays online. Publishers also understand this, though to a lesser extent. Authors talk to one another, as do publishers. It’s very easy to find oneself under a blacklist when you bad mouth a publisher (alternatively, piling on another seems to benefit others, but that still doesn’t make it right).
While I haven’t always been pleased with some of my past publishers and how they treated me, I kept my grievances mostly private. I’ve warned a few authors away who I felt may have been harmed in their business dealings with those publishers, but overall I simply let it be. It doesn’t help me one bit to attack someone who I don’t like or have worked with in the past.
Now, I know I’m not perfect. Sometimes when I get all worked up and pissed off I will go on a warpath (the Empress Theresa incident is a good example), but I do try to avoid this. In private, at home? With my cats staring at me like I’m insane? Oh yeah. They know how I feel. But everyone else? Nope. That stays between me and the cats (who were probably ignoring me anyways, so I’m good there).
What do you think? Should authors publicly call out publishers and other authors who they dislike or feel as if they’ve been wronged by?
2 thoughts on “Wronged Way”
One of the comments had a good point that sometimes “professionalism” is used as a club to prevent authors from airing legit grievances with a publisher/organization. But I would say that there’s a difference between the tone of the ragequit letter I referred to, and, say, an essay on Preditors and Editors. Keeping the passion out of that conversation can’t be easy, but it will make a huge difference in public perception.
Except Mercedes went on to Rage-quit Baen and the only reason she is back with Baen is because Jim Baen passed away. Just like the only reason Stirling is back with Baen after his voluntary departure is that Toni only cares about putting out good books.