Monday, November 1, 2010

It's a Small World--Help Keep It Clean

By Grace Bradley, EC editor

Despite how large the publishing industry seems, in actuality it is very, very small. This business relies heavily on networking—Facebook, Twitter, blogs, personal relationships—and as a result we are all very well connected. This is an excellent thing…most of the time. We become so comfortable in our own little “bubbles”, not thinking for a moment that what we say outright (meaning what we type) or imply will go far beyond the regular visitors to our blogs, our friends on Facebook and our followers on Twitter. Remember the part about personal relationships? That’s where your personal business ends up receiving a much larger audience than you intended.

A recent incident led me to write this blog. I received an email from someone in my network (which is extensive—when you’ve been in this business for a while you get to know a lot of people) who thought I might find something “interesting”. She had been directed to a particular blog by someone in her network because that person thought she would find the little tidbit “interesting”. Without going into detail, the blog in question aired some insecurities an author had, along with the author’s personal take on what led her to be in that position. Not only was her perception of reality not quite on the mark, but to make matters worse, negative comments followed—none of them made anonymously. So I’m sure you can see how this downward spiral is forming. I am now aware of several authors’ general negativity and harsh comments about an industry they are a part of. If I were a writer, I wouldn’t want my name associated with negative thoughts or actions because Big Brother is watching. But that’s just me.

The publishing business is tough and anyone who is in it knows it requires a tough skin. You must be able to accept criticism, constructive though it may be, on something you’ve poured your heart into. You have to be able to accept “no” when everything in you is screaming, “yes, yes, yes” (you’re thinking about an orgasm right now, aren’t you?). You have to adhere to your publisher’s policies, your editor’s schedule, your editor’s evaluation of your work, even if you don’t agree. You have to be flexible and understand that unforeseen changes occur in business and you have to roll with those changes.

Are you allowed to be frustrated, heartbroken, incensed? Absolutely. We’re all human, after all. Should you post these reactions in public? Absolutely not. Remember how small this big industry is. So share your concerns with a friend, a spouse, a fellow writer (via email or on the phone, please), the poor soul who is unfortunate enough to be stuck behind you in a long line at the grocery store (of course, assuming they aren’t in the industry…just how small can it be, right?). And the best solution? Take your concerns to your editor or publisher. I know that I would much rather have an author express their concern directly to me so that I have an opportunity to ease their distress and do what I can to reassure and help them.

If you take anything away from what I’ve written, it should be this: Do not publicly post anything you would not want your editor or publisher (or authors and readers you don’t know) to see. While editors don’t spend our time trolling the net looking for “authors behaving badly”—we simply don’t have the time or desire—Google Alerts set to our publishing house and networking contacts are quick to point out what we’re missing while busy working on your books. My best advice? Keep it clean, people. :-)


Denise Friend said...

Good advice! I think it's easy to forget that our blogs/websites are not our own personal diaries. Thanks for reminding us.

Cat Grant said...

The Internet is forever - even if you delete something, the wayback machine can find it. My personal philosophy is, don't post anything you wouldn't want to see splashed across the front page of the New York Times.

Regina Carlysle said...

I'm continually blown away by folks who take their gripes and complaints onto a public forum. There are some blogs out there who continually bash and authors blithely comment at these forums. I've just made it a policy to not even visit them. As to my own personal blogs? I give my readers a good idea of who I am as a person and sometimes tell funny 'family type' stories but certainly nothing that is personal. It's just not a good idea to put super private stuff, gripes and complaints out into cyber world. It reflects badly.

Wynter said...

I've seen this sort of thing around the social networking community and it makes me shake my head. Your advice holds for any business.

Katie Reus said...

I'm usually a blog lurker but this is fabulous advice :)