Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Inconsiderate Writers

"Who me? I'm not in a click!"

There's more than a "good ol' boys" club when it comes to writers and editors. There's something going on that reminds me of getting accepted by the popular clicks in high school. Writers who ignore, disrespect, and simply snub other writers and their work. I happen to be "friends" with many writers on Facebook, but there are those few writers who seldom post comments of encouragement or offer up words on any other writer's wall. Well. Other than those in their click. (I know, it's often spelled clique, but for this blog post, it's click.)

Now we all get busy, we all have deadlines, and it's not possible to post every day and on every wall. But it's become obvious to me. Some writers love appealing to their readers, but have nothing to do with other writers.

Good God. High School was over decades ago for most of us.

It's not only happening on Facebook. I was asked to speak on a writers panel last year at a very prestigious book conference. There were three female writers on this panel, and unfortunately, I was last to speak. The first writer began to read from her new novel. Thirty minutes into her reading I was about to slip a note to the moderator that said, "Are you going to ask her to stop, or do I have to?" During her reading, half the class had left the room, which meant by the time it was my turn to talk about my novel ... there may have been ten people who were brave enough to stay, and about fifteen minutes left before the class ended.

I was furious. But I kept my mouth shut, smiled, and congratulated each author for their work. Months later, I feel it's necessary to talk about writer etiquette, and plain ol' consideration for the other guy. Kindness. Caring. Selflessness.

I've been watching these writer Facebook clicks closely since I woke up one day to realize, that green-eyed monster still lurks among us long after that cap and gown ceremony. It hit me hard between the eyes when I went after blurbs for my latest novel.

If you are ever asked to blurb another writer’s book, I want you to look back and remember your own path …

That author who contacted you obviously believed your name and your words would help the success of their book. They contacted you for a reason. It’s an honor and not to be taken lightly. So when I hear of authors ignoring other writer’s request for a blurb, it makes my blood boil.

You may be busier than a one-armed paperhanger with no time to read even a few sentences of another writer’s work. That’s fine. Understandable. I get it. I’ve been there. But you take the time to return the email, letter, phone call, or Facebook message, and give that writer the courtesy of two minutes of your time. Simply explain why you cannot write a blurb at this time. Easy. Two minutes.

It seems to me, if you’ve been blessed enough to have made it to the top, it's your obligation to turn around, offer your hand, and lift somebody up. It may only be a word of encouragement, but the least you do is offer a heartfelt apology for not being able to read the writer’s work. Their work that that contains the same blood, sweat, and tears that you’ve put into your own work.

Never forget; never forget where you came from, who you are, and the humble spirit you must hold to your heart; a humble spirit to see you throughout your success as a writer. For if you ever lose your humble spirit, then you have no right to complain if the "hand of God" lifts.

There is nothing ruder in this business, nothing more tragic and full of narcissism, than when a writer ignores the direct message, email, or letter from another writer. True, computers crash, emails get lost, people get sick … but when weeks have passed and all of sudden you realize you’ve got an email or message from another author, answer it. There’s no excuse. Kindness changes everything.

I’ve received warm and caring responses, both positive and negative, from NY Times Bestselling authors, as well as other wonderful authors. I’ve also been ignored by some big names in the industry, and strangely enough, some not so big names. I can tell you in all honesty, for those who couldn’t give me the courtesy of return email or Facebook message, I will probably not buy another one of their books or invest any further time in reading their blog or FB posts. But that’s just me. I would never name them, never defame another writer. I leave them to their own conscience.

But those who wrote or called back, regardless of their answer, I immediately fell in love with them, if I wasn’t already. It was the fact that they cared enough to return my email or facebook message. Two minutes. That’s all it took. Two minutes out of their day. For those two minutes they freely gave me, I will continue to read and recommend their work. And I can tell you; I’m not the only writer who feels this way.

Isn’t it the decent thing to do? Isn’t a kind reputation worth two minutes of your time?

We are never that good, never that big, that we have the right to be unkind, uncaring, and plain disrespectful to other writers.
And for crying out loud, you're no longer in high school. Grow up. Offer a little word of encouragement to your Facebook "FRIENDS" ... Writers are ALSO consumers. Never forget that.


B. J. Robinson said...

I love you writing and would always be honored to write a blurb for another writer, especially another Southern writer, since I write Southern novels, unless the book is full of graphic sex or something. If that were the case, I'd explain that the book does not fit my genre or something. Sometimes life calls, but there is no reason to be rude or mean-spirited. Loved your post.

Karen Dishman Jantzi said...

Pam, I think its an honor to be asked to endorse another author's work. I have found writers to be some of the most helpful people on the planet. Like you were the day we first talked, I so appreciated your willingness to help me and it was a great encouragement to me at a time I wasn't sure what I was doing. Be the light! That's what we are when we write and we need to be that to one another. Love you!

Lynn said...

If we had a physical building to go to every day, I'd be the first one stuffed in a locker by the more popular, gum-chewing crowd :)

Good post, Pam.

Pamela King Cable said...

Thanks, BJ, Karen, and Lynn. I know you are all there for me as I am for you. Your comments moved me to tears. Thanks, again.