Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Oh No They Didn't...

I’m an observer of life. I think this is why I’m a writer because there’s so much going on around me that I must take it all in.

It’s not uncommon for me to turn to my hubby and say “Did you see what that woman just did?” And most times he won’t. That’s okay. He’s not an observer.

I am.

To this end, I’ve been shocked at what I’ve observed around the web in this week. It wasn’t big, newsworthy items, just smallish things that I’ve seen in the writing community.

An author I formerly respected has built herself into quite a spectacle on a social networking site and seems to be her own biggest fan. That’s okay for her but for me, a potential reader, it’s annoying and off-putting. To “read” her, you’d think she ranked right up there with Mother Theresa. Excuse me. I think just vomited a little in my mouth. Have I bought her book yet? Nope. Still deciding. After all, I can wait months until it comes down to a decent price, but I have decided to drop her from my acquaintance base on the site.

Enough is enough.

Another person, respected in the publishing world, had a big old-fashioned hissy fit on a social networking site this weekend. It doesn’t matter what side of the issue she falls on. The fact remains that she demonstrated less than professional restraint by beating the issue into the ground. Does it affect the way I see this person? Maybe, but then, I’m not impressed by titles and who a person thinks they are. To my way of thinking, respect is earned—not automatically given. Is it disappointing? Yes, but not unexpected. Fame and notoriety is addicting and some people love the power.

Moving on.

And still a third person, and a writer to boot, seems to be a literary “groupie”. You know the type. The ones who follow the “popular, best-selling” authors or agents and editors around the web, comment on their every little thing, post on their blogs, forums, whatever, rave when these folks spit out a wad of gum, etc. Really? I’d say you nailed the whole sycophantic thing. Good job. There might be a restraining order—or four—in your future.

Yes, every person in these instances is human. I get that. We all are, we’re curious, we want to be liked, to fit in and we make mistakes. We’ve all been in these exact situations. The key is to live and learn from them--and don't repeat them.

So what’s my point in doing this blog post? Well, here it is. If I’m noticing these things, you can bet other people have noticed them as well.

Whether we want to believe it or not—and maybe we forget from time to time—but once we have a book published, or we’re a blogger, agent, editor, publisher or anyone else involved in this very small writing community, we’re "out there". In the public eye. In front of our peers, readers and potential bosses--and yes, an editor and publisher is a boss.

We're all being observed.

It’s vital to behave with respect at all times, no matter how much of a fan-girl or boy we want to be, no matter how cheesed off at the world we’ve been, no matter how wonderful we think we are, people are watching and they’re taking note.

And they’re forming opinions and making decisions.

In this day and age, when money is tight and admiration is hard to come by, we need to handle our public identity with grace, dignity and common sense. The world won’t come to an end if we don’t announce to everyone the subject of our current angst. Do it sparingly. This community does rally together around a common complaint, but know when to draw the line and walk away. Sometimes silence is the better part of valor.

Show your love of a good book, but don’t get too chummy with the author. Bond with the movers and shakers in the business but don’t become a nuisance. Comment and walk (or surf) away. Realize you don’t actually walk on water and you will sink if you try.

Always remember, I’m watching you—and so are others.


Annie Nicholas said...

And remember what you say on the web STAYS on the web. It's hard to erase something you've posted.

Nice post, Sandi.

Terry Spear/Terry Lee Wilde said...

Oooh, I love your blog header, Sandra, too cool!

About being out there with the blogging world:

I had included a picture of my new cover for a book and was thrilled about it, plus mentioned about a vampire romantic suspense that I was giving for free in my newsletter. Now, it's not coming out the way I had planned, not enough space, etc, and I apologized to fans for cutting off the chapter in the middle of it when I thought it had all been sent.

But what happened next really shocked me. My editor for my wolf series read my blog (which has at most 30 hits a day, no big following, no big deal, but I have 3-4 people that comment a day and are fans who have become friends so I'm dedicated to writing on it daily). My editor asked to see the book. I'm still in shock. Which goes to show you really are "out" there when posting blogs and you might think no one is really paying any attention to you at all.

The moral of the story is watch what you post. It can come back to bite you. Or it might get just the right kind of attention that you never dreamed of. :)

Good luck with your writing, Sandra! The journey is fraught with conflict and fun!

Sandra Sookoo said...

Thanks Annie :-) It's very true.

Thanks Terry! I do a few posts a week around the web and always wonder if there is anyone reading, especially my personal blog where I get little to no hits. My theory is if I can touch one person, then it's worth it :-) Good luck with the book!

Wendy Marcus said...

Hi Sandi!
I don't twitter. There. I said it. I'm too busy writing and blogging and having a life to add one more distraction. But recently, on a blog I used to frequent, a published author went off on a recent RWR article about new writers and promotions. She bashed new writer blogs and business cards and new writers' attempts to stand out in a crowd. But short of stalking and inappropriate behavior, isn't it all about getting noticed? There are thousands of good writers out there. What sets us each apart from the crowd? Does she not remember how difficult it is for a new writer to get published? Anyway, my point, this author's post angered me. I came close to commenting about how insulted I felt. Luckily I gave myself a night to think it over. I actually lost sleep over it. But in the morning decided not to. I just stopped visiting her blog.
WendyM GIAMx4

Ashley said...

Hey Sandi

Awesome blog, I have noticed a few eeyore's in the bunch and if they had good stories I don't know if I could pick it up because the negitive vibe is too harsh for me.

I never know how much to say or when it is appropriate to say it because well I'm not a big talker, weird huh LOL!!!

I try to be as friendly as I can be and bubbly and I try to encourage all of the writers I know because actually whether we like it or not, we are each others promo peeps. If that makes sense. I think fighting or what have you, really makes you and also makes your publisher look bad...for me anyway. Why?

Here is my thing, if you have an author who doesn't pay attention to their fans, (which I know now is hard to do every day) and then complains about not getting anything written, and said fans see it, it will leave them with a bad taste in their mouth, and wonder if the publisher is the same way. One bad apple can spoil the bunch...right?

I have a few author friends and I say hi every so often or we talk but I don't go all fan girl squeeing up and down halls or anything, heck I think I scared Christine Harris when I told her my Chey liked Sam and Eric. LOL!!! Oh well.

But I get your point and I will try to live up to it, just don't write me off if I slip up sometimes! LOL!!!!


Terry Spear/Terry Lee Wilde said...

Sandi, I didn't used to get hardly any hits, if any at all. But when I began blogging regularly, and every once in a while posting a link on loops to contest giveaways, and also, I began following other blogs, I started drawing more of a crowd. It still is not many and remember, if you don't get many comments, it doesn't mean people are not enjoying your blog posts, just blog about what you love to blog about! :) I did sexy Santas for Christmas, and picked up a whole lot of readers. LOL :) But a lot read my posts because they love my wolf pictures. So if you can have a theme to "sell," sometimes that will help to garner readers.

Wendy, we have to start somewhere, and she did too. Unless she was an overnight success. A lot of editors want to know what you're doing to encourage a "fan" base before you even sell. One author sold based on her huge amount of readers---she posted a tip site. That was the selling point for the publisher. Before I ever sold, I already had a website. And it helps to be able to list this with your query letter. :) Good luck with your writing, and promote away! :)

Sandra Sookoo said...

Thanks for coming by Wendy. Yes, it's all about getting noticed and there's nothing wrong with that. But it's a fine line about being noticed and becoming obnoxious :-) Moderation is the key.

Thanks Ash! Keeping the online presence in check will be good in the long run :-) Yes, we all slip up every once in awhile. We're human. :-)

P.L. Parker said...

You go girl! I loved this - right on point.

StephB said...

Wow, Sandra, honestly, I never gave this much thought. I do try to be pleasent in all I say and do and if I read something I like, I'm not afraid to let someone know, but I wonder know...

Promotion and social networks are new to me so this is good to be aware of.


carrie said...

good post sandi! and oh so true....if you don't want the world to read it, don't post it on the net!


J Hali said...

LOL, what Annie said. Nice reminder about how social networking works.

Charisma Knight said...

Hi Sandi ~ Awesome post. I have not said "hello" to you in quite some time.

I agree with everything you've had to say. I network, perhaps not as often as I should. Heck, I'm rarely on Facebook, and when I'm on there, I'll take the time to chat with a few readers and authors and I'm gone.

There are a few folks that i have come across who appear to be their own biggest fans. I say this not out of malice. Quite some time ago I was swamped with an author suggesting I become her fan. This happened on so many different occasions, it was frustrating. Needless to say, I was turned off. If I was going to buy her book, she truly changed my mind. As a reader, I enjoy reading books, as an author I will never shove my presence or writings down someone else's throat. If readers want to read my work, they will. If not, that's alright too.

I'm excited that I've become a published author and that people are interested in my stories. However, I don't ever want to change and will remain the same humble person I was when Eirelander first accepted my story submission. Bottom line is, writing brings me pleasure. When others read my stories and tell me they like them, it brings me pleasure and joy that I actually wrote something they enjoyed reading.

This was a very interesting post. Thank you so much.


Anonymous said...

Blogging is new to me, too.

A few weeks ago (or has it been a month now?), I realized that we have this HUGE community of readers and writers online who are flat-out having a really good time talking to each other. I'm having a lot of fun meeting people who share my love of reading and writing books. It's like being at a writing convention every day.

Laurie London said...

What a great post! It echoes my thoughts exactly.

Recently, I've been so turned off by some authors' online presences that I've made a conscious choice not to buy their books. I'm in a large book club and we've purposely not picked a specific book to read because the author publicly dissed an author we respect.

It could be the old mantra that familiarity breeds contempt, but some things shouldn't be shared in a public forum. We can't forget that everything we write online is public.

I saw a story recently from an agent where she was considering repping a writer who queried her. She googled the woman's name and clicked into a blog. The woman was ranting about something and the agent decided she didn't want to rep someone like that.

We shouldn't feel we need to vanilla-tize ourselves online, but we can't forget that anyone could read it.


Cate Masters said...

I've noticed some negative comments recently on Facebook and elsewhere, which surprise me. Not just negative but downright nasty, with name calling. What's the point? Even if you disagree with someone, it doesn't mean the other person doesn't have the righ to their own opinion.
That said, I love that the playing field's more level with social networking. I can be "friends" with a big name author and leave comments she might actually respond to. Hey, she's human too, and I'm sure she likes to hear from readers as much as I do. A bit of restraint is always a good thing too, though. One big name author blasted a reviewer on Twitter. Never a good thing, on Twitter or elsewhere.

Sandra Sookoo said...

PL, Steph, Carrie--thanks for coming by. Glad you enjoyed the post :-)

Joann, Charisma--yup, it's out there forever. Just be aware :-)

Lana--it's good to have an online presence

Laurie--wow, not getting agent representation for stuff you've said online. That's bad. It's like being overheard at a restaurant.

Cate--yes, it's okay to interact with big name authors. It's when it crosses the line to kissing up that it becomes a problem.

Anonymous said...

I recognize the names of a few writers ONLY because they've posted streams of ego-inflated nonsense and/or criticisms of other people. Distasteful, at best.

Celia Yeary said...

SANDRA--I don't do Facebook or Twitter, but I have a blog and I read so many others and comment. I learned right away to be very careful what and how I say it, because it will show up on Google. I'm not saying I always feel positive, and I tend toward being sarcastic--which can really be taken wrong, so I try very hard not to offend anyone. If I read something I don't like, I just click off. But yes, I have seen such behavior, and when I do, I remember my mother saying, "Now, Celia, don't be tacky." Okay, Mother, I'll be nice. Good post--and I like your previous ones, too. I'm one of those who may read but don't always comment. Celia

Sandra Sookoo said...

Thanks for coming by Lana :-)

Celia--I appreciate you reading my blog posts :-) I always wonder if anyone's out there reading :-) I'm glad you've liked them. I do try to keep it interesting.

Gracen Miller said...

Great blog, Sandra. Although now you have me worrying about anything I post. LOL

I don't typically argue with people because we're all entitled to our own opinions, so I'm not worried about that. But, when it's been a really rough day, I'll post it on FB but only because I have nothing else to say. Maybe I should start saying nothing instead. lol I certainly don't want to be a drain on anyone else. So, like someone said above, if I've made a mistake, please forgive me! :D

I really enjoyed how thought provoking this blog was.

Mariposa Cruz said...

Great topic Sandi,

I gave up on a writer colleague when she went off on a political rant on her blog. I respect her passion, but she would have been better off ranting to a girlfriend over drinks.

Z(Aasiyah/Nolwynn) said...

Loved the topic, Sandi. Good one.

Yes, we're all human. I complain too, but I try not to make it a rant. Like you, we're 'out there'.

One thing I always remember my dad told me was, "don't voice out something you wouldn't say to the person's face." I try to stick to that in life and on the Net.

Personally really will 'kill' my like for a writer if he/she touts her own horn too often, or acts as if readers are just mere mortals at their feet. Unfortunately, I've come across some big names who do that...


Sandra said...

Gracen--thanks for stopping by. All things in moderation :-)

Mariposa--yup, ranting should really be done in person between good friends, not online :-)

Z--thanks for dropping by. I've noticed this trend with some big name authors. I think they forget where they came from.

Thanks everyone for commenting and making this post such a success!

Shawna Williams said...

Celia, the sarcastic thing gets me in trouble too. Also, I tend to make comments on the fly -- light-hearted stuff. But sometimes I look back and wonder why my internal censor didn't go off before I hit the comment button.

I do like how social-networking connects us with other writers and agents b/c, for me, it's simply not financially feasible to attend a conference to meet these people.