Monday, September 22, 2014

Curse it all!!!!

There's nothing I can add to this subject, as evidenced by LAST WEEK's post.
Besides which, Jeffe just said it better than I could have anyway.

Me and marketing (at least on a conscious level)? we met once. I think Marketing snubbed me.

so with that in mind, another "Blast from the Past" this one on the OTHER silent asset to your marketing schemes: You professional persona. You could also call this an exercise in manners....

I’ve been writing these essays for a while now and from time to time I worry that I’m repeating myself. Then I remember, yes, I probably AM repeating myself, because, damn it, some things bear repeating.
One of those things is another variation on an old adage from my very first ever essay here: You get more flies with honey than with vinegar. Another of my mother’s favorite sayings. Yes, I still quote my mother. She was wiser than the majority of the people I’ve encountered in my life and I’ve met some very wise people.
It’s simple, really. All of the attitude in the world will get you attention, but it won’t get you respect. You can throw fits, scream and kick, assault others verbally on bulletin boards, discuss their failings until you’re blue in the face and come up with a million witty retorts, but in the long run, you’re just blowing steam unless you have the chops to back up your attitude. Guess what? NO ONE has the chops to back up the attitudes I’ve encountered a few times.
I don’t just mean the tantrums, either. I mean the snide comments, the sly backhanded compliments designed to make a person look like an imbecile, etc. Frankly, in my experience, most everyone can manage to look like a buffoon without any help. I know I’ve managed it a few times and I wasn’t even trying.
One of the most common things I see that probably shouldn’t be seen comes from a good number of fledgling authors. I call it false praise, because, that’s what it is. Listen it’s okay to believe that your writing is innovative, cutting edge and earth shatteringly good. Hell, without a certain amount of ego, you’re never going to survive the gristmill of submitting to publishers big and small.
Just the same, singing your own praises is not a mark of excellence. It’s not going to dazzle most of the readers out there, nor is it going to endear you to the other writers in the field. You know, the professional ones. Or put another way, saying it doesn’t make it true. I’ve seen far too many writers go out with a fizzle because they tried too hard to make themselves look like the next big thing and rather than trying to prove it with their work they tried to prove it with attitude. Talking a good fight is about as useful as crying wolf for a lark and in the long run almost exactly as productive. There have been a few exceptions over the years, but they were exceptions, not the standard.
Another of my mother’s old sayings that rings truer through the years: the wisest person at a party is the one who keeps his mouth shut. You can’t get yourself in trouble if you think before you make statements. Well, you can. But it’s far less likely.
In the long run, it all comes down to professionalism. Doesn’t it always? You or I can write the best stories ever, can move people to tears of sorrow and joy with our words, and not a single person will give a damn if no one ever reads those words. The likelihood of someone investing the time it takes to actually read a manuscript or a blind submission is decreased if all of the associations are negative. You are, frankly, better off submitting as an unknown than you are as a pompous windbag.
You doubt me? Go ask a few editors.
I’m not saying you have to meekly sit in the corner at conventions and watch the world go by. I’m saying don’t be THAT guy at the bar. Don’t be the one who hits on every woman in the room, including the senior editor for a few major publishers or the fianc├ęs of senior editors. Don’t get so stumbling drunk that you can’t remember what you did the night before, because I can guarantee you that someone, somewhere, WILL remember and will gladly share the recollection with a few friends.
I’m not the only one who’s used the small pond analogy. It fits. Or, you can think of the genre as a small community. You have neighbors you nod to, neighbors you’d help under almost any circumstances and a few freaks who live in that one house where the Christmas lights never go down, two dismantled cars haunt the front yard perpetually and the parents are never home on Saturday night to see the sort of chaos their precious little children cause.
Approach with caution. Behave yourself like a professional instead of like a frat boy during rush week. Think before you make a comment or react to what someone else has said and remember to carry a few band aids because you never know who might need them or how much you might need to make amends.
There are people out there—and no, you should know by now that I’ll not mention names—who seem to thrive on actively ruining their own careers. I’ve watched them post again and again, and seen the way some of the folks around them will actively goad them into more and more outrageous behavior. It’s rather sad, really, but there it is. Some of the hopefuls catch on and actually learn from their mistakes. Most do not. Most apparently don’t want to learn. Instead they pipe in when they think they’ve got something witty to say, and call out across the either sometimes to amuse themselves with the local horror writers.
Not that long ago, on one of the sites where I check regularly to see if anyone has decided to sing the praises of or any of my works (or to condemn a few titles as hackery in the extreme.) I ran across a post by an author who wanted to know if ANYONE on the board could tell him the name of a publisher who specializes in single author short story collections. He didn’t want to go to websites or look the information up. He wanted in the words of one author (who actually made the comment but NOT on a board, rather through an e-mail to which I was privy) that he thought it was audacious of the man to basically ask if anyone wanted to sell the book to a publisher for him. He might have overreacted a bit, but not by much. The tone of the conversation and the responses to the original query and questions basically came down to “I’d rather not work for it. I want it now, and I want it all, but I really don’t have the patience for doing it the right way.” Yeah, that didn’t go over so well.
Why? Because the way he reacted and the way the questions were phrased, lead a lot of people to believe the man was merely trying to find new places where he could make a quick buck without any real effort.
The man claimed he’d made a couple of serious sales but he didn’t want to take the time to actually sell his short stories individually. He wanted to sell them all over the country, to be sure, but preferably in a collection that would require no effort. He made that very clear. He also had a few people shooting him down in quiet forums where no one could hear them. That’s part of the professionalism thing. It’s okay to talk, just not to advertise when someone does something wrong.
Aside from that, several people offered him sage advice which he pushed aside as insignificant.

1 comment:

  1. I love any post that praises mine, but this is such a good one, James! Love your analogy about the neighborhood. I think people too easily forget what a small 'hood we actually lie in. And people have long memories for poor behavior.