Look – two posts in a single day! Lucky, lucky!
Since I’ve talked a great deal about being professional on a monetary level, I thought I’d talk about being a professional on an attitude/personal level. Then I’d like to talk about professional jealousy. It seems that I have been meeting some very unprofessional authors lately.
Sure, no one’s perfect and we’re only human. I’ve made some of these mistakes, too. We all have. I also get that it’s hard being nice to everyone (especially if you feel it’s undeserved), but when it comes to having a writing career, nothing can kill it faster than being unprofessional toward your fellow authors, toward agents, or toward publishers. I suppose this goes for every industry actually. Our reputations precede us.
I think I’ve probably pointed out these rules for “celebrity” before, but let me point them out again. Authors often have, in their own way, some celebrity about them and with that power comes some pretty intense responsibility.
- 1. Always be positive. No one likes a negative-nellie. Of course this isn’t always easy to do, but try to do it. The more positive you are, the more you’ll draw positive people to you. People in your industry will be more positive toward you if you are positive.
- 2. Never slam other writers, especially if you are jealous of them or you simply don’t like them or their work. This also means don’t leave bad reviews of their work. Leave it be. If word gets out that you’re underhanded and catty – no one will want to associate with you. This goes for publishers, editors, agents, and other writers. Sometimes this kind of thing affects readers, too! Networking is important in any line of work. If you want to be taken seriously – don’t behave like a jealous brat.
- 3. Don’t constantly whine – about anything. Don’t constantly whine about people you don’t like. Don’t constantly whine about your problems. Don’t whine about your publisher. Don’t whine about editors or agents. This will make others lose their respect for you. Not to mention it turns readers off, too. People wonder why I don’t slam other writers (even if I dislike their work or them) and this is why. It’s a small world. Writers are NOT in direct competition with one another for readers. If your work is decent, it will sell itself and no whining goes a long way to drawing positive attention to your work. Not only that but whiny people are exhausting and most people will avoid them like the plague.
- 4. Don’t get too personal. There is such a thing as TMI. While I understand some erotica authors write about sex and really, we should be open about such things, I think intimate details about one’s personal sex life is an off-limit topic to editors, agents, fellow writers, and readers. Other TMI topics include having public, online fights with your spouse, bitching about ex-friends or people you hate, or trash talking other authors and bringing their personal life into the mix to really hit them below the belt.
Those are the basic rules.
All of this leads me to the topic of professional jealousy.
A lot of the lack of professionalism I see around me is due to professional jealousy. Usually one writer is upset because another writer, who they don’t like or whose work they dislike or disagree with, has had more success than them. This happens. It happens every day. I know authors who are far more successful than I am. I don’t spend my days trying to tear them down to anyone who will listen in hopes readers will stay away from them. That’s ridiculous, immature, and unprofessional. Instead, I encourage and support writers more successful than me and guess what? They encourage and support me in return.
Readers are adults with minds of their own. Give them enough credit for being able to find writers they like or dislike on their own. If you’re going to criticize a work, do it professionally, without making digs at the writer as a person, and be specific about what you dislike about the work while also pointing out its strong points. That’s how professionals do it. There is also the option of ignoring anyone whose success you disagree with. For example – my rule is that I no longer review any book I can’t give at least three stars to.
This leads me to how one becomes successful even in the shadow of those more successful than them. Concentrate on minding your own business instead of trying to mind theirs. You reap what you sow.
So instead of treating your writing career as some kind of competition with other authors, you might try a different approach.
I, for example, compete with myself. I challenge myself to try to write the best book I can each time I start a new book. I challenge myself at word counts. I challenge myself with writing goals. I worry about MY work and MY career – not everyone else’s. I am in a competition of one between me and me. I’ve had a great deal of luck with this approach and I think it has, in part, contributed to my own success.
Also remember that tearing down other authors doesn’t make them any less successful than you. It doesn’t make you better than them or them worse than you. Tearing down others says more about you than it does about the person you’re tearing down. You’re also wasting valuable time that you could be spending elevating your own work. When I see writers complaining about other writers I see a writer who has a low self-esteem and who isn’t writing because they’re so crippled with jealousy. I feel pity for them because they’re wasting their lives tearing down those who have been successful in blame for their own lack of success.
See my fable about frogs if you want more about this topic.
Good luck with your writing and remember that you catch more flies with honey… 🙂