Know what really grinds my gears? People who let Publishing make them its bitch.
Being a YA writer is a lot like being a celebrity. I mean, I know we’re not ACTUAL celebrities, but the idea of the spotlight is the same. We shouldn’t go around without wearing panties (a mistake I won’t make again, I can assure you), we have to watch what we do because the paparazzi is always lurking (I KNEW someone was snapping photos when I took out the trash), and the things we say get taken out of context all the time.
But here’s the point: you have to keep a stiff upper lip.
When something terrible happens, our first instinct is to talk about it. Which is HEALTHY. But just watch where you say it, and to whom. Venting about things that you can’t control on your Twitter (especially when you’re doing it on a weekly basis) just looks tacky. Vent if you need to. Just don’t overdo it! Vent, and then LET IT GO. Don’t wallow. There’s always something better you can be doing with your time.
There are writers who’ve allowed EVERYTHING about their publishing journey to make them miserable. Instead of rejoicing that they’re being published, every milestone becomes a reminder of how they got screwed over along the way. Every hurdle becomes a personal offense. Some people are more sensitive than others, and I sympathize. But DO NOT put it out there for public consumption.
There’s one writer I know who had a very good reason to get upset a few months ago. Something happened with her publicly (that she had no control over), and if I had been in her shoes, I’d have been upset too. But here’s the thing: no one on the outside knew anything about it. She kept it professional and stressed in private.
But some people don’t respond in the same way. Maybe their journey has been tough. But that doesn’t matter! If I go to my day job and tell everyone who will listen that I’m underpaid and overworked, I look like a jerk, and I can’t be shocked if I lose my job. I was raised to believe that if you put out negativity, the only thing you’ll get back is MORE negativity. I don’t need to know every way the world is out to screw you, and neither do the people who read your books. People want to know about the author, not the author’s bad moods and insecurities.
Remember: no one invites Negative Nancy to the Prom. There’s a fine line between sharing and over-sharing. If you’re using your blog or Twitter to vent more than promote yourself, then stop blogging. Stop Tweeting. I think that being a bad blogger, or an annoying Tweeter, can do more harm for your career than in not doing either.
I’ve watched two authors lately(whose books I loved) as they’ve spent the weeks and months since their books came out complaining about every single misstep along the way. They’ve whined about the placement of their book, how they didn’t get to do a big tour, how their one or two half-hearted promo attempts fell flat. It’s appalling, to be honest. And I really just can’t believe that between their agents, their editors, writer friends or even ANYONE at their publishing house, that no one’s suggested that they suck it up and put on a brave face.
Believe me, I have my moments. But I keep that private. The worst you’ll hear me say is that I’m struggling with a scene, or that I’m having a bad day. I don’t use my Twitter as therapy, and I don’t think anyone else should either. Twitter is a horrible therapist!
I think what it boils down to is that whether or not you believe that YOU are a brand, the end result is that YOU can be Googled. And once you put things out on the Internet, they’ll stick around in some form. Maybe you deleted that that Tweet you sent out complaining about B&N, but SOMEONE saw it, and they’ll remember that the next time you have a book coming out. Heck, it may get talked about in book clubs, between critique groups, or even latenight gossip sessions over Jack and Cokes after BEA.
So I guess what I’m saying is that as a writer, there isn’t much of a dress code. But I really think we should all be wearing our big boy Underoos. Don’t you?