Saturday, March 14, 2015

Authors Behaving Badly

            I’ve been inspired by events over the last few days to write this blog post. I’m sure that most of my readers have no idea what set of circumstances I’m specifically talking about, and I apologize, but I’m not going to entirely fill you in. I feel that the situation has gone quite far enough and there’s enough fuel on this particular fire. And I’m not going to even touch the particular topics people are upset about; people have differences of opinion and different views, and sometimes I might even agree with their general stance or point. What I don’t agree with is how some authors and their fans are conducting themselves, and that is what I’m talking about today.
            Let me give you some idea of what I’m discussing today in broad terms. Some of these examples are things that have happened this week, but some of them are things I’ve seen over the years I’ve been in the publishing business.
            Some of the things I’m upset about have to do with basic politeness that some people seem to think, because of the distance and/or anonymity of the internet, they can do away with. When authors have differences of opinion, I have seen instances of name-calling, bullying, and encouraging their followers to do the same. This is especially egregious when very popular authors do it since they have loads of attention, sway, and followers. The fallout can be downright wicked in that case.
            Ironically, some of the people out there yelling that a particular author is being a bully turn around and become even bigger bullies in response. Here’s the thing - when I was tormented in high school by a certain nasty young lady and her posse of losers, I eventually had enough, chewed her out, and told her to back off. After that, it was pretty much over and we ignored each other. What I didn’t do was then summon all of my friends to harass her. I didn’t go down to where she worked and tell them that I didn’t like how she behaved outside of work hours and they should fire her. If I had, who would have been the bully then?
Disagreeing by attacking someone's livelihood
is a cheap way to win an argument. **
            Here’s the thing I am most unhappy about, when authors attack the livelihood of other authors. Let me explain – some authors fight by going onto review sites and giving their rival’s books one star, leaving reviews like “absolutely horrible” or “worst book I ever read,” even though they’ve never read it. This is a cheap way of trying to make your point. It’s hard enough to make a living as a writer without being attacked unfairly.
            Let’s face it, people aren’t going to agree all the time, and sometimes you are going to absolutely hate something someone else has to say, but is attacking their livelihood really the correct response? And before you say, “well it depends on what is said,” would you feel the same if someone did it to you? The most polite and reasonable person in the world has undoubtedly at some point said something they regretted, was misunderstood, or was just plain disagreed with.
            There’s one more point I’d like to reiterate. It’s tough out there in the publishing world, especially among the Indie authors. What would happen if we just ignored bad behavior instead of drawing battle lines? Or if we supported each other instead of tearing each other down? That is the kind of community I’d like to be a part of, and I hope more authors feel the same.

Book burning by pcorreia, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License   by  pcorreia 

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