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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Let's Get Some Things Straight...

Publishing is a really small business. Everyone knows everyone. We all know reputations. We all know who likes what and who hates who and we all know it because of the internet. The majority of people in the publishing business (the non-author ones like editors and agents) build followings based on social media. In some ways, agents have become their own brand and that's okay. It means that agent has that many more people trusting their review of their book.

But social media and publishing can become a deadly combination. Because we all know Names, and not everyone likes the same things. Some agents, especially younger agents, try to keep their opinions on the down-low by publishing their thoughts and critiques in an anonymous form. Editors do it. Authors do it. Every part of publishing has at least one person tweeting or tumbling under an anonymous title. Parody accounts as a facet of social media, they provide social commentary, satire, and sometimes they cross lines. But generally speaking the anonymous accounts of publishing shine a bright light on the dark corners of our strange profession. But, sometimes, when someone is comfortable under an anonymous mask they tend to be more truthful than other people are comfortable with.

They might, for instance, say they are sick of a certain genre of books and derivatives of a certain popular author.

And someone might take offense at this, because they love the genre, or the author, or the derivatives, or just be having a bad day.

And the someone who took offense might, because they're having a bad day, turn around and figure out who the anonymous person is and email them.

They might go so far as to threaten them.

And then the person who thought they were posting for friends has to leave the internet because it turns out you can screen your friends on social media and some hateful person out there is vindictive enough to threaten you and your livelihood in the name of a good book.

When people say publishing is a jungle, they aren't kidding. It's kill or be killed some days. People are vicious. People will hate you for what you read, write, and love. People will issue death threats over rejection letters, stalk you because of a tweet, and demand you get fired from your job just because you said you didn't like a certain author.


You know what?

That's not okay.

If someone wants to say JK Rowling ought to quit writing that's the individual's prerogative. No one needs to defend JKR. No one needs to see this individual burned alive.

If an editor says they hate dystopian fiction and think the trend would go away it is not okay to call the publishing house and demand that editor be fired.

If a reviewer howls to the moon about how much they hate a certain author's latest book, it's not okay to send them death threats.

I really wish I were exaggerating here, but these things happen. Over books.

I love books. I write books. I collect books. I love reading books. But they are, at the end of the day, objects. Books are THINGS. They are valuable, insightful, life-saving things but they are THINGS. And a person is a PERSON. People are more important than things.

When you hit a point where you think THING is more important than PERSON you need to step back. Get off the computer. Disengage. Take a walk. Pick up a new hobby. Maybe do some meditation and deep soul-searching. Because PEOPLE matter. Things don't. And no one should ever be threatened or hated or ruined because of a thing.

Your opinion is valid. Your feelings are valid. Your feelings and opinions are not more valid than someone else's. A difference of opinion doesn't mean one person is right and another person is wrong.

Kicking puppies is wrong. Not loving sci-fi means you have questionable taste, but it's not wrong.

Killing people is wrong. Not loving a popular author is normal.

Sending someone death threats is wrong. Sending a rejection letter is business.

All clear now?

Good, now play nice.

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