It seems like every couple of months or so I come across an Author Behaving Badly on the internet. This week’s ABB is Kiana Davenport who is currently having a very public meltdown because her publisher cited her for breach of contract and is asking for their money back. What, oh what did Ms. Davenport do to deserve such a fate?
According to her blog, Ms. Davenport self-published a collection of short stories and her publishers asked her to cease which she refused to do. Her blog post is full of drama and hyperbole and bashing of the traditional publishing model, but the very wise people over at the Absolute Write forum have kindly explained in more detail and less “woe is me’ing” why this outcome may have come about.
But this specific instance isn’t what I want to talk about. I want to talk about how to behave online when things aren’t going so well.
DO NOT publicly rant about your publisher/agent/editor online. Just don’t. This is the equivalent of a toddler having a meltdown in the middle of Walmart. It’s not pretty and you’re showing your immaturity to the entire world. If you really feel the need to bitch, do it with your best friend/significant other/dog/diary.
Anything you post online stays online. Even if you later delete it, chances are that somebody, somewhere grabbed a screenshot or a cache of it is sitting on a server somewhere.
Unless you’ve got the writing ability of J.K. Rowling or Stephen King, publishers and agents don’t want to work with authors who are pains in the ass. They WILL Google your name. If you’ve been previously agented or published, they WILL talk to your previous agent/editor.
This doesn’t mean that you have to be nothing but a slavering sycophant to agents and editors. What it means is don’t be a dick.
Publishing is a business, so act like a business professional. The other people involved in getting you published are also business professionals – treat them like they are. You hold your publishing career in your hands, don’t crush it by insulting and alienating those people best able to help you achieve your goals.
Clear, calm, and open communication between rational adults will always win out over a three-alarm meltdown.
Be respectful, be mature, but most importantly of all be smart. Think about how what you post online is going to affect you not only now, but six months, a year, five years, ten years down the road. Will it be a memorable Rejection Queen affair? One that will kill your career before it even gets started? Will it disgust and piss off a large portion of your readers a la Laurell K Hamilton and Anne Rice?
If you really feel the need to blast somebody online, take a step back. Disconnect your internet connection for a bit until you’ve calmed down. Take a bath, have a drink, blast away video game zombies. Do whatever it is you need to do to not make an ass of yourself.