Wednesday, September 21, 2011

May I have some cheese with my whine?

It seems like everywhere I click, I read the warnings: Be careful what you blog about.

There are no-no's like....

Don't announce it so openly whenever you receive a rejection. Other publishers you submit to out there will check your web presence and see exactly who didn't want your story before it came into their hands; they might reject you on principle.

OR

Don't rant online about getting a poor review. You may get hundreds of comments in your inbox for it, but they won't be good. Plus, you could ruin your entire brand as an author.

OR

Don't complain about problems with critique partners, beta rereads, editors, publicists, (fill in the blank). That's just bad business.

OR

Pretty much, don't complain at all.

But that makes me worry, if I only post about the good perks of my writing life, will that make other people hate me? "Oh, well look at Linda over there, announcing ANOTHER book sale. All she ever does is brag about how good she has it. The @#$!"

Or maybe everyone would think I've overdosed on my happy pill again if I only talk about positive points.

In writing, there are just as many downs as there are ups, just as many trials and tribulations as there are reasons to jump up and down and celebrate...if not more.

It's statically proven that for every query letter you write which will ultimately sell a book, you'll submit at least five more that will get you a rejection.

For every glowing, five-star review you get, there may be a scathing, one-star right around the corner.

For every time someone reads your novel and compliments it, another will no-doubt find the flaws.

And let's not get started on the waiting. As an author, you begin to wait from day one. Wait for the muse to hit, wait for critique partners to read your manuscript, wait for a response on your submission, wait for book covers, wait for edits, wait for release days, wait for reviews, wait for royalty statements. Do I really need to go on?

In blogging, we post our writing journals online as a way to connect with other people going through similar circumstances. We hope to find a kindred soul out there, someone who understands. We may also log our journey for others just beginning their adventure to read it as a learning tool.

So wouldn't it make sense to spell out all the pitfalls as much as we share our exciting, happy news?

Yes and no.

Of course at your lowest point you need others the most, you need that connection with someone else to help lift yourself back up. But you shouldn't do it to the point of harming yourself or others.

I'm one of those people who believes you should talk about the bad along with the good, in a tasteful way, so you can reveal the complete picture of what it's really like to be in your shoes. Then again, I also believe there should be some social restrictions with that sharing.


First, you should wait a day, a week, a month (whatever it takes) until you can step back and view your experience from a more objective point of view. If that simply cannot happen--you can't remain calm no matter how long it's been--then it isn't something you should make public. Find a single friend to confide in.

Second, generalize the event by keeping out times, places, numbers, titles, names. Protect the innocent...and guilty parties. If you want to talk about a rejection, maybe you could wait until the story contracts somewhere before mentioning how one, unnamed rejection letter wanted you to remove your favorite scene, and you stayed true to yourself.

Third, bash yourself a little. None of us are perfect. And in every encounter, we can look back afterward and think, "gee, if only I'd done this, maybe that wouldn't have happened." If you make light of yourself, slip in a joke about how you flubbed a little on your part, then your post won't appear like such an attack in any specific direction. It'll simply be a recounting of what happened.

Fourth, to go along with the third, put some humor--or maybe suspense--in it. You're posting this on a public forum with the express intent for others to read it, otherwise it'd go in a private diary. So, make it interesting for your reader, like they're in some fictional character's story, not a real-life author's bitch session.

Finally, focus it more internally than externally. Got a bad review? Don't strike out and call the reviewer a stinky-faced poo-poo head, because that only seems to make YOU look bad. Just explain how much it crushed your confidence. How will you ever go on to write again (or with a little less drama, if you prefer)? That's what the true meat of the problem is after all: how the experience made you feel.

Of course, these are all suggestions not hard-core rules. What works for one may not work for another.

I only wish a memorable ride to all who are taking the writing and blogging express--be they good days or bad. I understand both sides, and I'm certain others can too. Please share them with me!!

10 comments:

Marie Rose Dufour said...

Linda, you are right on the money with this blog. There are good and bad points about being a writer. It's important to express the "truth" but in a very tactful manner. You don't want to burn any bridges, at least before you cross them! LOL!

Linda Kage said...

Good point, Marie! A speaker told my writing group recently not to burn any bridges in the publishing industry because editors and such move from one house to the next quite frequently and they can remember your name.

Jessica Nelson said...

I think those are excellent suggestions. I think it's not what you share...but how you share it. :-)

Carol Kilgore said...

I agree ... it's all about how. I try to use humor.

Linda Kage said...

Oh, that's such good advice. I could've cut my whole blog down to one line if I'd of just said that!

Thanks, Jessica and Carol.

Amber Skyze said...

This is such a great topic. It's hard to decide what to share on your blog - good or bad. I keep issues with editors off mine. I don't shy away from sharing bad reviews, but I'll never bash the reviewer. It's one persons opinion and they have a right to it, even if I don't agree. :)
I try not to burn any bridges, but I might have at one time or another.

Big Mike said...

My rule: don't worry, be happy, or didn't they make that into a song.

Michael Davis (Davisstories.com)
Author of the Year, (2008 and 2009)

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Great post, Linda - it's all about getting a balance isn't it? Personally I like to read the good and bad things about being a writer and trying to get published!

Julie Eberhart Painter said...

Excellent advice. Be a professional and keep your integrity and your dignity. Humor doesn't hurt either, but it takes time to see the funny side.

January Bain said...

Yeah, I guess it would be a little hard to hide with a name like January if I annoyed the publishing industry. Fortunately, I really do try to follow the rules laid out in this insightful blog and avoid causing bad karma in my world. Chiefly because my darling husband and I have to live in it!