QueryTracker Blog

Helping Authors Find Literary Agents

Monday, September 10, 2012

Beware What You Say!

by Stina Lindenblatt @StinaLL

 ©Stina Lindenblatt

The drive to publishing success can result in the good and the ugly, and everything in between. It motives writers to dissect novels and movies, so they understand what makes for an emotionally compelling story. They attend conferences and workshops. Network and join writing organizations. Develop friends with like-minded writers who understand what they go through, and who can support them during both the high and the lows. 

But with the good comes the ugly. Here are three syndromes that can occur with success. Hopefully none have impacted your life, in one way or another.

I-have-fault-with-your-success syndrome

On the dark side is jealousy. When people you know land agents and book deals, it whispers in your ear, “Why them? Why not you?” And that’s okay, if you use that voice to help make you a better writer. Let jealousy inspire you to sign up for a writing course on emotion or stronger characterizations (or whatever weakness you struggle with). What you want to avoid is finding fault with the person’s success, no matter how small, and verbalizing your opinion. If he wins a manuscript critique from his dream agent in an auction benefiting a charity he believes in, don’t tell him he paid too much. If a small press requests a manuscript from a pitch contest he entered, don’t tell him not to send it because you don’t think much of the publisher. He obviously did if he entered the contest. And if an agent wants to talk to him, congratulate your friend, even if you have issues with the agent. Let him enjoy his moment first. 

Remember, while you’re finding fault with his successes, you can guarantee his other friends aren’t. They’re happy for him and being supportive.

It’s-only-good-if-I-succeed-at-it syndrome

Lately, we’re seeing a lot of success stories in both traditional and self publishing. We’re also hearing a lot of negative talk about both forms of publishing. The best thing to do is be careful what you say. If you are only cheering for one and constantly pointing out the negatives of the other, you’ll lose all credibility if you do an abrupt turn and go the other route. 

If you claim you don’t trust agents and you aren’t interested in querying, how is it going to look to your querying friends when an agent out of the blue offers you representation, because your self-published novel is a bestseller, and you jump at the chance of being signed? Now you're a hypocrite. You didn't trust them before, because they rejected your manuscript when you were querying. Suddenly they are trustworthy because your book is now desirable due to the sales. Really? Don't you see the irony in that? Instead of saying anything negative about agents, especially if your friends are querying, you are better off saying nothing at all.

You never know when things will change and your words and actions will come back and pie you in the face. It's best to be supportive of all opinions available, no matter where they currently fit in your goals.

Broken-record syndrome

Publishing is tough. No one will argue that. Each tiny success should be celebrated. But you know how it is when a song you like is played on the radio ad nauseam. The song goes beyond annoying. That’s what it’s like when you use social media to mention your success. It’s great the first few times, because we want to celebrate with you. But when you go on and on about the same thing, like a CD stuck in repeat mode, people will tune out. It becomes promotional spam. And when something big does happen, few people are now listening. Or worse yet, few will even care. Share your successes, but know when to say ‘thanks’ and move on. Know the difference between being excited and being self-absorbed. One is great, the other isn’t.

The writing community is a supportive place. Let’s keep it that way. Make sure your drive to success is leading you in the positive direction. 

What’s your favorite way to deal with those moments of jealous we all get? Have you ever had to deal with someone whose jealousy became toxic? 

Stina Lindenblatt @StinaLL writes young adult novels. In her spare time, she’s a photographer and blogging addict, and can be found hanging out on her blog, Seeing Creative.  


Christina Lee said...

Wow, food for thought, Stina. Well said, very well said. :D

Laura Pauling said...

I love supporting my friends who are trying for the traditional route. I don't see myself heading in that direction but I would consider it if it were the right deal with the right price. Or maybe not. I won't know until I cross that bridge.

Marsha Sigman said...

I haven't had to deal with jealousy directed at me in the writing world. Yet.ha

But I know how toxic it can be. And I'm not afraid to say I have felt it myself! But I try to deal with it in a healthy way and let it motivate me. Besides, almost every one in the writing community is so damn nice, how can you begrudge their success? Impossible.

On a side-note though, I really hate when my twitter feed looks like a constant promotional book roll. That's just annoying.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Balance is important. I like bloggers and tweeters who talk about life as it happens, including their books, but there's got to be the rest of life, too.
As for jealousy, whew. It's never a good idea to voice that in any way. I've stepped away from people who appear petty in comments. And with the publishing industry changing so rapidly, keeping an open mind is huge.
thx for this, Stina.

Martha Ramirez said...

This is an EXCELLENT post!

"They’re happy for him and being supportive."

That's right! And you are so right about not pointing fingers to the opposite of traditional or self-pub. We really all are in the same boat.

And to wonder why them and not you using that inner voice to make you stronger in your craft is totally right on.

Awesome post!

James Garcia Jr. said...

Thanks for sharing, Stina. I must admit that I have had those moments of jealousy. I never vocalize them to anyone but my wife - not that it makes it right. Instead, I should celebrate with those authors and use that success to motivate me to do better work, whether it be the writing, the networking or the promotion.