Something that has consistently bothered me since I started writing is the way some people view this business as an either/or thing. And that extends to so many things.
I’m of the, “We can all be successful and happy” camp instead of the “If you’re successful that means I am less so, so I wish you ill” camp. Writing is a pretty solitary gig so it’s essential to me to have my circle of friends. Those folks who go through what I do, who will give me advice when I need it, celebrate with me when good things happen, pet me when things are bad and who won’t hesitate to tell me when I’m wrong. Writing is a business of lots of ups and downs. The constant you can actually control is how you deal with other people.
You can choose to interact with people in this industry as colleagues and friends, or you can see others only as people who can help you or those you think are taking away from you – in the end, people know you think of them that way and they will react to you based on that. It’s a lonely, glass half full way to be and it won’t take you farther in publishing.
On that note – not everything is a conspiracy. Not everyone is out to get you. In fact, most people in publishing don’t think about you enough to want to destroy your career. It is NOT TRUE that traditional publishing is out to ruin you. It is NOT TRUE that agents hate authors and want to harm them. It is NOT TRUE that editors want to kill your precious words. I think there are wonderful writers who have chosen to strike a path in self publishing who do a bang up job at it (Courtney Milan is at the top of that list, IMO, but there are many others). It is NOT TRUE that all self published books are unedited first drafts. It is NOT TRUE that all self published authors went that way because they weren’t “good enough” to sell to NY.
There are many people in publishing who have blazed trails that I can learn from. That you can learn from. I may not make the same choices as another author, but there are always things to learn from people you admire. There are people who manage to work in big traditional publishing, small digital first and self publishing all at once. There are people, Bella Andre for instance, who manage a well marketed self publishing career alongside traditional publishing. And do it exceptionally well. Even if you don’t want to go traditional or self publishing, you can sure learn a lot from someone like Andre.
Sometimes I look at an author loop and I find myself shaking my head. Some people automatically, EVERY TIME on EVERY ISSUE jump to a negative conclusion. A survey that doesn’t manage to word every question in such a way as to address every single issue anyone might ever have? It must be bias against (insert issue here). Well, really? Perhaps it’s just that crafting a survey that can address every single issue ever is impossible. Or, it could be that the survey is asking about specific things that pertain to the interests of the organization doing the survey.
I am not a Pollyanna by any stretch. I am easily agitated and cranky. There have been issues over the history of author organizations that have showed bias against certain types of groups. There’s no denying that. But to take everything as something negative from go doesn’t serve anyone. After a while no one takes you seriously and you begin to lose perspective. It doesn’t further your career. It doesn’t make you a better person. And people begin to associate you with that.
You don’t have to like everyone in publishing. Heaven knows I don’t. But what I AM saying is we can learn from each other. We can look at one another without seeing competition or someone who doesn’t matter because they can’t further your career. We can watch people who make different career choices and realize all these paths are good for us as writers, good for publishing in general. Shine on the people you don’t like. Stop flipping out in public. Hold it together and maybe realize we’re all in this together.