Lately I’ve been thinking about what makes a writer. There are many aspects which go into making a writer: long nights, thankless days, all the behind-the-scenes work that go into producing a single manuscript. However once you finish that manuscript, have it polished, and ready for the world, there is another aspect to take into account.
You are the ambassador for your book and the craft.
Recently there’s been a hubbub in the literary world over debut author Scott Bergstrom and some remarks he made in an interview. Frankly, he’s led a charmed existence since first self-publishing his YA book The Cruelty. From finding an agent, to landing a six figure deal, and having a movie company ready to option his book to film. All of this within a glorious year. And in one interview he may have blown it.
In said interview, Mr. Bergstrom relays how superior his book is to other YA novels by saying that his book was “morally complex”. That his heroine who begins as an overweight teen becomes a lean, bad a$$ by hunting down her father’s kidnappers. Even the snippet of the story accompanying the article takes a not too subtle dig at The Hunger Games franchise. And when asked he read much YA he said no.
The backlash was almost immediate as established YA authors such as James Dashner and Victoria Schwab took to social media in defense of craft with retweets and the hashtag
With that there was a following of bloggers, fellow writers, and avid readers who now got to see the words for themselves, many finding him arrogant, ignorant of the genre, and truly full of himself. More if not all who participated in the lively Twitter chat swore off buying his book or supporting him in any fashion, leaving his publishing house scrambling to do a PR rescue for their now costly investment.
When you write, you are hoping to see your work in the local bookshop and library once you’re done. Writing the end on your formerly work in progress doesn’t mean you’re done. You still need an audience. Weigh what you say.
Does that mean you can’t speak your mind or stand up for what you believe? Absolutely not. There are plenty of authors who are very vocal about what they believe, but they, in most cases, make it about their personal belief. Most have not attacked the talent and livelihood of their fellow writers.
You may not love every popular book. Heck, you can pick up a book and wonder how the person got a publishing contract while you languish in query limbo. You can have those thoughts and feelings all you want – but stay humble. What need is there to throw others in the community under the bus? You’re trying to break in and share the spotlight with these people, your peers. They work just as hard as we all do, deserving of some respect. When you make it, you wouldn’t want for that shade to be thrown your way. So stay humble everybody. Don’t let negativity take you down before you even start.
Stay writeous everyone!