Dear authors and aspiring authors…

I think I’ve mentioned this in the past, in other posts in passing, but I’m going to revisit it again because of a conversation I had recently. I’m not telling you what to do or how to act (not really) but I’m going to throw a word of advice your way, because it’s my blog, and I can do that.

It’s simple, really. Don’t burn your bridges. Trite but so true. Readers have a lot of freedom on both blogs and message boards to say what they want, because they don’t have to worry about alienating other people. Other readers don’t like them? Oh well. Authors don’t like them? Big deal. They’re the consumer and it’s their own money they’re spending. Maybe they shouldn’t always say the things they do, maybe some things are just better left alone, but they don’t have to worry too much about reprisals or repercussions. Frustrating? Yes. Fair? No. But fact.

Authors (and editors and publishers) on the other hand, don’t have that luxury. Yep, we’re entitled to our opinions and to sharing them, but sometimes we shouldn’t (something I have to remind myself of from time to time). Why? Because, in reality, the industry isn’t so big that it might not come back to bite you in the ass (maybe an email will show up in your inbox from someone you never expected to read your blog *g*). The author(s) you sound off about today might be the author your publisher wants to put you in an anthology with tomorrow. Or might be the author you sit next to at a booksigning next week. Or might be the author you share a table with at that conference dinner next month. Or might be the author who coordinates a huge promo campaign that you’d really like to participate in next year.

The point is, you don’t know when you’re going to need the goodwill of the people who are, in a sense, your co-workers. Your peers. The people who understand and appreciate the most how brutal this business can be. Treat them with the same respect you’d want shown to you. You do both yourself and them a disservice by sounding off just because you *can*.

It doesn’t mean you can’t have opinions. And certainly it doesn’t mean you can’t say them or blog them or write a comment on a message board. Review their books, intelligently discuss their characters, their plot, their story. But don’t do it to get attention or to prove how smart you are or how much you know. Do it because you love the craft, because you want to share your delight in all things publishing, because you enjoy how a book comes to be shaped. Do it in a way that doesn’t destroy the bridge behind you, because those are awfully hard to rebuild but so easy to regret.

/end sermon

**edited to add, because I was highly amused by four different people taking four different things from this post (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing) I’m editing in to add that I’m not referring to the big JR Ward dust-up at all. In fact, it wasn’t on my mind in the slightest when I wrote this, mostly because that seemed to involve mostly readers and then an “anonymous” author who jumped on the bandwagon. I’ll go on to say that I didn’t write this post with “authors behaving badly” being discussed by their peers at all. This post had nothing to do with what you think of someone else’s behavior at all. And now that some of you are thoroughly confused, I’ll just laugh and carry on with my day. Because I re-read what I wrote and, well, I said what I wanted to say. :bat:

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