Apocalypse Ink Production started our segment on Author Etiquette last month and it was a great success. AIP loves authors, we wouldn’t be in this business if we didn’t; but we have seen situations blow up that could have been prevented with just a little bit of patience, communication and common sense. Whether you are a new author or a pro, it’s sometimes handy to have a small reminder on how to handle a situation before it it gets ugly.
Last month we spoke about Patience. It’s a very important skill to learn. But there are other elements of being an author that are important to remember.
Because very little in publishing moves quickly, it’s easy to lose patience and become frustrated. Other authors--whom you think are less deserving than you--might get chances on projects you’d love to be part of. At times we feel overlooked and undervalued not only in our own lives but in the writing world as well.
So when an opportunity arrives where we feel we can contribute, it’s very easy to jump in with our opinions. But this isn’t always the best option.
Authors are passionate people who know how to use words, but when it comes to being emotionally involved that skill seems to disappear. Many authors have jumped into a matter loudly proclaiming an opinion only to be embarrassed and frustrated that their side wasn’t taken seriously. Other times an author or publisher has the best intention but doesn’t take the time to carefully craft the correct words. This can often lead to misinterpreted intentions, phrases taken out of context and things spiraling quickly out of control.
It’s okay to be passionate about something.Everyone has things they are passionate about. There’s a lot in the world that needs passionate people so that changes can happen. However, there are always going to be others who will not support change because of personal views, experience or stubbornness. Often they are just as passionate at resisting change as those trying to make the change.
Writer A passionately believes that there are not enough dragon stories being published. He’s an avid reader and has seen the decline in dragon stories over the years. He believes that all publications should change their submission guidelines and state that a dragon must somehow be included in the story. Bob then begins a campaign on his blog and other social media outlets for this cause.
Editor M believes differently. She’s tired of dragon stories--they were the rage three years ago--and sees that purple elephant stories are making a strong showing in her submission queue. She doesn’t pay much attention to Writer A’s campaign at first until Writer A mentions that Editor M has not changed the guidelines for her publication.
Thinking that Writer A’s proposed policy change is ridiculous, she responds publically. Before long there’s an online battle between two factions. There are hurt feelings on both sides that leads to more and more anger and very little discussion about the real problem.
It can be difficult to deal with passionate people but sometimes a little grace can help. From the Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, Grace is described as:
the quality or state of being considerate or thoughtful
In a situation with passionate people it’s often a good idea to first find out why they are so passionate about that idea. While it might seem silly to you, perhaps they do have a very good underlying reason for their thoughts. You don’t have to agree but allowing the other side to state their point might make it easier for you to argue yours. If you acknowledge that the opposing side has a point, it might leave them open to think about yours. In discussion, think things out slowly and clearly. Attacking the person (verbally or otherwise) or the idea itself is never a good idea and can often make the situation worse. State your side of the idea and why you feel that way and point to concrete evidence that supports your side. And it really is okay to step back and say “Hey, I’m going to collect my thoughts on this. I’ll be back with you in a little bit.”
Many times no one is going to change their minds. We are human, we want to be “right” and it’s very difficult for many people to change their minds especially if they are emotionally close to a subject. But by being respectful and considerate, you might just be able to walk away from an argument without virtual bloodshed.
If you’d like to see an example of Grace in action, look here. I can’t think of a better way to handle such a situation.
~The Shadow Minion