As you may know, I’ve a novel due in the next couple weeks. By the time you read this I may already be done said novel, but I still want some padding during these days to give it a once over and make sure it’s in tip-top shape before it leaps forthwith into the publisher’s open, loving arms. That means, over the next two weeks, you’re going to see a bunch — nay, a bushel — of guest posts here at Ye Olde Terryblemyndes bloggery hut (“Where the Elite Meet to Eat Sweet Treats”). Friday’s flash fiction will remain ongoing, however. Anywho, here then is a guest post from sinister ink-witch and terribleminds favorite, Karina Cooper. Her website is here. And don’t forget to follow her on the Twitters.
May I have your attention, please? Hi. My name is Karina Cooper. I am a writer. Are you all paying attention? Yes? Good. Ready?
You know that thing you just did? That tic? That, right there, is why you want to hear me.
Look, I get it. You’ve spent all this time reading helpful blogs, tips, articles and the like all about how to be a better writer. How to cleverly avoid adverbs, narrowly miss writing yourself into corners, sincerely query your agents and editors of choice. You’re told how to save a penny, earn a penny, make a buck. There’s excellent how-tos, dos and don’ts, tidbits and bite-sized morsels of help from all over.
What I have never found? A reminder. One that Charlie Sheen dished out just by example. One that a handful of other prolific writers and wanna-be authors really should have been told. Shut up. Pay attention. Stare hard. I want these words branded in your brain:
Don’t be a dickface.
Ooh. Sorry, is that too much? Let me couch it in terms my agent said to me: “Don’t be a whack job online.”
Better? Good. Let me give you some background.
Once upon a time, there was an incredibly prolific writer who kept a blog. In this blog, she wrote all about the fact that her main character looks like her. And a fuckwit character in her books (a man whose character growth seemed to expand or retract based on this author’s whim) was actually based on her abusive ex-husband. In this same series, the weirdly perfect new hero was based on her now-husband, a man who used to stalk her. Are you creeped out, yet?
In a galaxy far, far away, another prolific author took to Twitter to share that the new work in progress sucked. That it was a bad day, but the sucky book was finished, and would be ready for readers to pony up $8 a pop for this sucky work of suckitude. Whine, whine, and one hand out to collect the earnings. Pity sales would skyrocket for sure… OR WOULD IT?
Meanwhile, back in Manhattan… An author took to roundly scolding every reader and reviewer who dared leave a less than stellar review on various review sites. This author would stalk the web for any mention of name or books, and leave trash-talking comments (sometimes anonymously), insulting everything from the reviewer’s taste to affiliations to intelligence.
…Are you sensing a trend?
Listen, my delicious friends, it’s a simple fact. Sitting behind the anonymous screen of your own computer makes you God. It makes you Zuul. It makes you untouchable and popular and ohmygodcrazy. They love you. They REALLY love you.
I’m here to tell you: don’t be fooled. It’s tempting to grab a beer and sit back on your digital porch, cranking out banjo tunes and shooting off your shotgun (overly complex metaphor is overly complex), but don’t. People are listening. No, really, read that again: people ARE listening. Once-fans or potential readers who don’t feast on drama and rage. Editors and agents who sure as shit are Googling your name upon receiving a query.
Have a blog about eating babies with a nice glass of cranberry juice? A Twitter rant about how stupid Editors X, Y, and Z are? An article extolling the virtues of the First Religion of Anal Bleaching? Congratulations. You’ve just shared with prospective employers three things: 1) you’re non-engagingly weird, and possibly a serial killer, 2) you can’t be professional and certainly can’t be trusted not to stir shit in what amounts to a place of business, and 3) you have an overly zealous obsession with harsh chemicals in delicate places.
None of these things are what we’d call “excellent business sense”.
Let me put it in very clear terms: Writing is a business. Editors, agents, these are your employers (and although it could be said that agents work for you, it’s you that has to earn them, see?). You DO want to get out there and be heard, but you want to be remembered for who you are, your own charming self, your awesome hair, and most importantly, what you’re writing and not what you’re frothing at the mouth about.
“But, Karina,” you whine, “I can only be me!” Okay, fine. The you with the spiky colored hair and facial piercings is eccentric. The you with the porcelain doll collection is quaint. The you with the ongoing obsession with neon pink polka dots and red armpit hair is… unfortunate, but you are what you are.
The you with the undying need to argue with people who don’t like your work, the you with the unhealthy desire to overshare about your sex/political/religious life, the you with seriously unresolved issues treating your blog like a therapist maybe should stay behind closed doors. That means off the net, out of the limelight, stuffed in a closet and beaten with sticks.
You want to write? Pfft, ANYONE can write.
You want to make it as a writer? You want to become an author by career? Then you gotta walk the walk. Talk the talk. Have attitude all you want, but don’t let it get the best of you.
Don’t, in fact, be a dickface.
I know this stuff. I’m a romance author. I’ve got magenta hair and more piercings than I know what to do with, I have a Twitter feed a mile long, I spam the ever-living hell out of the online community, and despite all of this weirdness I present, I am not a dickface, either. I can be ME without opening up my dirty laundry to the world.
Come, friends. Let us not be dickfaces together.
Oh, and you should totally go out and get my first book. It’s called Blood of the Wicked, and it’s out May 31st, 2011. Check it out on Goodreads! Actually, only do that if you or someone you know loves witches, romance, blood, murder, death, sex and gratuitous use of the word “fuck.” And happy endings. I love me some happy endings. Otherwise, just enjoy my glistening spam-meats over at Twitter.
Edit: Chuck also adds: Amazon has a pre-order button for Blood of the Wicked.