In this day in age, authors have to be 100% present. They have to have an active online personality, and network with other authors and people in the book industry.
There seems to be a thousand unwritten rules, a thousand author “don’ts” that I sometimes find hard to follow…mainly because I find social things rather perplexing.
Sometimes, I think I know what all of this means, and other times I’m left scratching my head in bewilderment after I make an unbeknownst error.
I used to be very bubbly when I was a kid. I thought I was charming back then, I thought that people enjoyed my company. I had confidence and charisma on that playground. I owned that playground, and I didn’t leave anybody out. I tried to include everyone, because the more friends, the more fun.
I’m still the same way, still bubbly and while I’m definitely a thousand times more awkward than I was back then, I’ve made it my mission to be inclusive and kind because I don’t see the need to add more strife and hate in this world. Let’s face it, being awkward doesn’t mean you need to be mean about it.
The rules of the publishing game might change constantly (and that’s another post for another time) and I’m really not one to give “writing advice”. My motto when it comes to writing is keep writing. You can’t improve without practice, and to hone your craft all you really need to do is keep at it.
I don’t have a huge “do/don’t” list I believe everyone should follow (because really, where’s the fun and individuality in that?) but I’m happy to share my code of ethics, as I find one of the most important parts of being a writer is being professional and, well, nice.
These are the tidbits I try to pass on to aspiring authors who come to me for advice:
- Be kind. Always, a thousand times over, be kind. It doesn’t hurt your cool image to be nice to people.
- Be humble. Don’t let your ego take up all the space in the room. Remember where you came from, where you started, and be thankful to those who helped get you where you are…your readers! Those guys and gals are the tits! Without them, you wouldn’t be writing.
- Pay it forward. Don’t discount someone’s talents because they aren’t as established as you are, or their covers aren’t as nice as you think they could be. I think a lot of people forget the most important part of a book is the content. Books are kind of like people in that way: their outer appearances don’t always match their inner appearances. The content of a book is like the heart of the person: it may surprise you.
- Be honest. Sure, you don’t have to spill all of your deepest secrets to your readers, but pretend to be someone you’re not just to fit into a mold. Be yourself.
- Remember who you write for–yourself and any reader that picks up your novel and love it.
- Be supportive. This industry is hard–the rules are always changing and the drama flows constantly. Don’t be cliquey, be supportive. Most plants need sunlight to grow, and people are the same way. Positive interactions build a better foundation for our community while negative interactions make it suck for the readers as well as the authors, so be sunlight.
- Avoid the drama. There’s always going to be drama, but it’s best not to feed into it. Why waste energy on the negative when you could spread positive energy around?
Really, when it comes down to it…treat others how you wish to be treated. In the wise words of Mahatma Gandhi:
We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do.