Warning, this is going to be a bit of a rant. I actually wrote this yesterday, posted it, then thought it was a bit more negative than I like to be on the blog and I pulled it after a half hour or so. This afternoon, I got an email from a fellow blogger, writer and reader who had seen it and was sorry I yanked it, because it was a good thing for people to think about. So here it is again.
I am so tired of writers trashing other writers in public. It makes me nuts every time I see a post on the forums where someone is singling out someone and saying how bad the book is and how it's an example of the failure of publishing. A few typos in a book means the editors "let stuff slip through" because they're lazy or didn't care. As long as the book has a plot that can sell, it doesn't matter how badly the book is written.
Hogwash, folks. Utter hogwash.
There is no cookie cutter template for good. Every book that someone paid someone else to publish is good by somebody's standards. Those standards vary wildly. And they're all right, because everyone has their own taste.
Just because you don't like a book doesn't mean it's bad. It just means you didn't like it. I have books I haven't liked that have hit the best seller list. Authors whose work I can't get three pages into. That doesn't mean they're bad books, just not my kind of book. In fact, I read a book recently that I thought was so-so, but I have two friends I recommended it to because I know they will love it. It's their kind of book.
Those in the publishing world work hard to bring us great books, and they want the best product they can make. They take pride in their books. They love books or they wouldn't be doing it. To say that they "let" stuff slip by is just petty. Look at your own manuscript. How perfect is it? Can you honestly say there isn't a single typo, a single awkward phrase or misused word in it? I sincerely doubt it. People make mistakes. People miss things. No matter how carefully you proof something, things slip by. And it's called "slipping by" because they sneak by unnoticed. No one is out there reading a galley and thinking, "Wow, look at all those errors. We'll let it go and maybe no one will notice."
And then there's just the tackiness of it all. Think about how much you want to get published. How would you feel if folks said nasty things about your work and called your writing horrible adjectives on a public forum? It's hard enough seeing reviews where someone didn't like our books, but random people just being mean?
Come on, folks, show a little compassion. Put yourself in the shoes of those authors. Is that how you want to be treated when you finally sell your book?
Let's think about that, too, for a moment. Once your words are out there. they're OUT there. Those post is a great example since I deleted it after a brief time, and yet someone still found and read it. One day you might be looking for blurbs for you own book, and the author you (or your publisher) asks might Google you for some background info. How ghastly would it be for them to find something horrible you said about them once on a forum? Kiss that potential boost to your career goodbye. Not a reputation you want to have.
Say what you want in private to your friends, but don't be mean just to be mean, or to vent frustration because someone you don't like has published when you haven't yet. It's not helpful to anyone, and you end up looking foolish to boot. It sounds more like sour grapes than a thoughtful critique of another's work. If you really need to speak out, then do it diplomatically. Make it clear it's how you felt about it for XYZ reasons. Find something positive to say in addition to the negative. Because for every book you hate, someone thinks it's the best book they ever read. Don't snipe at it and act like your word is the final say on the matter. Cause it isn't.
It's mean, it's tacky, and it's hurtful. And shouldn't we strive to be better than that?