To Tour or not to Tour

me: I think I may write about how much of a book tour is living out the “writer’s life fantasy” vs how much of it is effective marketing.
Elvis: How about “how much of the book tour is not going from tv show to tv show and 4 star hotel to 4 star hotel, but instead is driving a lot of interstate miles to sit at a table in a bookstore and watch people go stampeding past you to look for the new Twilight novel”

Sometimes in our pursuit of publication, we fall in love with parts of our dreams.  We develop these romantic notions of what the writing life is like.  Imagine ourselves writing in a coffee shop, sipping our chai while writing the Great American Novel.  We dream of getting an agent, getting a big book deal. We dream of book tours and signings with lines going out the door; of setting up tables with banners, stacks of our books, and a special pen to sign with.  We dream of advances and royalties large enough to live on (if not necessarily of Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, or James Patterson proportions).

Sometimes we short circuit the dream, accepting counterfeits that allow us to go through the motions of the dream (falling for vanity presses or being poorly published) or don’t fully think through aspects of the dream.  Right now, my big issue is whether or not to tour.

Keep in mind, the first thing I have to do is justify to my wife and kids why they will be without me more.  After all, they’ve had to deal with my absence while writing the book.  Once I typed “the end” they expected to have their husband and father back.  Now I have to look them in the eyes and say “I’ll be back.  I just need to jaunt around the country to promote the book.”  And when I’m done, I will sit down and begin a new book, with a new round of absence.  So in this age of author web sites, platforms, social media, Second Life, and all manner of e-industry, is a book tour actually necessary?

I’ll fully admit, I am quite cognizant of the fact that as a newbie author, if I announce a signing, most folks aren’t going to know who I am.  I know the reality of such signings is that I will be sitting behind a table with a stack of unsold books and a stupid, yet welcoming, grin on my face.  And I can’t just whip out my notepad and begin writing my next novel, because I have to be constantly making nice nice with folks.  My dream cognizance also factors in my book envy should I be sitting next to Gary Braunbeck and Lucy Snyder, watching their long line of admirers while I twiddle my thumbs.

Seriously, this is what I think about.

So, what would I accomplish on my imaginary tour?  Unless I sell dozens of copies per event, I’m not going to make much back in terms of my royalty to cover my gas or time, much less being able to get something to eat afterwards.  On the actual productive side of things, I would sign available stock and treat the bookstore employees like the precious commodities they are.  They will be the ones doing the selling and (re-)ordering of my books.

When all is said and done, I’ll probably take it easy, as in, I’m not going to live out of my car for three months traveling up and down the coast.  I will make a few appearances in my local book stores to do readings and signings.  Ditto when I go to conventions and I may mix in hitting a few local spots while I’m there; maybe even work in a couple stops with family vacations.  I’m just not convinced that full blown book tours are worth the effort.  What do you think?

[BIB/ReadersRoom] The Fear

So I’ve been signed to a three book deal. Now how does it feel?

This is a common question that I’ve gotten and the honest answer is that I’m excited and terrified. Of course there’s the requisite celebration, after all, it’s a three book deal. To date, I’ve written five novels. After years of struggling to sell one novel, I’ve finally sold one plus two I haven’t written yet. Fifth times a charm.

And it’s terrifying. This is it. This is the dream I’ve been working toward. What I’ve sacrificed for. What I’ve thought about and through for so long. I’ve often said that it takes ten years to become an overnight success and that getting published is 90% persistence. During that time you are preparing yourself for the eventual opportunity. Honing your craft. Disciplining yourself. Broadening your contacts. Developing your professionalism. Learning to meet deadlines. All the while, you remain open to opportunities that come along. And when that opportunity comes along, it can be frightening.

This is a variation of the fear of success that many of us suffer from. Generally speaking, every stage of your writing career is filled with fear. Fear of the blank page and beginning to write. Fear of finishing, after all, writers finish things. Fear of editing and being critiqued (our stories are our children and we don’t want anyone to hurt our precious). Fear of submitting (eventually we have to send our children, hopefully prepared or at least fully edited, out into the world).

Now I have deadlines, that feeling of writing under the gun. Of feeling rushed (yet, ironically, realizing at the same time knowing I’m doing and writing exactly the same way I’ve been writing, except more focused and disciplined). I have 18 months to write 300K words. That’s a lot of words. That’s also no way to think of the project, but the part of you that nurtures that nervous ball in the pit of your belly rolls that fact around in your head. Part of you begins to second guess and doubt yourself.

Because you don’t want to fail. The fear creeps back in, reminding you that this is your big chance, that this is what you’ve dreamed of. To not blow it. Nor do you want to let down the writing, the craft, itself. Nor your readers, neither the ones you’ve accumulated up to this point or the new ones you hope to gain with each new project . There there are your publisher and other folks who’ve believed in you or gambled on you with the opportunity (understanding that when all is said and done, this a business).

And I know for me, I don’t want to disappoint my wife. She’s sacrificed and believed in me and I want to show her that it was worth it even though I know she doesn’t care how “big” I get as long as I’m using my gifts and talents.

And yes, I want to succeed. I’m not imagining that I’ll be the next King of Rowling (no more than we all dream of that kind of success). But even the idea of success fills me with the kind of dread that has me reaching for the covers to crawl under and hide for a while.

So you stare down the mocking blank page.

And you remember to take it one word, one paragraph, one scene at a time. If nothing else mindful of the sacrifices, the hard work; knowing that you want this and that you’ve got this. Letting the looming deadline (and in my case, the voice of a lady at my church who read the first novel and is demanding that I finish the second so that she can read the next part) help you conquer your fear.

Never let them see you sweat. And you start to write.*

*Right after you’re done procrastinating by blogging.

Living With a Writer

There she is, front and center. Do you see the glee on my wife’s face? Matched only by the devilish glint in Christie White’s eyes. You bear witness to the “what the hell was Wrath James White (and apparently Monica O’Rourke) thinking putting our wives together as the tag team of evil” on the panel the Seven Deadly Sins of Living With a Writer: the Highs and Lows of Life With A Writer at KillerCon. I am still torn about whether this was the worst idea ever or the most insightful panel I’ve witnessed in a while.

It sprang originally from a panel at Mo*Con IV where we were discussing what it was like as writers to be married to spouses who were fellow writers. Apparently the non-writing spouses wanted a voice in the matter. An interesting phrase was used by Karen Lansdale. She referred to what she called “the curtain,” the all-too-visible expression on our faces we get when it’s obvious that we’re in our heads writing.

This became evident to me on two occasions within the past week or so. My youngest son, Malcolm, employs a screech (it’s the most awful sound you’ll ever hear) when it’s time for me to help him with his homework. He says it’s to get my attention because he knows I’m writing. In other words, he’s learned already that he has to pierce the curtain. Even my boss recently commented that he recognizes the look of when my mind is no longer on the job, but rather working out plot points and character arcs.

We ask a lot of our spouses, wanting them to support us in different ways. To read our work, maybe even edit it, or let us run ideas by them. To us, that’s including you in the creative process, that part of our lives. Sometimes it’s a matter of taking care of the banalities (realities) of life, from having a career, providing little things like financial support and insurance benefits. Sometimes it’s a matter of giving us room to write by taking the kids out of the house so we can have peace and quiet to concentrate.

We can say “we’re working” all we want. Yes, hanging out on a message board and on blogs is work because it’s a matter of networking and interacting with fans Hanging out at a room party is work. Reading is work. Playing Scrabble on FaceBook counts as work (ok, a bit of a stretch, but I do play with my agent). As Leslie Banks pointed out, we’re like entrepreneurs in the middle of a business launch in terms of how much time, energy, and finances we pour into our career. Many times this is our second job (or even third for some of us).

Then there are the little things—which are bigger than we’d like to recognize things—that also take a toll. What we call “at least being there” as quality spouse or family time, they see as either just the back of our heads or just our eyes above the cover of our laptops as we write. We also ask them (sometimes just expect them) to give up a slice of their privacy as they find out that parts of their life has been shared within a bit of fiction. Be it arguments or personal situations. Many of us have had that … “corrective memo” … delivered to us that what was put in a story wasn’t meant for public consumption. (Does this sound familiar: “but honey, no one will know that you said this or this happened to you.” * “But I’ll know.” This scene may or may not be followed by a night on the couch.)

And they have to put up with our moods, the emotional frisson of creation, or what my wife may call my silent cry for the need for medication. (The “existential terror” sounds too grandiose for what she simply refers to as my “mood”.) The process is like giving my personal demons shape and substance, the accompanying mix of anger and depression that comes as I leap from inside one character’s head to another. Even friends find me especially hard to read if I’m not present in the moment but rather half in a character’s head wondering how’d s/he’d respond in that situation.

And I appreciate how great my wife has been about understanding all of this and put up with me. At the same time, I’ve promised to try to do better at being present with her and the family, learning to be in the moment and raising the curtain. It’s funny how any of us can be at home yet functionally absent, focused on whatever side project or work we’re doing.

Plus, there’s no winning an argument when I have to say at any point “seriously, honey. I was googling ‘autoerotic asphyxiation’ for research for my novel!”

[BIB/ReadersRoom] Our Bi-Directional Assumption of Trust

When a publisher of any repute buys a book from you, it’s a bi-directional assumption of trust. The author trusts that the publisher will do their best to edit, publish, and market your title. The publisher trusts that the author will do their very best to see that their book is a success by taking it on themselves to do a respectable amount of self-promotion.

We tend to forget that when we get published, we writers join with our presumptive publishers in a peculiar relationship, this “bi-directional assumption of trust”. There are certain things I want the publisher to do for me, the things I might not necessarily be capable of doing for myself (or which they can do better) as we partner in the promotional efforts for our project. Because, indeed, my book becomes “our” book, as their advance indicates an investment in me/it.

Small press or large press, when you are considering who to go with as a publisher (especially if you are weighing the traditional route vs. self-publishing) there are several things you want to consider. Better said, there are certain things you want the publisher to do for you.

Here are some of the things I expect from my Publisher (even small press ones):

-distribution (my book into as many venues as possible)
-getting my book into libraries
-getting my book into book clubs (especially not forgetting urban book clubs)
-trade advertising (Weird Tales, Cemetery Dance, Shroud, Publisher’s Weekly, etc)
-press releases (Gila Queen, FearZone, Weird Fiction News, Hellnotes, HorrorWeb, etc.)
-advertising on book specialty web sites (CushCity is a site recently brought to my attention)
-full support on the publisher’s web site (you think would be a given, yet …)
-sending out review copies
-in house street team efforts (for instance, message board announcements)
-tip in sheets, bookmarks, postcards, and other promotional materials.

Basically, I want to see that I’m being taken seriously as a product. On my end, I tend to bring my marketing plans to the table so that the publisher knows what to expect from me. Even when I publish with the small press, I put in the work:

-I will make convention appearances, schmooze and do signings
-I specifically target black bookstores with my marketing efforts
-I give full platform support (my blog, FaceBook, MySpace, Twitter)
-I personally send out review copies (again, with a focus on black reviewers and places my publisher my have missed/not thought about)
-I do podcasts and interviews.

Ultimately, it’s about protecting your brand. And yes, cries of the struggling artist aside, you are a brand. One that deserves to be treated specially and promoted seriously, by you and your publisher.

[BIB/ReadersRoom] – Blogging about Blogging*

Today’s writing related question: Bloggers: how do you blog? Toss out a post whenever inspiration strikes, build up a reserve? Or have a set time of day? If so, when?

This is almost a twist on the question “how do you find the time to write?” (okay, it’s not really, I just really like that blog post). Actually, this question gave me all the excuse I needed to answer a different question: just how many words to I blog in a year. I finally got around to doing that math:

2005 – 168,000
2006 – 238,000
2007 – 189,000
2008 – 143,000

In short, I write about two novels worth of words a year in blogs (and now I also see why I fondly remember 2006 as my best blogging year. I went nuts with reviews and thinking A LOT about stuff, mostly my faith. Also that year my family faced A LOT of tragedy so I was

working through a lot of that. I find that a good chunk of the blogs I write today end up linking to blogs I wrote that year. I can also note that my production went down considerably in 2008 as I had more work to do in terms of stories requested by editors).

My blog started off as a weird competition between me and a friend of mine. It has since evolved (… uh, no, there was no scene involving an “I win! I win” dance) because blogging gave me a way to build an audience for my writing when I didn’t have much published at the time. And it has given me many other writing opportunities to do other writing. So, does blogging take away from my real writing time? No, I consider blogging PART of my real writing time.

I understand that the time I spend blogging is time that I could be working on a novel or a short story or an article. Last year I began being more methodical about my blog that would allow for regular updates, spontaneous blogs, and getting more story/paid writing done (since as of last year, I had a lot more editors asking me for stories).

I try to have a reserve of blogs set up in advance. Since there are times when I have more time to blog (usually between story/novel projects: I have found that it’s hard for me to blog regularly while “creating” new words/universe but I have no problems blogging while editing or revising a story). Unless it’s time sensitive, I spread them out over a period of weeks (if I’ve truly worked ahead). Right now, I have 2 – 3 week’s worth of blogs done as I gear up to write a story I promised an editor (more on that later if she likes the end result).

If inspiration (or need) arises, I go with it. But I’ve found that having a surplus helps because there are times when I have spent a lot of time thinking on one topic, say for example race relations, and end up writing a series of blogs on that topic. Then I spend a lot of time thinking about something else, for example, faith, and produce a lot of blogs on that topic. I’m well aware that I have a cross-pollinated audience who might not be interested in a protracted series on one topic, so by working on them in advance, I can sort them better (so that it’s not all blocks of reviews, or theology, or race stuff, or writing).

I also set things to post between 6 and 8 a.m. that way they are there first thing in the morning … when people arrive at work and are goofing off by cruising the internet (and also why you want you “big” blogs coming out on Mondays). However, I regularly violate another blog rule: the best blog length is about 300 words (500 at the outside). With pictures.

So yes, my blogging is part me being conscious of marketing myself.** However, as much of a bump as my blog traffic gets with regular posting or a particular blog getting a lot of links/exposure, it’s nothing like the marketing that comes with, you know, actual stories being released.

*“That’s like jerking off by thinking about masturbating.” –Richard Danksy
** “And wasted if you don’t have enough to market.” –Richard Danksy, in the name of tough love, because blogging shouldn’t become a replacement for the other writing I should be doing.

[BIB/ReadersRoom] Online Billboards?

You remember when we were told that everyone had to have a website? Then participation on message boards was a must. Then we all had to have a blog. Now life is all about the social networking sites. I’m having a hard time believing that all of this stuff is worth putting my effort into. I have precious few hours to write as is, yet I find that when I sit down, I have to do a lot of what amounts to maintaining my online presence. It varies from checking in on a few message boards (my own included) to e-mail to the various social networking places … and eats up hours of my life. Is it all worth it?

JA Konraths blogged about fixing your online billboards and casting your net because to him, the answer is yes. Online billboards, as he defines them, are places “on the Internet where you have a little bit of property people pass through.” Your online presence may not directly translate into book sales, but it is a way for new potential readers to find you and for you to interact with them. So in short, your online presence, whatever they might amount to, is designed to attract new readers.

So I made a list of my online presence:

My website – which I’m preparing to re-vamp a bit

My Blog – where I touch on a lot of my favorite themes: race, spirituality, pop culture, and writing

Twitter – for the record, a lot of gibberish runs through my mind

My Message Board – my main interaction with folks

MySpace – I mirror my blog over there

FaceBook – this can be a sink hole of time, but other than my message board, I hang out here the most

The remainder of my billboards I need to do more with:

Goodreads

LinkedIN

SmallerIndiana

RedRoom

So, I have a few, some I’m more active on than others. I can think of quite a few writers who have made names for themselves with absolutely no web presence and I know I’d rather be spending my time writing (cause, wow, have I mentioned how FaceBook and MySpace can be time sinks if you let them be?) Whether this effort translates into sales is debatable. At the very least, you’re out there talking to new potential readers. Don’t get me wrong: FaceBook alone has destroyed any hopes of a serious professional image on my part. (Yay Broaddus Christmas party pics!) However, the more signs you have pointed to your books, the better. And a little bit of effort goes a long way.

At the very least, if you’re already on one of these sites, come friend me.

On Agent Hunting

It’s query season. Yeah, as part of the care and feeding of my writing career, I’m beginning another round of an agent hunt. These rounds always coincide with the completion of a new novel manuscript length project. I’ve finished my third novel now. The first two haven’t sold, but I can see my progress as a writer from novel to novel (to the point where I recently went back to re-work my first one as it was filled with “first time writer” stuff).

One of the benefits of having a network of friends is that you can not only draw on their experience, but also their inside knowledge about agents. Okay, sometimes they’ll try and hook you up with their agents. I do have some other things that I am looking for in an agent, you know, the whole competency at their job thing. Thus, I have come up with a few criteria for my future possible agent.

1. Don’t do crack. I keep thinking of the “Randy Moss lesson”:

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. ?? An agent for Randy Moss was charged with possession of crack cocaine after police were called to a hotel to investigate a disturbance, authorities said…

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from watching athletes and agents, it’s that my name will be the one in the papers when my agent has issues. You’d think I’d aim a little higher in the “things to look for” department, but I thought this was worth putting near the top. In my experience, limited though it may be to episodes of The Corner, drug use doesn’t indicate the best money management abilities. Additionally, a crackhead probably wouldn’t make for the best ambassador for me.

2. Don’t be a part of my social circle. I’m all about community, however, business is business. My agent will not my childhood buddy, will not a distant relative, and will not some friend of my mom’s. For example, I have a best friend (yes, I’m part 12 year old girl). He won’t be my agent. On the other hand, he has already put his hat in the ring for being a part of my posse.

3. Do not have a psychotic break. Especially online. The occasional breakdown I can live with. We all have them. Try not to have them too publicly and we’re good. You’d think one wouldn’t have to say that, but you’d also think that you wouldn’t have to remind folks that the internet is forever. While I’m on this topic, blogs should be professional. Yours AND your prospective agents. I don’t want to know about my agents pets, arguments with neighbors, shouting matches with writers (wait, strike that, yeah I do. I’m a gossip whore), or anything related to their sex life. I’m sure prospective agents think similarly when they check out your blog after they get your query letter. And allow me to assure you that your blog, your MySpace, whatever presence you have online are all checked out soon after that query is opened.

4. Why don’t you NOT have publishing ventures on the side. I don’t want my agent dabbling in being a publisher or even a writer, truth be told. The words conflict of interest tend to pop up.

The way I see it, an agent is someone else to fight certain battles for me. They tend to the business side of the craft and I don’t have to exhaust myself trying to learn a second job in the field of publishing. While it’s important to educate yourself as much as possible about the business and develop a strong set of contacts, I’m not presumptuous enough to think I can do an agents job as well as an agent. It’s a different skill set.

Plus, in general, I’m a nice, easy-going guy. Prone to let folks walk on me. So I need someone else to be the professional a-hole and look out for my/their interests. I suppose I ought to, you know, be eventually useful in this post. And by way of token effort, I’ll direct you to some interesting reading:

Lucy A. Snyder wrote a great blog on how she got her agent. One of the things she touches on is the importance of an agent as she compares and contrasts her book deal via an agent vs. her husband’s who went the majority of the time sans agent.

Also recommended reading, John Scalzi’s blog on why you need an agent: foreign markets edition. What he knows about foreign markets “could fill a thimble”, but he has an agent who is fascinated by those markets. Which means basically free money for him.

BIB – Networking

When I talk to some newbie writers about networking, they seem to hear it as butt-kissing or something they shouldn’t have to do in order to get published. They want no part of the politics of writing/publishing. Typically I hear this from the self-published crowd who tend to show little interest in the business aspect of writing. (Ironic since if you are going to go the self-publishing route, you should know the business side of things even better). So this isn’t for them.

One of the reasons we go to conventions is to network. It’s why we spend so much time on message boards, blogs, and social networking sites. While publishing largely boils down to what you write, the business side of things is eased by who you know. Friends make things easier. I know that as my career has slowly blossomed (I figure I’m in year eight on my road to overnight success), friends are there to encourage me, be first readers of my stories, edit me, and blurb me as needed.

This is not a call to be an unrepentant climber. Name-badging people and ignoring them if they “can’t be of use to you” isn’t going to win you any friends (and people know when they have been snubbed). This mercenary way of going through life will be quickly recognized. It’s about the relationship first. I know when someone is using me to raid my connections, hanging around with me just because of who I hang out with, or talking with me in order to talk to who I’m talking to. I know it’s a part of the game, but if you’re going to so transparently use me, at least buy me dinner first. Networking isn’t about using or ass-kissing people, it’s simply about building relationships, for their own sake.

Malcolm Gladwell, in his book The Tipping Point: How Little Things can make a Big Difference, described these people as connectors, people who “link us up with the world … people with a special gift for bringing the world together.” Connectors are people in a community who know large numbers of people and who are in the habit of making introductions. A connector is essentially the social equivalent of a computer network hub. Connectors usually know people across an array of social, cultural, professional, and economic circles, and make a habit of introducing people who work or live in different circles.

Some people are natural networkers. Some people have to work at it.

Writers in general aren’t the most socially comfortable people. The bulk of what we do is done in solitude and the business side of art, networking, glad-handing, and nurturing/being with fans doesn’t necessarily come easily. So I offer a few simple tips to proper networking:

-Be genuine. Be true to yourself and your personality. Don’t try to mimic someone else. For example, I can’t do other people’s material. They’re likely funny in ways that I’m not and vice versa. Personality-wise, I can only be me. I’ll never be a Fran Friel, a Kelli Dunlap, a Chesya Burke, a Brian Keene or any of the other budding rock stars of the horror community. Their acts are their own. But that’s the secret: be your own act.

-Be naturally interested in people, for their own sake, without an agenda. You don’t make friends by first asking what they can do for you. You don’t make friends based on who they are or where they are in their careers. If for no other reason that you don’t know what twists fate may have in store for them or you, don’t burn bridges before they’ve formed.

-Be friendly. You are with your peers, people who get what you do and how you do it. You get to cut loose (within reason), and solidify working relationships with fellow writers, editors, agents, and fans. As JA Konrath said, “When we writers go anywhere, we become ambassadors for our writing.”

Sometimes it is difficult getting spouse to see networking as something other than goofing off (I don’t understand my own wife’s confusion on the issue). Regardless, networking is an important part of any industry. Honestly, it’s part of the fun for me since basically I get to build a network of connections through conversation. And I love running my mouth.

***
If you want to make sure that I see your comment or just want to stop by and say “hi”, feel free to stop by my message board. We always welcome new voices to the conversation.

[BIB] – Black Marketing

(crosss-posted on Blogging in Black/Readers Room)

A while back, I did a series of blogs/interviews with some of my black horror writing colleagues. As it turns out, I ended up doing a collaboration with one of them. Wrath James White and I wrote the novella Orgy of Souls. To our editor’s delight, we quickly earned out our advance, but we’re not satisfied with that.

You see, the bulk of the marketing of the novella was done through the channels one would expect a horror novella to be marketed. The book is available at the Apex book store, Amazon, and Horror Mall. There have been the usual posts on horror message boards and advertising in horror magazines. (And when you have a publisher putting in the effort to market your work, you’re thankful because that’s less you ultimately have to do). The novella is now up at Fictionwise, the e-book is on sale for $4.24 for the next two weeks. (Fictionwise provides in a number of formats including Kindle, PDF, and eReader.)

So then I asked, what are we doing to market to the black community? While I was expecting “you’re the black writers. You’re supposed to tell me.” his response was “I’m gonna put someone on that. Any help would be appreciated.”

One of the contentions I’ve repeated made to horror publishers was that the black market was going ignored. No one can complain about a lack of readers when there are whole populations of readers going specifically ignored (a topic specifically discussed by my colleagues). So I’m putting together my list of black reviewers and black book clubs (RawSistaz and APOO I’m looking at you). I’m ramping up my presence on several black message boards (Black Science Fiction Society and the AAMBC). I’m making my list of black book stores in my area (X-Pression Bookstore & Gallery and Elevations Book & Coffee Shop) to arrange signings. I’m checking out the Carl Brandon Society. So as I’m thinking through the next phase of my marketing campaign, I’m turning to the Blogging in Black experts. What else would you recommend?

***
If you want to make sure that I see your comment or just want to stop by and say “hi”, feel free to stop by my message board. We always welcome new voices to the conversation.

[BIB] – Professional Correspondence: The Right to Hide One’s Ignorance

Cross-posted to Blogging in Black

I’ve refrained from commenting on this firestorm in a teapot 1) because I needed something to write about for this month’s blog for Blogging in Black and 2) because I know that EVERYONE follows the day to day online drama of genre writing.

Or maybe not, so let’s play catch up.

The overarching issue, in general, is whether we have the right to post personal/professional correspondence. On point, the issue is if you get a rejection letter from an editor and it contains racial epithets, should you post it on your blog?

Needless to say, some of the genre writers of color had a few words to say about this. Though the original site of the posted letter is undergoing some retroactive sanitation, the internet is forever and K. Tempest Bradford handled her business, not only preserving some of the note’s salient points but pretty much covering most of what I would have said on the topic.

Tobias Buckell dissected the various stages of racist thought (and then documented said offending editor’s further digging himself into a hole). Some people may consider these two writers part of the virtual lynch mob or participants in “political correctness run amuck” (a phrase usually doled out by a troll hiding behind a name like TooChickenSh*tToPostUnderMyRealNameButAren’tIBraveBehindMyKeyboard). To me they’re just frontline soldiers up against what we have to face entirely too often: a mentality that needs to be recognized for what it is, highlighted when it occurs, and rooted out.

Professionalism is a two way street. I, as a writer, should try and maintain professional practices as part of me submitting stories and corresponding to editors, agents, publishers, etc. I fully expect professional treatment in return from those self-same folks. I know plenty of editors who post missives received from disgruntled submitters, some delete the offenders names, some do not (preferring to leave the bloody stump of their head on a virtual spike on teh Interwebz as an example of what not to do).

The larger issue may be whether any correspondence should be posted on the Internet. Online etiquette says no, at least not without the person’s permission. “Piss me off etiquette” says you might reap what you sow. To be honest, I fully recognize that this is a digital age, so ALL of my correspondence is written with the idea that it is one button click from being forwarded to the entire online world. I imagine most editors should know this, too.

***
If you want to make sure that I see your comment or just want to stop by and say “hi”, feel free to stop by my message board. We always welcome new voices to the conversation.