I’ve spoken about my disdain towards all bullies before, but I think it’s time that I put all this out there – everything I think and everything I’ve been through. There may very well be some naughty words, and if that offends you, there’s a handy dandy little “x” you can click right now.
First and foremost: Have you seen how many posts there are against bullying—in particular lately? Perhaps you should FREAKING TAKE A HINT.
Throughout my school years, I was bullied rather horrendously to the point of being afraid to go to school at times. I survived that as many other adolescents, but I’m 25 (almost 26) now. I don’t HAVE to put up with this crap. I’m not going to.
Since I entered the indie author world nearly a year ago, I’ve seen many things happen that I haven’t liked. Many times I have spoken out, but there are many times I haven’t. This is the comprehensive open letter, and there will not be another one. The bullying in the author world is NOT isolated to only authors. Everyone in the industry has been or WILL be targeted at one point or another. It is inevitable that you will piss off a vindictive person who has nothing better to do than to target and destroy everything that you have worked hard for.
I am no exception to this rule. There was a time when I even received a death threat over something so trivial that it was almost laughable. Yes, a wee little cover artist got a death threat in this industry. At that time, I was in shock. My reputation (personal and business) was being trashed, and I can honestly say that I lost significant business over this. Am I going to name names? Nope. It’s honestly not important. Why give someone recognition for being immature? There were times that I considered shutting my business down because I was so sick of the way people act. But then I remembered that I’m a stubborn bitch, and I stayed in business on some days out of nothing more than spite. I’m not a victim, and I will not let these type of people win. I’m not saying this to get pity or sympathy. This isn’t a ploy to get everyone to go support the cover artist who was bullied. This is just a reminder that this is happening rampantly, and some of the most vicious people are probably people you know and would never expect to be involved.
To book reviewers: If you review books, congratulations, but you need to remember that you are not a god or goddess. Personally, I could care less about what someone says about a book. If I want to read a book, I will read it regardless of if it has 1 or 5 stars. However, on the other hand, there are many people who put a lot of stock into what a reviewer has to say. I’m not saying that you have to like everything that you read. There are books that I cannot stand, and I would gouge my eyes out before reading them again. But I’m not attacking the author. Criticism is good and even necessary – as long as it’s CONSTRUCTIVE.
Some reviewers are not writers. To those reviewers, I say this: remember that these books are not just books to the authors. They are not characters. To many, these “characters” are as real as the other people in their life. Again, you don’t have to like everything, but you don’t need to be a jerk about it. Saying things like, “A good writer does this, this, and this.…” And who are YOU again? Who are you to say what a writer can and cannot do? EVERYTHING is about PERSPECTIVE. Writers who break the rules are usually the ones who go down in history – not the writers who regurgitate the same story over and over again.
To the reviewers who are also writers I say this: IT’S NOT YOUR BOOK. It’s not YOUR story. Remember that. I’ve seen so many reviewers say stuff like, “Well, I wouldn’t have done this or that….” And your name is on the book cover there? You’ve published how many books? Are all YOUR reviews five stars across the board which are written by REAL readers? No? Perhaps one should spend time on their own book and ensuring its perfection before telling other authors that their story sucks. Considering the old adage “no one and nothing is perfect,” I think it’s safe to say that you aren’t. I’m not, and I don’t claim to be.
Ultimately, it all comes down to having TACT. Winston Churchill said it best, “Tact is the ability to tell someone to ‘go to hell’ in such a way that they look forward to the trip.” Be mindful of your wording on reviews. Saying something like, “This is the worst book I’ve ever read…” is not helpful in ANYWAY to the reader or the author. It’s not what you say; it’s how you present your case. If you found something to be repetitive, FIND A NICE WAY TO SAY IT. If you found the pace too slow or too fast, FIND A NICE WAY TO SAY IT.
To authors: There are going to be plenty of people who don’t like your writing. It’s going to happen. AND THAT IS OKAY. If you’re not writing for yourself because it’s something you love, then why are you writing to begin with? If you’re just pushing out books only to make money then you’re probably in this industry for the wrong reason. When you stop loving what you’re doing, take a step back and figure out why. Is it because you’re not making sales? Is it because you’re being attacked? Are you just burned out? Once you realize the reason then you can create a plan for combating it. Don’t give up and don’t give in. You don’t have to be a best seller to touch someone’s life. But conversely, being a bestseller doesn’t give YOU any rights to be a complete asshole to anyone and everyone who helped you get to where you are.
The main thing that needs to be remembered though is this is a profession, therefore YOU need to be professional, tactful, and kind. Yes, you. Before you start saying OHMYGAWD EVERYONE HATES ME AND I’M GOING TO GO EAT WORMS AND DIE, make sure that you have not fed into or exacerbated the problem. If you haven’t, then by all means, here’s a can of worms. If you have, shut it, learn from it, and don’t do it again. Having everyone and their mother go attack a reviewer PERSONALLY does, in fact, qualify you to chill in the same category as the people who attacked YOU in your review or whatever to begin with. STOP PERPETUATING THE CYCLE. You’re an adult – so ACT LIKE IT.
Also, if you contract services from an editor, formatter, cover artist, or whatever, FOLLOW THROUGH. Respect them. We are all human, and yes, we can make a mistake. If we do, address it with the person involved – not your fan club, street team, personal assistant, and everyone else. Editors might miss something. Formatters might indent a paragraph with a tab rather than preformatting it. A cover artist might have a different creative vision than you. Remember that YOU contracted THEM to do something that YOU cannot do or know someone (IE them) would do better. YOU are not perfect and neither are WE. If you don’t like something, explain why and be constructive. Don’t just say, “No. That’s not it,” and shut down a conversation. Also, yes, you are a client, and we are proprietors, but that does NOT mean that gives you a license to be rude. Say please. Say thank you. Don’t just say, “I don’t like this. Fix it.” It’s not cool, and we will remember it. And most importantly, these are BUSINESSES. Don’t expect EVERYTHING for free. Yes, we may cut you a deal, but don’t expect a deal every time. And if you don’t get a deal, that’s not a reason to start telling everyone that so & so won’t work with you…when they HAVE worked with you in the past.
It’s good to have an opinion, and it’s good to express that opinion – when it’s in a constructive way.
To anyone who has been bullied / attacked, you’re not alone. There are more people who have been bullied than there are bullies. So stand up and stand together. If you see someone talking shit, say something TO THE PERSON. You are stronger than you know. Stick your middle fingers up in the air and plant your feet firmly on the ground. There is no better revenge than success.
To anyone who is a bully, please GTFO. Click unlike / unfriend / unfollow and be on your merry way. If I see you being a jerk, I will call you out on it and I will also delete you. This is your warning. If you don’t like that, well then, DON’T BE A BULLY AND A JERK. Clearly you have some issues in YOUR life YOU need to deal with since you feel the need to belittle others. Perhaps look into therapy?
Here’s the too long didn’t read version: BULLIES: STOP BULLYING PEOPLE AND GROW THE HELL UP. SURVIVORS: PUT THE PEACE SIGN UP AND THE INDEX DOWN.
And I probably WILL get flack for this. The people who have previously caused me trouble will likely try again and perhaps add in some new people. This isn’t about me; this is about ALL OF US. Stand up. Stand together.
Oh and one more thing: if any of this offended you, you probably are a jerk and/or a bully.