Writer Wednesday: Are You A Pro?

I’ve noticed a disturbing trend on one of the writing communities I visit, and I don’t think it’s a new thing. Some of the writers there tend to be disrespectful and unprofessional with anyone who doesn’t agree with them.  They pitch tantrums online over minor affronts.  Things like disagreements over grammar and word use, unfavorable critiques, and differences of opinion.  Rather than ignoring the person they have the disagreement with, these writers resort to namecalling and other inappropriate behavior on the forum, and often rant on their blog, naming, and calling, names.

Some act as if their opinion is the only possible one, and everyone who holds a different one is ignorant, which is by no means exclusive to writers.  In a debate over including sex in fiction, several posters acted this way, on both sides of the debate.  The debate grew quite heated, and one poster on the side who didn’t feel sex in fiction was appropriate said such things as “those who include sex are poor writers”.  She didn’t have enough respect for her fellow writers to recognize the validity of their writing, whether she disagreed with the subject matter or not.

In another interaction, one poster corrected a phrase used by another.  The one who originally posted the phrase insisted that 1.) her usage was correct when it clearly wasn’t, and several others backed up the one who corrected her, and 2.) it didn’t matter because it was a ‘casual’ post.  Rather than thanking the one who corrected, her, she argued about it through the majority of a thread that grew quite long.

If I were an editor or agent checking out posts made by a prospective client, and that writer argued with someone about such a trivial thing, I’d probably look much more closely before deciding whether to work with that person. One time could be just a bad day, but a habit of stubborn resistance to correction on a message board doesn’t bode well for the writer’s acceptance of criticism or editing of their work. IMHO, such behavior is sure sign of someone who’s difficult to work with at best, and more likely unprofessional.

The solution is simple.  Treat interactions about writing as a communication between professionals. Save the more casual forms of expression for more social interactions.  If the other party becomes unprofessional, ignore them — no matter how exasperated and angry they make you.  Write about it in your journal, but not in a public forum, where it can reflect poorly on you.  Remember that the other person is as entitled to their opinion as you are.  Of course, you’re entitled to defend your position, but do it in a courteous way that maintains your professional image.

When we interract online, we tend to forget that anyone who wants can watch.  People get to know us by the tone of our posts on writing communities. We develop a reputation in online communities for being either professional and easy to work with, or childish and petulant, or a know-it-all, or whatever.  Make sure your interactions reflect well on you. Agents, editors, and other writers don’t want to work with people whose attitude makes their job more difficult.  It’s important to remember that when we interact with others online.

The solitary nature of our work often makes us forget our interdependence on other writers.  By helping other writers promote their work, and giving them professional respect, we form valuable alliances in promoting our own work. Need a cover blurb? Better not ask the guy you called an idiot on a public forum 4 years ago. Positive review needed? Don’t ask the writer you delivered a scathing public critique to a few months ago.

What do you think? Do writers see their professionalism – or lack thereof – reflected in publishing opportunities or sales figures?

Six Sentence Sunday

Today’s six sentences are from BLOOD DRAGON. Jaden has been trying to seduce Kiellen, and even though he wants her… badly, he’s convinced she is mistaking gratitude for attraction, and that she will regret it later.

Jaden led him through the living room into her bedroom.

Kiellen put the brakes on. “Jaden, I can’t…” It was a lie. He absolutely could, and if she kept insisting, he would. Consequences be damned.

BLOOD DRAGON is now officially finished – editing complete! It is currently gracing the inboxes of several editors. Wish me luck that they’ll love it as much as I, and my beta readers, do.

The Beginning?!

This past week, an online community for romance writers that I belong to, RomanceDivas.com, hosted  what they call “Not Going To Conference Conference”, for those of us not fortunate enough to go to the RWA Conference in New York.

There were several online workshops on various writing related subjects. The presenters gave their information, and participants could ask questions on the forum and be answered by the presenters. There were tons of doorprizes, free books, critiques, ads, even a tarot reading, and other things. Participants commented in the thread mentioning the prize within a set period of time, then the winner was randomly selected from among the commenters. I won a copy of KJ Reed’s Faithful To A Fault.

There were also a number of editors from different publishers accepting pitches. Writers posted their pitch, usually a three sentence summary, in the comments of each editor’s post. Editors then PM’d the writers to ask to read their manuscripts, or posted in the comments in reply to writer’s pitch to request the submission. Editors representing Carina, Lyrical, Ellora’s Cave, Wild Rose Press, Entangled, and Liquid Silver Books accepted dozens of pitches.

I wasn’t quite finished with my final round of edits for Blood Dragon, but on a whim, I quickly put together my three sentence pitch, and posted to the editors from Carina. I still had a couple days’ work to do on the edits, but I wasn’t worried about it, since I’d put so little effort into my half-assed little pitch. It sucked and I was quite certain it would be ignored at best, laughed at probably.

Imagine my surprise when I received a PM from one of the Carina editors asking to see the full manuscript! So I replied to her that it would be a couple of days, but I would be thrilled to send it. At the same time, another editor was accepting pitches. Just for the hell of it, I posted my little pitch, minus the typos this time, in her thread. And she requested to see the manuscript!

By the end of the week, I had three requests for full manuscripts, an invitation to submit, and a request for more information. Something from each of the editors I pitched to. I missed pitching to the Liquid Silver Books editor, didn’t see her thread until it was already closed. If I’d seen it, I might have had another request. Of course, if none of the others work out, I can always submit to LSB through their regular process, at least.

When I got the request from the Carina editor, my first thought was that everyone who pitched received the same thing. I looked back at the pitch thread, to see how many people had posted. Several people posted follow up comments that they had gotten requests, and others posted back congratulating them. From the comments, I learned that I was one of a few, about 1/3 of those who pitched, to get requests.

Needless to say, I’ve spent every spare moment, since opening that message from the Carina editor, working on finishing up those edits. Now one last read-through to make sure everything is as perfect as I can make it, and I’ll be ready to hit send.

I can’t help feeling that it’s a momentous occasion. It marks the official starting point of my quest for publication. At this point, I’m fairly confident. I know I have a good story, and a fresh take on the creatures. I know my writing is passable, and I believe it’s actually pretty good. I even believe that one day, it’ll be really good, as long as I’m able to continue working toward improvement.

As soon as I have everything ready, I’ll take a deep breath, then click the “Send” button. I’ll be proud for a moment, maybe even eat some celebratory chocolate. Then I’ll spend the next few weeks in a state of absolute panic while I wait to hear back from the editors.

Then, to ward off the panic, I’ll jump right into the next novel – another weredragon/vampire paranormal romance. I have several outlined, so I’ll just choose one and start writing. Maybe I’ll also spend some time working on my new creatures, getting them ready to star in their own stories.

And hopefully, in a few weeks, I’ll hear from one of the editors that they would like to publish BLOOD DRAGON. Wish me luck!!