|Watch out for these three! :)
Type 1: The What's-In-It-For-Me Writer
We all know these people exist in our lives--people who won't do anything unless they see a benefit for themselves. It's not that people should be going around spending all their time doing selfless acts, and writing is a business, so you have to make wise decisions. But some writers are extremely self-centered, narcissistic, and un-generous. (I told you, this is not a positive post. SORRY!) Recently I heard a story about two writers who had the same publisher--we will call them Positive Polly and Selfish Sal. Positive Polly was looking for giveaways from writers while promoting her latest book, but also to give some of the other writers at her publishing house a chance to find new readers with free ebook giveaways (a tried and true marketing strategy, especially for series writers).
Selfish Sal jumped at the chance to promote himself, but then he quickly became difficult. He complained that he wasn't getting enough attention and that he never should have gifted anything to Positive Polly for a giveaway. He even went so far as to publicly call out Positive Polly--he said she wasn't doing enough for him when he graciously donated one ebook.
Do you think Positive Polly will ever work with Selfish Sal again? Of course not. She found several other writers who were more than happy to help her out, were easy to work with and considerate, and even thanked her for the opportunity to talk to Polly's readers. The What's-In-It-For-Me Writer will often spend hours complaining and writing some pretty awful emails instead of writing great books.
Type 2: The Harsh Critiquer/Editor
A critique group member or an editor has one job--to help the writer create the best manuscript possible. Yes, this can entail a lot of constructive criticism and suggestions for revisions and cuts. But this can be done WITHOUT insulting the writer or the work and squashing the dreams of a writer. It's a crime (or should be) that there are some editors and critique group members who are so cruel and critical that they make other writers doubt everything about themselves and their talent.
If you ever feel this way after receiving a critique, then get another one. I'm serious! I do a lot of editing and critiquing, and a good edit will be structured like a positive parent/teacher conference for the worst-behaved child in the class--the criticism of the child is sandwiched between positive traits, and it is worded in a way that is helpful to the student, not hurtful. Your manuscript, even the roughest draft, should be treated in this respected way.
Please don't let one harsh critique kill your dreams. Every one of us writers, even best-selling authors, can improve our craft and our storytelling, but there's always something positive in a manuscript to focus on first.
Type 3: The Breaker of Promises
This person is someone who promises (over and over again) to do something: give you a review, critique your work, show up at your events, share your book on social media, etc, in exchange for you doing something for them also (such as critiquing each other's work or reviewing each other's books). Now, we are all busy, and I have been guilty of taking on too much and being very forgetful; but if someone is doing something for me (critiquing my novel, showing up at my book events, taking my classes), then I make it a priority to return the favor and/or write a heartfelt email of why I can't. (Sometimes, being a single mom creates barriers beyond my control, but then I really try not to make promises I can't keep--still a learning process.)
The worst breaker of promises is in the following example. Let's say, you exchange books with another writer to write reviews for each other (after reading them--real, honest reviews), and you do yours in a timely manner. You wait a good amount of time, because you understand that life is busy, and inquire nicely if the person has had a chance to read your book yet, and you get an answer like: Well, I'm busy.
Well, WHO ISN'T?
There's really nothing you can do about these types of situations except the following: don't trust him or her again! "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." or "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."
A More Positive View
Now I have to end on a positive note. I am a glass half-full kind of gal. There are so many incredibly wonderful, amazing, generous, thoughtful, professional writers, editors, reviewers, bloggers, and readers out in the world whom you will meet. But this writing path you chose is not easy; and if you feel like someone in your writing career is toxic or hurting you or making you doubt yourself, they probably are. If he or she is a friend, try talking to this person first and see if you can work something out. If not, just wish the writer well and move on. If you are looking for some warm people, look no further. WOW! is full of them--on this blog and on our Facebook page.
by going here. She is also offering a marketing class starting this fall. Find out more about her at http://www.margoldill.com
Clay birds photo by JD Hancock on Flickr.com