March 6, 2011 by Renee
This post began as one about characterization, and I suppose it still is in a way. I think we need to talk about the character which we as writers put out into the world. Twitter and various other sites have recently been ablaze with something called the YA mafia and some project that sparkles or glitters, something pretty and shiny, anyway…WTF?
I will not post links to anything on either side of this insanity. I simply want to discuss this as a whole in terms of pitfalls that can trip up new writers.
I read a couple of posts related to this mafia and this project, and man, I wonder what this world is coming to when we’re overcome by the temptation to abuse the anonymity that the internet provides. Tearing apart writers under a pseudonym or an avatar, so that we can anonymously get our kicks and suffer no consequences screams “Look at me! I’m a coward! Kiss my anonymous yellow ass.” Are we or are we not adults? Yes? Let’s act as adults act then. Own what we say, take our lumps if we say something stupid.
Apparently we have in the publishing world something that is called the YA mafia. This is the latest conspiracy theory. Have you ever heard of anything so ridiculous in your life? These powerful authors who make up this badass group, methodically work together to ruin the careers of writers who dare to speak against them or (eek) give them a bad or negative review. They spend their days scheming and plotting to bring the little guy down. I say little guy, because allegedly, these are bestselling authors doing this scheming. Boy, they must have an awful lot of time on their hands. I can’t wait to write a bestseller so I can twiddle my thumbs all day. (sarcasm)
Deep breath now. In…out….good. Let’s be adults and examine this a little more…realistically. Ruining careers? No one, and I do mean no one, can ruin your career but you. Got it? If you do stupid things, consequences will happen. You put negative out there and negative will come back at you. It’s life. Suck it up. Publishers and agents have a mind of their own and are not going to be swayed because one of ‘their’ authors says “Oh, so and so is a horrible and awful person and you should never represent/publish them.” Seriously folks. Think about that for just a moment. Agents and publishers are out to make money. If they didn’t represent damn fine writing simply because one of their clients dislikes that person, how the hell are they going to make money? They’re going to represent another, less talented writer instead in order to keep the client happy? I think not. The mafia? Doesn’t exist. Even if it did, my opinion is that it would be a highly ineffective group.
As for these reviews in this project…ahem. From what I’ve seen, the only readers paying attention are readers who aren’t thinking for themselves. Do I read book reviews? Of course I do. Do I base my decision to buy a book on reviews? Yes, all the time. If I see a nasty review where the reviewer tears the author a new one, I. Buy. That. Book. Tell me I shouldn’t and I just have to see why. If I see glowing reviews with nothing but fluff, meh, I might or might not buy it. When friends review a book and critique the writing in an intelligent and reasonable manner, stating that they didn’t like it because….I might hesitate to buy that book. First, these are readers whose tastes I know, and second, they aren’t reviewing to tear someone down. They’re offering an opinion and nothing else. When did book reviews become a way to rip someone apart? They’re supposed to be about the book, not the author. I suppose I’m naive or just poorly informed and it’s always been this way.
What should writers do about such things? I can’t say I wouldn’t be very eager to retaliate should I be the target of such nastiness. My Irish would definitely rise to that challenge. However, my common sense would ask why I’d fuel the fire.
The important thing for all authors, published or unpublished, to remember is that we reap what we sow. If you tear apart another author out of jealousy or spite, it will come back to bite you in the ass. If you make shit up in order to make your actions look reasonable, it too will come back to haunt you. Karma, baby. Belive in it.