Everybody, Just Calm the F*** Down

This blog post, as most of my blog posts, will cover several topics. But this time I have a theme. It’s called: Let’s get a fucking grip, people! Seriously.
You all wanted a good long rant, didn’t you? I haven’t indulged in a while.
Okay, first we’ll talk about me and my grip-losing insanity this week. For more than a year I’ve been querying agents and publishers. It began with a single manuscript and over that period has expanded to five manuscripts. Literally hundreds of queries have been sent between the five. I’ve researched each one and sent the queries only to agents or publishers I felt would like said manuscript and rejection, rejection, rejection was the result.
So I stopped querying. I’m pausing to catch my breath and decide what the hell it is I want out of this writing thing. Do I want to be published? Yes. Do I need a publisher? I think so. Do I need an agent? I’m not sure. Why not self-publish? Because I’ve worked hard and I want a publisher and I’m good enough to have a publisher and if I self-publish then it’s like I just wasted 18 months querying. Right?
I want to traditionally publish my book for more valid reasons than that. Really, it was a very well thought out decision that had little to do with which is better and more to do with what felt right to me personally.
Well, I have this one manuscript, I Do…And Other Lies We Tell, and it has become a giant pain in my ass. I’m telling you it just keeps giving me trouble. This is the manuscript that gets personal rejections nearly every time. Granted, it’s gotten a few form rejections, but I’d say 80 percent of the rejections for this one have been personal notes that were encouraging, but still turning me down. From commercial fiction agents/publishers I got this “While the writing is excellent, we feel you would be better served working with someone that handles literary fiction. It is not commercial enough for us. Sorry.” That’s it in a nutshell. One particular rejection stated that the characterization and dialogue in my sample chapters was “stellar”, but sorry, not commercial enough. Sigh.
So I changed my focus. I don’t feel it’s literary, but if the pros think it is so be it. I’ll query agents/publishers looking for literary fiction.
From literary agents/publishers I got “While we think the writing is strong, etc. this is not literary fiction. It is too commercial for what we represent/publish.” WTF? Come on now. How can it be too commercial and yet, too literary? This is not possible. Then I read this post by Nathan Bransford and I swear to you, I thumped my head off the table several times. I think I lost consciousness briefly, but that’s not important. Why hurt myself like that? Because I found my brain saying, “You should totally self-publish I Do, because it’s the only way it’ll be published. He’s totally right. The market is changing. You gotta change with it.” I wanted to stick a fork in my eye to shut my thoughts up. How could I, the one who is certain the path she wants to take in her career, even entertain the idea?
Then I went to bed, got up grumpy, drank a bucket of coffee and I got a grip. So what if I considered it? So what if self-publishing is sort of appealing. He’s right. Times, they are changing whether I like it or not. The publishing industry is drastically different than it was just a few years ago. It is a different game. Doesn’t it make sense to reconsider your options? I calmed down and here I am, gripped and sane.
What are your thoughts on Nathan’s post and my reaction? Should I? Is the industry so changed that anyone stands a better chance with self-publishing?
Now, onto the rest of you who insist on annoying me this week. Let’s begin with Twitter.
The world of Twitter is remarkably small. Oh yes, for all the billions of Tweeps there are out there, news travels at lightning speed, and so does reputation. You can ruin yourself real fast on Twitter.
It is a great marketing tool for writers. But please, folks, use it properly. Tweeting about your book and only your book is not how you market on Twitter. I’m sorry, but if you post a dozen or more times each day a link to both your book or your blog and nothing else, I am going to unfollow you so fast it’ll make your head spin. No, I don’t care if you unfollow me back. I don’t want you on my list anyway. Will I buy your book? Hell no. The title now annoys me so much because it keeps FILLING UP MY TIMELINE SO I CAN’T READ ANYTHING ELSE, that I never want to see it again. Get what I’m saying here?
Twitter, when properly used, builds an online presence, gives people an idea of who you are and what your books are about and it doesn’t annoy, harass or piss people off. In other words, post something other than your own damn links. Retweet a tweet that made you laugh. Post a quote or two. Say hello to a few followers you enjoy following back. Tweet about your book and your blog or whatever it is you’re selling. Definitely do that. But don’t be so aggressive you have the wrong effect on people. Also, if you must tweet over and over again, be creative and change it up. You’re a writer for crying out loud. Surely you can find different ways of saying “Buy my book” or “Check out my book”. And don’t bitch when people don’t follow you back or don’t retweet your shit. That annoys me too. Just because you put “RT” before or after the tweet doesn’t make it law that I must retweet it. Actually, just don’t put “RT” at all, because my Irish instantly prevents me from doing so. “Oh, so the wee lass is ordering us to retweet her little bit of nonsense, eh? Well, I’m afraid that isn’t going to happen. We cannot possibly do what we’re ordered to do by someone we don’t know. Never.”
Get a grip on how to use Twitter in such a way that it doesn’t annoy the shit out of people.
Next, pen names. Jesus, I’m already running so long here. Let’s see…okay, unless you’re a children’s writer who also writes erotica or other extremely-adult fiction, why? Why would you want to use any name but your own? Sure if your name won’t fit on the damn cover, I understand. If your name is Seymour Butts, Hugh Jass or Ben Dover, perhaps you might consider a pen name. If you’re Nora Roberts, Stephen King or some other household name that can let it “slip” they’re using a pen name to rebrand and use this “leak” of information to let readers know the pen name indicates a different genre than they’re used to, then fine. Have at it.
If you’re Joe Nobody who hasn’t published a single thing and wants to use a pen name because you’re worried about getting rich and famous and gathering so many haters/stalkers that your life would be in danger…get a grip. It’s not likely to happen anyway. Own what you write. Honestly, this ridiculous fad (or whatever you want to call it) where we all hide behind anonymity because we’re afraid of offending this person or that or because we’d never say these things without the protective cloak of a pen name, makes me sick. It annoys me. Why? If you’re so afraid to own something you’ve written, don’t publish it. If you don’t have the balls to say “Yeah, I wrote this” then you don’t deserve to publish it. That’s right, I went there. Get a grip, folks. Don’t assume you’ll be disowned or people will come to your house packing weapons or flaming bags of shit. Give people more credit than that. They might surprise you.
And one brief mention for those of you who have a problem with the Breast Cancer Awareness campaign that includes the slogan “Save the tatas” or “I like Boobies”, you all need to calm the fuck down. Listen, every time a kid who is giggling maniacally at the words boobies and tatas, buys a bumper sticker or a bracelet so he can go home and continue to giggle with his buddies, money goes to breast cancer research. Every time someone asks him what it’s for, he must pause and consider that. If he doesn’t, well big deal. The thing is, it is helping a good cause. Kids are donating and some are actually learning. My daughter came home last night saying a few teachers believed an “I love boobies” bracelet was inappropriate for school. She’s upset because she wants to get one. She has an aunt (my aunt) who she loves very much who is a breast cancer survivor. She was looking forward to wearing her bracelet and telling people that while it is funny, she’s wearing it because she’s glad her aunt is still here, that she won her battle. How can you criticize that?
Get a grip. They’re just words. Last I checked, boobies was not on the offensive list. Do you all realize the more you tell a kid not to like something, the higher his or her interest in it will be? Laugh it off. It’s a fad. The Cancer Society will benefit while it lasts and kids get a little giggle. It’s certainly better than posting some random message on Facebook implying that you’re pregnant or having sex on a table while eating pickles, but keeping the reason you’re posting such a blatant lie a secret in an effort to spread awareness. But let’s not get started on that.
Last, a very wise man (Paul Mitton) warned that what we type online is “forever”. It is. Everything that is published in any format is essentially forever. That doesn’t mean you should bite your tongue, but you should use caution and common sense. Be aware that some things you post/publish will anger some people. You can’t please everyone and if you think you can, well you’re not going far before they strap you into a jacket and carry you off.
I’m aware that this post could piss people off. Do I care? Not really. That’s why I’m posting it. Believe it or not, I weighed my words. I deleted sections and rewrote them. I omitted some major annoyances because I realized they’re only annoying me this week because of hormones and lack of sleep. Next week I won’t feel the same and I’ll wish I didn’t post them. So I removed those.
The rest? Well, it’s how I feel. It’s my opinion. I own it. If you want to hurl shit at my door, go ahead. Just be sure to hit the windows so that Kurt has to clean those while he’s cleaning the door. They’re awfully cloudy. Oh, and run really fast. I might not like exercise, but I’ll definitely make sure shit-throwing doesn’t go unanswered.

9 thoughts on “Everybody, Just Calm the F*** Down

  1. First let me say that I absolutely love this post, Renee! Thanks!I don't have a competent opinion on self-publishing other than my subjective perception that going the classic way through agents and publishers seems more appealing because of the "shared" responsibilities (although that's turned into an illusion over the years, since you practically still have to market yourself) and because of the aura of validation it still carries. If a publisher accepted my book then it means it's worth something. Right. Doesn't it also mean it's worth something if hundreds of people buy your self-published book?I say go for it. I know I can barely wait to read your novels, and if self-publishing quickens the process — hell yeah!"I love boobies" deserves an own parade. How hypocritical is that to want to spread awareness but criticize that kids (and likely minded people) are confronted with the subject in a way that draws their attention? "I empathise with people afflicted with malignant cell growth in the lining of their mammary glands" would certainly NOT do a better job.

  2. You made me giggle with that last line. That's saying something because it's 6 am and I'm still waiting for my coffee. On the self publishing issue, still undecided. I'm going to look at small presses too…real small presses.

  3. It's a while since anyone accused me of being wise. Thanks. I think.The only reason I'm holding out for the traditional route – agent, big publisher, book club, libraries, foreign language deals etc is money. Yes, I write because I love it. Yes, I'd do it anyway. But, since I'm doing it, I might as well get paid for it. I don't want to spend all my time social networking so I can sell 250 copies of my brilliant self-published novel. I want the people at Random House or Putnams to give me £7000 so they can sell 250,000 copies.Yes, I might self-publish certain things that are almost impossible to get published traditionally – short story anthologies for example – but the rest – traditional all the way.Yes, Renee, with several pen names. Or even nom-de-plumes 🙂 Simply because Paul Mitton will be renowned for dark speculative fiction, but Penelope M Stewart will write the paranormal romances and someone else will write the action thrillers and the screen plays. With different agents and different publishers. Then I can get several sets of crazed fans throwing burning shit at my house.Can't wait!

  4. There's another exception I'll go with. Men writing romance novels will most often need a pen name. I know we're all so evolved we'd read a romance novel by a man and love it…pfft. No we wouldn't. Go ahead and think you will. I agree with Paul. Pen names are a must in this situation. However, do you plan to hide your identity or will it be one of those "worst kept secrets"?And on traditional publishing, money is one of my very valid reasons for wanting to be published this way.

  5. Why thank you, Mr. Keyton. I rant like this all the time, but rarely does anyone but my neighbors get to experience it. And my fence is on its third coat of paint. That tells me it's not time to make the decision yet.

  6. I've tried both and I have to say self-publishing is more attractive now than ever before.I'm a mercenary at heart. Show me the money. When I see my friends making pittances in traditional publishing, I have to ask myself–why bother?As for validation, my sales are validation enough.Ref: TwitterTell me Twitter Guru, how do you stay on top of all your tweeps? I stopped following people because I reached my limit of concentration.

  7. That's good to hear Maria. This is knowledge I was looking for. I want sales too and I know that if I have books worth reading (as you do) then I can hustle and make the sales. You've given me something to chew on for a bit. Thank you.As for staying on top of your tweeps: Delete the ones that are all links all the time. Delete the ones that post only links to what they're selling. Don't follow anyone who doesn't show tweets that interest you within the first ten tweets on their timeline or whose bio is snoozeworthy. I go on once each day and read through the timeline for say, ten minutes. I do this usually when I wake up and the coffee hasn't yet set my brain into work mode. Sometimes it's longer if I have more time, sometimes I don't get to it. No big deal. There are certain Tweeps whose profile I check out regularly because they always have something amusing or interesting on there. Like yours. :)I spend an average of an hour a day on Twitter. But I do it in small intervals. Now and then, as I mentioned, I feel like procrastinating over doing dishes or cleaning toilets, so I might wander the Twittersphere for an evening. That's rare though. It makes my head ache. I also linked my facebook and Twitter profiles so my tweets go on facebook. Two networks in one click. Way easier.So, for you specifically, I know you don't have the time to go on daily, but if you can designate an hour each week you can stay relatively caught up to your favorites. (use the lists to keep those ones easily accessible) There are several that follow because they're fans. Don't worry about keeping track of every tweet. It's impossible unless you have no life, no job…ick. I reply to anyone who mentions me directly, but that's the only replies I worry about.

  8. I've only read down to where you talk about twitter but I had to comment on the self-publishing because I also was banging my head against a wall with no door, trying to get in…I'm really excited now that I've made the leap and my last editing process is making the book better and better–I have a marketing expert friend who has a grand 'intentional' plan for creating a buzz on the net, she will also help me with the website, I've begun the process with Createspace, I have a domain name and a publishing name–who knows where this will all go? But I'm tired of the aholes telling me no! my book is good, I believe in myself and ultimately that's what counts–we are all our own worst critics, especially if we've been editing for a while–so my advice to you is GO FOR IT! It takes a bit of money, but you know what? so does working with a publisher unless you just wrote Harry Potter.

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