Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Editors On Facebook Discuss Difficult Authors

A discussion on Facebook has irritated a few author-friends of mine. I've been sent a link to this ongoing discussion and, while the editors involved think it's funny, not one of the writers who have seen it seem to be laughing.

I'm not going to tell you which side I'm on because then I'll upset everybody. Just click the link and work it out for yourself. You'll need a Facebook account to be able to read it.

17 comments:

acpaul said...

The last post of this thread appears to have been in September, and the post prior to that in February of last year. Hardly seems worth complaining about.

But then, I'm not a published author. Yet.

DanielB said...

Maybe the thread is not as current as it could be, but it does reflect ongoing attitudes.

People employed in publishing never face a situation where they are told, after half a year's work, that their editor doesn't "love their work enough" and refuses to pay them for the previous six months. And yes, I know this is one of the joys of being freelance - I've done it for fifteen years and have had ten books published - but it doesn't make it any easier...

I went to a Society of Authors "do" not long ago where some well-known writers didn't see the irony in feeling sorry for their publicity girls being paid "peanuts"! The obvious derogatory comment aside, do they not remember what it was like being a "mid-list" writer?

JPFife said...

started by Kitty Van Boxel, who works for Palgrave MacMillan. But I'm so childish I just found her name hilarious.

Jane Smith said...

ACP, if you'll read my post again, you'll see that I'm not complaining. But if you read the Facebook comments in association with my two posts here about how little most writers earn, you might realise that I've got good grounds to.

I'd like to see everyone, whether they work in publishing or anywhere else, treat each other with respect. Perhaps I want too much.

Jane Smith said...

JP, I've longed for a name like that all my life. Even if it makes you laugh. Especially if it makes you laugh.

Joanna said...

To be honest, reading this made me angry. How can they have so little respect for their clients? If I knew my editor was laughing about me like this I would be very upset. While it's true there are stories on there of writers displaying rather unseemly behaviour, to behave so unprofessionally on such a public forum (I'm not on Facebook and could still read it) is downright wrong. When I get an editor I sincerely hope they will display more maturity than these ones have.

Sally Zigmond said...

I've had a foot in both camps and would agree that a bit more courtesy and less ego on both sides would be more than welcome. Most of the cases cited are more a case of each not understanding the other's position or having unrealistic expectations.

There are rude people in every walk of life. Just because you come across a less than pleasant person, t doesn't make one particular group of people any better or worse than any other.

acpaul said...

I wasn't trying to imply that this sort of unprofessional behavior is okay. I was only wondering why it suddenly became an issue nearly two years after the thread was started.

These people are displaying a blatant lack of professionalism, agreed. They are judging a group by the behavior of a few, and that is also wrong.

But on the other hand, I can also see where they're coming from. I get to deal with people who have some sense of entitlement beyond the ordinary on a daily basis. But commenting about it, publicly, on a site like Facebook is very unprofessional. And as a nurse, I could probably be cited for some privacy violation if I did something similar.

behlerblog said...

The facebook thread reminds me of doctors and nurses who complain about their patients. It's not all their patients, just a few who stand out for their tenacity or stupidity. Is this wise to do it in a public forum? No. Do we have private conversations about these types when we get together? Abso-freaking-lutley.

When you see the same type of behavior every single day, it can become hard to remain unjaded. But in the end, it's about respect on both sides. I may want to scream at an author for being difficult, but that gets me nowhere. Instead, I take care of business and vent over margaritas with my favorite agent and editor buds.

We see thousands of works every year, and we've seen it all. How and where we talk about it marks us as idiots or professionals. Just my take on it...

NICOLA MORGAN said...

I am sorry if they have been treated with disrespect by some unpleasant or arrogant authors; I am sorry for the authors who have been treated with the same giggling disrespect as those who may well deserve it, but there's clever satire and there's throwing eggs. This was throwing eggs, and reflects only on the egg-thrower. And actually it would have been greatly improved by some good editing in order to make the points more powerfully. Although I'm merely a published author, I'd be happy to offer my editing services. But I'm not cheap. And I'd probably use coloured pens because pink and orange are SO much prettier than black.

graywave said...

Oddly - since I'm a wannabe author - I didn't find the Facebook comments offensive at all: quite enjoyable in fact. Rude, arrogant people generally deserve all the sending-up they get.

Also oddly, all the writers I know are really nice people whom I could not imagine being so rude to anybody. However, they are all fiction writers while the examples cited appeared to be non-fiction, and academics at that. I've known loads of academics who think they're something special.

Melinda Szymanik said...

Oh no, not smiley faces and capital letters and coloured crayon - how dreadful. I can't imagine working under those conditions

there could be worse things.

emmadarwin said...

Haven't had a chance to read the Facebook discussion, so this may be a bit tangential, but I do think that what editors may take as arrogance or unwarrantedly diva-ish behaviour is sometimes simple ignorance of how things work - which is where your trios come in, Jane.

There can't be many professions where a person can find themselves at the highly-visible centre of a whole economic system, but with as little idea or experience of how that system works, as a debut author. If you have no idea about the difficulties of selling in, or the sheer number of books published, you might well throw a tantrum when the first bookshop you walk into doesn't have twenty copies of your book, because it would seem to be your publishers failure. If you've no idea of how difficult it is to justify spending money on advertising a book, let alone a book by an unknown, you could certainly feel your publisher's falling down on the job when you don't see twenty forty-six sheet cross-track posters around London advertising your delicate little novella of life in Borneo. If you don't know that publishers won't generally pay for launches these days you might take it as a terrible insult and indication of lack of faith, that they won't pay for yours. And if you don't realise that an Amazon ranking is not the number of copies sold (yes, some really do think that) you're in for bitter disappointment, which has to be displaced somewhere... like onto your publisher.

Re academics, I've no idea, but the pressure on them to publish is so strong, and yet the financial rewards usually meagre to non-existent, I do wonder if at some level a lot of them resent the more tiresome bits of the publishing process

BuffySquirrel said...

Eh, that's mild compared to what I've seen writers post about agents and editors.

DanielB said...

I thin that's a fair point about this discussion reflecting more the dealings with non-fiction writers, specifically academics. I don't know many writers who swan off to their house in the South of France for two months! emma makes a good point about our position as writers - no "training" and yet we are the people who make the publishing industry function. We're expected to pick it all up on the job.

Louise said...

Emma you're so right. While there is no excuse for arrogance or rudeness from authors (or anyone else who considers themselves professional), it might help if the system, and how it works, was explained to the newly published. My first book's just gone to paperback and friends and family are constantly asking how it's doing, and I have to say I don't have a clue. I did email my truly brilliant, talented and no doubt horrendously busy editor (once) to ask, but never heard back, so I assume it's doing really, really badly. Or else she hates me and thinks I'm stalking her and can't bear to write back. I have resorted to using xxx's at the end of emails in a desperate attempt to make the London people like me. I've thought about blogging my experiences, but feel that would be disloyal to the publishers and agent who have fulfilled my life's ambition to be a published author - albeit a paranoid one.

However, anyone who uses shouty capitals in their emails probably deserves to be talked about on Facebook.

Louise

Teri Daniels said...

Seems to me that the editors’ post was just a lot of workday venting. Who in business doesn't kvetch about the haughty client, the clueless customer or the arrogant VIP? Who among us doesn’t feel a little bit better when we point out the gaffe of a peer and employee a boss? Would we complain face-to-face? Probably not. Follow through is not the point. So we sound off to our comrades. Cyber world complaining is only a problem when the shop talkers know for sure that their shoptalk will be shared by sensitive people outside the shop. If no network filters are in place on a Facebook page, for instance , shop talker should beware because friends outside the shop will take these comments personally…and the shop stalkers will talk back.