Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Why Negative Nancys Look Like Douchey McDouchealots

Bitchstress here, a day late.

Okay, a few weeks...*cough*months*cough*...late. Yes, yes, stuff and things. I do the website stuff here too and I'm TIRED and I'm BUSY and JUST STOP STARING AT ME.

I have a series of posts I'll be starting soon, Editing 101 with Mama Bitchstress. There'll be some theory, some practical things, and probably homework because that's how I roll.

But that is not today.

Today I want to tell you about how you're probably being a douche.

An agent I follow tweeted the other night about being put off by queries where people gleefully declare their book isn't like X, Y, Z (in this case it was that it didn't have porn or vampires). Others have said this as well and it was one of the first things I noticed in acquisitions way back when: a lot of people, either unintentionally or intentionally, insult other books, authors, publishers/editors/agents, and entire genres in their queries.

This is not a way to make friends and influence people, and we shall count the ways.

1. You say your book is nothing like Popular Book X. Well, what if I like Popular Book X? What if my authors/clients write similar (or DID write) Popular Book X? 

What I hear is, "My book is better than that other stuff," and if I LIKE that other stuff, I don't like being insulted. If I DON'T like that other stuff, I don't like people who think they're better than everyone else. I know this isn't always intentional. I know you probably think it's GOOD to say your work isn't Fifty Shades of Fanfic, and all this vampire bitching: yes, there's vampire fatique going on, but a lot of people still dig them.

The solution? LET YOUR WORK STAND FOR ITSELF. Draw a specific, favorable comparison (my book would appeal to fans of X, Y, and Z) and for the love of god, don't bash anyone.

2. You say your book isn't porn. Well, sugar, say what you mean: erotic romance. And erotic romance? It is popular, especially with many a lady these days.

What I hear is, "I'm better than people who write a lowly genre I don't like." And that "lowly" genre? Making hand over fist money instead of yours, sweet cheeks.

The solution: say what it is, and don't bash people's reading tastes. (Noticing a theme here?)

3. You say you're querying the editor/agent because you had problems with your last publisher.

What I hear is, "If we have a difficult working relationship, I'm going to advertise my problems with you to total strangers." You COULD have legit problems (although I'm going to say it now: if you bitch about multiple publishers you're with, the problem isn't them, it's YOU). But the person to discuss your issues with is your spouse, your lawyer, or maybe your editor/agent if it comes up as something important to share.

The solution is shut yer damn trap. You don't go on a first date and bash you ex-husband; you don't cold query a stranger and bash your ex-pub.

We're basically seeing repeats of idiotic, douchey behavior people should've left behind in middle school.

Negative Nancy mutters insults as the cool kids walk by (didn't we all?). Does that make her more popular? Has it EVER made anyone more popular? "Wow, that's so awesome how you sound bitter because you're not cool--let's be friends!" <--- Said no one EVER.

Or how about Gossipy Gabby who talked shit about everyone the moment they were out of earshot? Who thought she'd make a few friends by knocking someone down a few pegs for the shoes she's wearing, or who she dated, or whatever? Of course you do: everyone knows That Girl. And let me tell you something about Gabby: anyone with a brain knows that if she talks about Debbie and Susie and poor, poor Nancy over there, SHE'S GOING TO TALK ABOUT YOU.

I'm not saying you have to pretend to like what you hate or that you can't share bad experiences ever; I'm saying that publicly, in front of professionals, it is probably not a good idea to go about insulting the people you either hope to work with or hope will be your fans. Don't tell me what your book is NOT; SHOW ME what it IS.

Negativity and gossip does not a professional make. It makes a DOUCHE.

Don't be one.

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