I was talking to someone recently and the topic turned to who is cattier: musicians or authors? We both gave examples of asshole tactics from people in our chosen fields, and you know what? I think artists are kind of universally catty, but for good reason.
You see, artists tend to do a lot of work alone (even when it's a musical group…the group is "alone.") So when we go out into the bigger world to essentially hang with our peeps, we want it to be a positive experience. We want the person who has the book fair table next to ours to be respectful of space and talk you up as you talk them up. We want the band who comes before or after to bring in people and help out if there's an equipment issue. We want the "lesser" known actors to not be shuffled to the background in every photo op in favor of the bigger names (okay, that's as a fan, but I'm sure the actors don't like it much either).
Essentially, we want people to not be assholes. I mean, these are supposed to be our people so there should be a type of kinship there.
But we all know that's not always the case. And no, I'm not talking about the people who bite their tongues or roll their eyes to not make waves.
I'm talking about the ones that those actions are in reference to. (Focusing on authors here because I just don't know enough about the music biz.)
- the author who jumps into a conversation you're having, not because they have something useful to say, but because they heard the random person ask about your book and if they like your book, the person will really love theirs.
- the one who sits next to you at the book fair or has a promo spot next to yours and decides that dividing line doesn't apply to them--and of course, you wouldn't mind, right?
- the one who takes over a panel that they aren't on at a convention.
- the one who publicly bitches about reviews/their genre/editors/etc and basically makes us all look like whiny douchenozzles.
- the drama queens
- the prima donnas…
The list goes on and on. It's bad enough when this happens with a new author who probably just doesn't know better (ie--they don't get that no matter how many books get published in any given day, publishing is not a big world and people talk--a lot). You see, for the most part, the newbies get the smile and nod and walk away. Or maybe some quiet advice giving. (The ones who have been around for a while but aren't a big deal? They get the eye rolls and the gossip. Sorry, speshul snowflakes, but we do talk about you, and it's not always nice--even if we personally like you--because your behavior is crap.)
When it's a big name author, though, that's when the real cat claws come out. There are some big name authors who talk shit about everything and treat people like crap. I don't know them all and I won't name names of the ones I thought of right off. The thing with these people is…we might not be standing around waiting for them to fall from grace, but when it happens, we sure as hell will watch. We might even bring drinks and popcorn.
Might not be a proud moment, but it's a true one. And if we were a fan and you suddenly reveal your douchebaggery? Oh boy…
The point is, and we've said it here a lot, don't be a douchebag author. People talk. People remember. Be nice. Be friendly. Be helpful. And for the sake of all that is evil and…evil…never ever act like you're more important than the others in the room. I don't care if you are JK Rowling and Stephen King's love child all grown up and selling a bajillion copies of Harry Potter and the Dark Tower. You are an author and reader…just like everyone else there. Be a fucking human being rather than a (real or only in your mind) superstar. Even paranormal readers like humans.