One Bad Apple Ruins The Bunch?
In my last post, I mentioned that I've recently been pulling back from the writing community. I have no intention of pulling back from my readers -- I love hearing from people who have read my books, and I love meeting people and interacting with fans of my stories. I even love the pleasant surprise that comes from realizing I've made a legit new friend through my work. But I don't love the dingy background behind the happy facade of the writing community.
The first blogger I met had me completely smitten. She was a doll, funny and sweet and helpful. Until I expressed some uncertainty about a book cover (one of my early ones) and she let me in on a little secret -- that she had a little mean-girl squad where she and about four other well-known indies would sit around and just make fun of people's books and book covers. Considering the timing of this confession, I instantly had a loss of confidence and trust, not in myself, but in this blogger that I had previously respected. Apparently they had nothing better to do with their time. A good number of other bloggers I have met and interacted with since then have either faded into the woodwork or come out with books of their own. A few have even confessed to me that the whole point of their starting book blogs was to build a following that would launch their own books. I find it dishonest, and it really hurts my ability to trust people's motives.
This bleeds into the authors themselves, too -- there are whole groups out there devoted to discussing the bad manners and foul personalities of certain authors. These little "back rooms" in the author community are where you find out that so-and-so used to be known as such-and-such, and he or she runs a fake company but never pays the authors they sign or some other related type of drama. These are the places where you get the down and dirty truth behind the frills of good marketing. These are the places where you find out who to avoid, which ones are the "wrong crowd."
And that leads into events. My first signing event was the Tennessee Valley Author Event (TNVAE); it was an amazing first experience and I learned so much. I met lots of new people, I sold some books, I got some cool stuff, and I had a great time. But it was really busy, and more than a little overwhelming; there were over 100 authors there, and it was a pretty rowdy crowd. There are people I met at that event that I will never forget, because they reached out to me or in some way proved that they were exactly as awesome as I had thought they were. Others, I will remember because they sit around after the event and talk about how ugly or stupid or unworthy their own fans are. This was the beginning of my disillusionment with authors themselves.
Now look, I get it, authors are people too. I myself have said that no matter how hard I'm trying to build a public persona as an author, I am still, first and foremost, a person, a human with feelings and emotions, with problems and things that come up. I have good days and bad days too. But it doesn't matter how bad any day gets, I'm still never going to be the kind of person who sits at a table surrounded by fans who have followed me across the country, just to meet me and buy a book signed by me, and then sit around later and talk about how those people who just paid my bills with their book purchases are not pretty enough to have met me or good enough to have spoken to my cover model. That moment will follow me for the rest of my life, because I had previously idolized that particular person ... she was a success story that I looked up to, until I realized that she was a horrible person. I mean, it's not like I happened to overhear her gossip in an empty parking lot or bathroom while she talked with a friend after the event was over. No, I heard it in a room full of authors AND fans, at the after party. And that's not the only experience of its kind.
So understandably, I was a little nervous going into my second signing, the little one that was held in the Maynardville Library in Maynardville, TN in November. I knew some of the names, and I had chatted a bit with the sweetheart who was in charge of coordinating everything. I was really pleasantly surprised that it went so well, and it went a long way toward encouraging me to sign on to another big event.
Next up? The Sweet Southern Charm Indie Explosion, which was to be held in Peachtree City, Georgia in July 2015. This event has since been cancelled and there is a lot of speculation as to why. Wild accusations about the author coordinating the event are flying, and it looks like anyone who had put much money into this event are now posting a financial loss without much chance of recovery. And I've heard about this so many times!
It angers me, because I've been lied to. It disappoints me, because the sense of community that I felt is now shattered. It hardens me, because I am now unsure if I will be able to reach out in trust again within the writing community.
Fortunately for me, I'm not in this for the writing community. I'm in it for the readers, and that's why in 2015, I'm going "back to basics."
But that's yet another post.