A Note on Professionalism

So I log onto Twitter this morning, very innocently looking to read-up on the latest book-ish news from my book-ish friends, and I was instantly assaulted by news of assaults.

Not physical assaults, no, but post after post referenced threats made against contest mentors or agents. I. Was. Floored. Is this really a thing? How is this really a thing?

Look, I get it. The publishing business is Tough-with-a-capital-T. It is grueling and heartbreaking and can try even the kindest saint’s patience. But in what world do you have to live in to think threats of any kind will get you ahead?

Creating something is scary. Putting it out there is even scarier. You will never please every single person. Everyone has different tastes, interests, and ideas. Even if a person doesn’t like what you’ve created, it doesn’t make it bad or make you wrong. You simply have to find someone out there who appreciates your particular brand of art.

But you know what does make you bad or wrong? Threatening someone whose taste does not align with your art.

Rejection is not easy, but it’s a part of this business. Because, admit it or not, that’s what this is. A business. And while getting rejected hurts like hell when you’ve poured so much time, energy, and love into something, that does not give you a right to shame, threaten, intimidate, harass, or otherwise be a complete ass to someone who has decided on a BUSINESS LEVEL that your writing is not right for them.

It is not personal. It feels personal because your art is personal. But it is not personal.

Threats, ugliness, and meanness, however, are personal. And almost guarantee you a one-way ticket to “never-getting-published-ville.”

Look, I’m not expecting you not to feel things when you get a rejection. We’re all human. I’ve cried my fair share of tears. Like, hysterical sobbing, okay? Ugly, ugly cries. I’ve prayed some angry prayers, written quite a few “woe is me” journal entries. And then I suck it up. I send out another query. I drink a glass or two of wine. I paint. I do some revisions, write a few pages on a new WIP. This publishing adventure is a journey, and the whole point of a journey is to prepare you for arrival. And what you’ll need when you arrive is thick skin. Because there will always be someone who doesn’t like what you’ve written. Whether it be mentor, agent, editor, or reader. The point is for you to love what you’ve written and find others who do too. Keep on keeping on, as they say.

And try not to be a jerk along the way.

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