Tuesday, March 19, 2013

It's a Small World with very Big Ears

This going to be a short post because my husband is in the hospital with acute bronchitis and my time is at a premium.

That said, I felt an overpowering need to speak on a subject that is so often glossed over that it's practically a skating rink - professionalism on author loops.

Common sense.

We should get us some.

Here's the dealio: when you're posting online, keep in mind that whatever you put out to the cyber-universe, be it on Facebook, a blog like this one, or a Yahoo Group, it's out there forever. Even if you delete it.

While it's important to be able to share information, both good and bad, with your colleagues, and no one's opinion should be shut down because it's simply unfavorable, there is a time and place for everything. Complaining about a publisher on another publisher's loop is never a good idea, whether or not you had a good, bad, or indifferent experience, and definitely not when you're making a defamatory blanket statement. Here's why:

Our industry is a small one, and everyone knows everyone else. People will talk, and when you make statements that go beyond opinion and into the dangerous territory of libel, you can bet your bottom dollar the talk will not be favorable to you. Publishers are first and foremost businesspeople, and they may speculate on whether someone who talks shit about a different publisher on their loop might do the same about them should something go awry with said publisher and author's relationship, and how that might affect their business. 

This is not confined to e-publishing. NY does it too, and so do agents. 

We M/M writers tend to be territorial about the companies with whom we publish. It's a natural thing; our publishers are a great deal more approachable than NY, and we often get to meet and interact with them at conventions and gatherings. There's a friendship vibe that grows with time. This is a good thing because it  forges strong relationships between houses and authors.

It becomes a problem only when we allow pissing matches to form. Someone with Publisher B says something derogatory about Publisher A, then someone who's with Publisher A says something about Publisher B, and it's on.

What we need to remember is that we are all professionals -- or are supposed to be -- and need to act accordingly. Think not only about what you're saying before putting it out there, but where you're saying it. If you have had a bad experience with a publisher, fine, you absolutely should share it with your colleagues, but there are places to do it (Editors and Predators, for example). Publishers' professional loops are not the place to air complaints about competing publishers.

Even more important is understanding the difference between an opinion and libel. Expressing a personal opinion, or sharing a personal experience is one thing. Making a blanket statement that is detrimental and unprovable is libel. The line is a thin one, and should be considered carefully before making statements on a public forum.

This is, of course, just my opinion and experience from my years in the industry.

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