Monday, July 31, 2006

Should Authors Be Jerks?

There are two main ways that authors market themselves: through their body of work and as a person

This has been something I’ve thought about more and more as I’ve blogged and started to realize people were paying attention to what I was doing. It hadn’t really occurred to me, because my online activities were very much recreational/blowing off steam outlets for a long time. Then, suddenly, I was gaining recognition as a writer, an editor and now, soon, an author.

I thought about this a lot at Harrogate, particularly because of some negative experiences, but also because of some positive ones. And this is the potentially controversial post I was going to put up on Killer Year on Wednesday. But I decided to put it here, for a variety of reasons, one of which being that if anyone did take offense to it (and people have taken extreme offense for far less) the fall-out would be on me alone.

At Harrogate, I really connected with Martina Cole through her talk. I’ve never read anything by her, but was struck by certain things about her life that corresponded with mine. We made different choices, but the path she took so easily could have been me, it was eerie. Not that I think I have the strength she possesses. Martina is a damn impressive person. If I’d made different choices it likely would have killed me. Instead, she seems stronger for it.

On the other side of the equation, there was an author I won’t name that left a very negative impression on a group of fans. My friend I was traveling with was one of them, and she recounted the incident. A group of fans who’d traveled from Ireland, all over England and as far as NYC were having photos taken with authors. George Pelecanos graciously accommodated the ladies and posed, but an author waiting for him heaved a sigh in such a physical manner - expressing annoyance at being kept waiting - the fans noticed. And they commented on it to me.

Uh, do you think those fans – willing to invest serious money in traveling to see authors they love – are going to hunt down books by that author any time soon? Well, they told me they were turned right off. I can’t say I blame them.

Now, not all fans would care. Some people will read a book by an author, regardless of whether or not they’re a jerk. After all, if people stopped supporting movies or television shows because actors are jerks, there’d be a lot less crap out there. Some “celebrities” out there are people I’d never want to spend time with, personally. I had a friend who’d been put in prison for attempted murder, and I’d pick his company over some of these self-indulgent stars in a heartbeat, though we’ve lost touch over the years.

My husband has spent so many years working in business, he knows this backwards, forwards. “A happy person tells one person. An unhappy person tells seven.”

I’m probably one of the exceptions to that, at least when it comes to authors.

Not when it comes to businesses. Just after we got married, Kevin bought me a computer. It was a PC company, that’s all I’ll say. The hard drive crashed in the first month. They replaced it. Within a month, crashed again. Now, my husband’s spent years as a software developer, working for companies like Telus, AT&T and Wolsely, and he knows a few things about computers.

As in, the problem wasn’t the hard drive. And he explained to them what the problem was. But they wouldn’t fix it. They kept sending hard drive after hard drive. What are the odds three in a row would be faulty? Uh, not very damn good.

In the end, after repeatedly having the thing fixed, it disappeared to a shop for over a month, leaving me without a computer, and when it was returned it wasn’t fixed.

Sandra got on the phone and went medieval on their ass. And when they hung up on me, I tracked every company email address I could find online and sent them emails until they begged me to stop. But I had a valid customer complaint and by this time, the clock was ticking on the warranty. There was no way I was letting them off the hook by putting me off until it expired. And believe me, turning super-bitch on them finally produced results.

They gave me my money back.

Now, I have a mac, which has always been my preference anyway. And Kevin is forbidden to buy anything from that wretched company. So don’t think I’m always overly nice. Certain buttons get pushed, I can dig my heels in and fight like a bear.

But I always try to talk up the people I admire. Part of the reason is that my natural inclination is to be very negative. I was raised by a judgmental, critical person, and that’s part of the reason I’m never happy with anything I do. All those years of hearing that I was lazy, useless, not as good as… You start to believe it. Oh, I’m exceptionally driven, always working to shake off the demons, but the longer I live the more keenly aware I am of the fact that I’ll never be satisfied with anything I accomplish. It will never be enough.

My friends weren’t the only people who had a negative experience at the festival. I was with a group of people – you know how it is. People come and go and people have little side chats and then group chats intersect and different people start chatting… One author introduced themselves to every person in the group.

Except me.

Now, it could have been because I was a woman. Except another woman joined the chat and she merited an introduction. Maybe it was because she wasn’t an author? Or she didn’t have a “commoner’s accent”? Or because she was pretty. I certainly don’t rate on the knock-out scale, not that I particularly care about that.

The thing was, I wasn’t particularly surprised to be treated like I didn’t exist.

I actually think it’s a better thing for authors to put the real them out on a blog. If a reader is the type of person to not read an author because the author is a jerk, it’s better to know that right off. Simply put, it’s one thing to turn off a prospective ‘customer’ but it’s quite another to turn off someone who’s admired you and invested in your product. If they then meet you and dislike you intensely, to the point they won’t read you again, they’re more likely to tell those seven people about their bad experience, and then some.

I’m actually not one to be turned off completely by the person. After all, the book isn’t the person. Just like Braveheart isn’t Mel Gibson. I grew up around a lot of musicians, and if there’s one thing I know it’s that people with artistic temperaments are often not the best at socializing. I doubt most authors start writing because they think they’ll be on stage some day.

But the reality is, there are ways we attract an audience, and if we blow one approach, we greatly lessen our chances of reaching those readers. I don’t typically read reviews. Plus, some of these authors don’t have great distribution in Canada or any distribution in Canada. The chance of selling me a book was much greater when I was standing outside a bookstore actually carrying it.

And that author completely blew the positive personal impression opportunity with me.

Chances I’ll read Martina Cole? Almost 100% certainty. Chances I’ll read this other person? Almost nil. Because they’re going to have to impress me with their body of work, and I don’t know how they’ll do that now that I have a bit of an aversion to their name.

Now, I have wondered about how I handle my blog and myself and given it a lot of thought over the past few months. And in thinking about this experience, I have to say I actually think the author did me, and themselves, a favour. It isn't like I don't have more authors than I could read already on the TBP and TBR lists.

I could look for many reasons to discount the impression this person made on me. I didn’t introduce myself either, but I didn’t introduce myself to anyone. They introduced themselves to everyone…except one person.

Why didn’t I introduce myself? I’m bad for this, and I need to work on it. Truthfully, I always seek out the people I know because I’m horridly shy with people I don’t know.

In a way, the worst thing about blogging is that people never believe me when I say that. I seem so open online, even bubbly according to some.

But my philosophy is that nobody has to read my blog. Nobody even has to read an email from me. They can delete it unread and I’ll never know the difference. This is why if people ignore me in the comments on their blog all the time (assuming they’re the type to reply to comments) I’ll stop commenting. I assume they don’t want to read my remarks.

If people don't respond to my emails, I assume the same. Three not responded to and I'll likely never email the person again. Just like if I ask someone for an interview and they don't answer, I assume they don't want to be interviewed. Simon Kernick did the best thing by saying, "Yes, but can we wait?" And I let him pick the time and we only failed repeatedly to put it together, but I never doubted he wanted to actually do the interview. Finally getting that after a year felt damn good, and I looked forward to it all the more. But no response? Next.

When I came home, I had a long talk with Cornelia and I at least know I’m in good company. We talked about people not responding to emails, about the incredible fear that we left someone with a bad impression of us after an event when we didn’t hear from them.

Truthfully, emails give that illusion of instant gratification. And it's hard for people to accept that it might be a few weeks before they get an answer. For the people I actually correspond with - that I can't throw off quick three-line answers to - it takes a while. And they know this, because I get so many emails I often don’t respond as quickly as I’d like. I’ve had people email and say, “I haven’t heard from so and so” and I’m jumping to explain immediately, because I know that person’s really busy right now. I mean, if I email Cornelia, I never get uptight if I don’t hear from her for a bit. I know how busy she is.

That’s also part of the security of having a solid friendship with someone. I could phone her tomorrow and she’d listen to me cry. I know that about her, but she’s a rarity for me. Truth is, I’m friends with more ‘readers’ and ‘aspiring authors’ than authors, so I completely relate to that sense of awe some readers have when approaching their favourite authors.

I always feel if I’m standing in front of someone, there is that polite obligation to tolerantly listen to whatever I say, even if it’s written all over their face that they’d rather be anywhere but there, talking to me.

So maybe I should give this author my congratulations. For likely being the most honest person I didn’t meet at Harrogate. They obviously thought I was nothing more than shit on a shoe sole they couldn’t wait to scrape off and be rid of.

But maybe the truth is that I’m too sensitive and what I know to be true for myself, I forget can be true for others. Some conversations are painful for me, and it isn’t even because I don’t want to talk. Myself and a friend had an opportunity to actually sit down and have a chat with an author we both read and admire, and my friend chastised me afterwards for being so quiet. But faced with a chance to talk to someone I had a lot of respect for I didn’t want to hear the sound of my own voice. And I seldom do feel comfortable enough to chat freely with people I’ve never met before.

Last year, I was completely intimidated by Mark Billingham. It’s amusing to think of now, in a way, because he’s such a fantastic person and has become someone I think of as a friend. But it wasn’t funny a year ago. I’d get an email from him and my stomach would twist into knots. I can only say it now because I’ve told him. I mean, if you’ve met Mark, you have to know how ridiculous it is.

Still, that’s how it was for me. Never stopped me from reading his books or talking about them, though.

And despite the fact that I know the problem was with me, I left Harrogate this year feeling the same way about someone I met. I’m destined to go through the same thing all over again. The only difference being that I might not stay in contact with this person, as I did Mark, which means I may never overcome that feeling with them. And it's someone I genuinely like, but am convinced does not like me.

I actually have a list of people I’m terrified of meeting. I seriously considered canceling BoucherCon because the thought of the event makes me nauseous. If it wasn’t for the fact that I’ve got something to do with Val McDermid and actually get to hang out with Cornelia and half of the Killer Year crew…

Maybe it will be easier to hide in the crowds. I don’t know. But I'm incredibly conflicted about going because I'm scared.

I left Harrogate thinking I’d given someone the impression I was a snob.

On the average day, I talk to my husband. A few days a week, the ladies at the post office when I’m picking up packages or mailing parcels. And the cashier at the grocery store. I talk on the phone usually no more than twice a week, other than calls with Kevin.

I’m starting to realize that I need to get out more. If for no other reason than to be more mindful of how I interact with people so that I can handle public events.

This is what nobody teaches us how to do. And in reflecting on the bad impressions a few people made on myself and others, I’ve realized my behaviour will always be under scrutiny. Again, I don’t think you should fundamentally change who you are in order to sell.

But you might want to consider working to make sure you treat people in a way that leaves the impression you want to leave. Which means I have to get over my insecurities and learn to do small talk with people.

I think, without a doubt, the toughest thing in this business is the socializing for me. And being too sensitive. I over-analyze emails, I read into everything. People don’t respond and (unless I know them as well as Cornelia I assume they hate me.

Now my question for you – would an author’s behaviour put you off buying their books? And if you are an author, what’s been the hardest thing in the business for you to deal with?

Oh, and fyi – if in the rare event I don’t email back, I do always read my mail. Always.

36 comments:

Christa M. Miller said...

Mea culpa. I don't respond to a lot of emails because they get buried under freelance stuff. And I like to give my friends a well-thought-out response. And I often don't have time or energy, after chasing a 3-year-old and holding down my job, to think out those responses. (This is also why I haven't sustained blogging.)

Terrible, bad excuses I know. And I'm not sure what to do about it all, other than try not to make e-friends anymore!

To answer your question, Sandra, I already have been turned off by authors whose on-line behavior didn't impress me. I'm told they are just the nicest people IRL, but my experience leads me to believe otherwise. So no, I'm not likely to buy their books. The writing would really have to blow me away.

Which brings me to my second point: great writing trumps all. If Dennis Lehane snubbed me at a con, I'd still buy his books because I love his writing. Conversely, I've "met" authors I think are great people, but I don't buy their books because I don't care for the style. I feel kinda bad about that, but I'm on a tight budget. I don't want to buy anything I won't come back to.

Steve Allan said...

I always read your comments and e-mails. Don't stop, or I'll think no one reads my stuff. *sniff*

As for reading jerks, I have to agree with Christa; it depends on the writing. I have met complete jerks in person whose books were fantastic, and I've met the nicest people whose writing was real crap. Yes, people's attitudes toward something can influence my decision to read them or not. I used to really like T.C. Boyle, but after he shit on genre fiction repeatedly, I was ready to say "fuck him" and not read any more of his books.

But yeah, when it comes to the really big assholes out there, I refuse to read their stuff.

Now, I'm dying to know who the asshole was. You must say, or at least e-mail me. I'll read it, I promise. :)

Julia Buckley said...

Sandra,
This post doesn't seem all that controversial to me, so I can't imagine you'd get any hate mail. I can't imagine any of us much like being snubbed. And it would absolutely prevent me from buying someone's book if that person had treated me as though I were invisible.

I believe that you are shy; I think many writers and readers are shy. And like you, I am quick to assume people hate me. Not sure of the reason for this phenomenon. :)

Keep blogging.

Julia

Sandra Ruttan said...

Christa, I was thinking of you just the other day, when I thought about missing the Mystery Circus. I miss that venue for chatter that we all once had. But with you, I do know you're brutally busy...

Steve, good points. And it's interesting you two agree on this. I'm glad people aren't automatically in one camp or another, but seem to take this case by case. As for divulging the name, I don't think it's fair, is it? I mean, it was my experience, and mine alone. And it's always possible this person might come offer me some reasonable explanation. Then if I've told a bunch of people, I'll feel bad. There are friends of mine who like this person and that doesn't bother me, as long as I don't have to be around this person. For me, it isn't for or against, as much as I appreciate the support.

Julia, I've been skewered for far less. Far far less. And reminded on many occasions that as a newcomer I should sit down, shut up and not form an opinion on anyone who has a few books out. And we're all supposed to stand together as authors and all that jazz. But there are an incredibly small number of people who'd even know who I'm talking about, and they were there to see it for themselves (or not notice it, as the case may also be) so I'm not sharing anything new with them.

I wonder why we do assume people hate us? I've spent a fair bit of time crying over this past week, and it's been such a harsh experience. I always go through this - I'm good for no work for a number of days after a festival.

Yet I suppose the recent hate mail and phone call incident I had have really solidified it in my mind that people dislike me. And compounded by this experience, I don't think I'll rebound quite as quickly this time. Thank God the person isn't going to be at BoucherCon, at least, as far as I know...

angie said...

Well, hell. I don't get the pointed rudeness. That's just...I don't even know what that is. Petty? Stupid? Pointlessly mean? I try not to get too hung up on whether a writer is "nice" or not, but straight up rude is a no-go. Like Christa, I'm on a budget and damned if I'm going to spend my limited cash to support an ass-munch writer. Sorry, just how I am. If s/he is a truly excellent writer? There's always the library!

Shy? Yeah, I believe it. It is different in person, though easier when you've "talked" on blogs. Still, big groups freak me out. Anyway, don't worry too much over the social skills thing. That stuff gets better over time - or so I've heard! : )

Christa M. Miller said...

Thanks so much for understanding, Sandra. :)

Did you read Anne Frasier's latest post? It ties in really well with yours. I personally assume people hate me because of the way I was raised - believing I was too flawed to love. I am always amazed when it turns out people want to spend time with me, and never surprised when they don't. In fact, sometimes I head them off at the pass. Self-sabotage, I know. But I'd rather write than figure out social conventions. ;)

M. G. Tarquini said...

I don't buy books written by jerks. If there were some pressing reason that I had to read it, I'd get it out of the library.

JT Ellison said...

You catch more flies with hony than vinegar. That's always my philosophy outside the homefront...
Or to qoute Robert Fate's new book, BABY SHARK -- "Good manners don't cost anything."

David Terrenoire said...

I'm afraid I'm with Christa on this. I have such good intentions about replying to everyone with something other than a throw-away, that the email soon gets buried under work stuff and then time flies by and there I am, looking like a rude schmuck.

And I can't help but think Christa was referring to me and my on-line behavior because, let's face it, I'm not exactly the kind of guy you'd want to invite to a State dinner where you'd be worried all night whether I was going to talk about that or not.

So, I apologize, deeply, for any offense I may have given. And if I haven't offended you, you're probably not reading my blog.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Angie, oh GOD I hope it gets easier! I cried more this year than last year, and that's not a good sign, is it? I pretty much cried all the way from Manchester to Gatwick and waiting for the plane and flying home last Monday too - a solid 21 hour journey.

Christa, I haven't read Anne's post, but I will now. She always has great posts. And I understand the self-sabotage, particularly if it's someone really important to me. Because what if I try my best and do everything right and they just don't like me? Then I have to face that. The subconscious is a powerful force.

Mindy, can't say I blame you. How's the move going?

JT, absolutely true. And you catch a lot more flied with beer.

Sandra Ruttan said...

"So, I apologize, deeply, for any offense I may have given. And if I haven't offended you, you're probably not reading my blog."

Okay, there are ways to take that - as in, have you been insulting me on your blog David?

Or did you mean that your blog is so honest it will offend people from time to time? That's how I'd take it. I love your blog, if only that you're one of the few that seems to put their foot in their mouth more than I do. (I'm smiling.) Really, truly, I adore you and your blog. I've never felt like you'd be a jerk just to pulverize me and make me feel half an inch tall!

Vincent said...

Yes, I'd get put off by an author's behaviour. Being polite and considerate doesn't cost much.

Once upon a time, a friend of mine abruptly stopped replying to emails and returning phone calls. I can't think of anything I did wrong, so I can't even assume they hate me now, but I think even if you hate someone it should be common decency to at least let them know you hate them and why.

Christa M. Miller said...

No, David, it wasn't you. In fact, you're probably one of the people I'd prefer to hang out with - along with Sandra - because at least you're honest enough to talk about THAT! ;)

And how pathetic is it that I'm all happy about the number of people here who agree with me?? :P

Sandra Ruttan said...

Oh Christa, not pathetic! This is what I miss about the old Mystery Circus, from back before I got scared off it, anyway. The chance to actually feel like you were talking to people, and the confirmation you aren't a big freak.

Vincent, I always find it weird when people do that. And then I think about the fact that if I think someone's mad at me, I'll usually withdraw from them. I'm struggling with that right now, because I'm pretty sure someone's angry with me. And maybe they're thinking I'm being a snobby bitch because I've gone quiet. But it's easier for me to talk myself into believing that they really are mad at me. On the rare occasions I email people I'm scared of about something, I usually preface it with an apology for imposing. And it still just about makes me sick to write those.

angie said...

"I think even if you hate someone it should be common decency to at least let them know you hate them and why." LOL, Vincent! A big, ouchie laugh. That happened to me almost ten years ago, and it sucked. Earlier this year, she contacted me & it got worked out, but that's something that will always be in the back of my mind when it comes to that particular friendship.

Sandra, I can relate. And actually, crying more is NOT a bad thing. Just means you're actively working on your shit instead of stuffing so it can explode in unrelated situations later - much nastier scenario. Can't remember where I heard this, but I truly believe that "tears water the garden of our souls." Just wish it didn't involve so much snot.

Trace said...

There is one writer whose personality makes me cringe and grates on my nerves like sandpaper. What I'm referring to is her blog personality. Most of the time I leave her blog shaking my head, feeling annoyed and like I've wasted my time.

I don't even know why I visit her blog, except that it's like a train wreck that you can't look away from. But dammit, she's an excellent writer. So I do still buy her books.

Trace said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Andrea at Lochthyme said...

Oh Sandra. You sound just like me. I'm painfully shy and I think people feel I'm a snob which I'm not. I just have such a hard time talking to people. Even thru email. And on the phone. But especially in person. And i figure everyone hates me or at least dislikes me. I go to a jewelry convention every other year and it's very difficult for me. I just always feel like people don't like me, think I'm weird, think I'm a jerk. And I never know what to say.

As for the person who introduced themself to everyone but you...they sound like a jerk. I mean really how hard is it to be polite. Especially when you are in the business of selling your book and by extension yourself.

And yes an author's behaviour might put me off buying their books. I take in on a case by case basis. I have some books by a particular author on my TBR pile right now. The author has in the past year said some things on their blog that I don't agree with..which normally I wouldn't have a problem with. But the way they said it I found rather mean and insulting. Now I'm not sure I want to read their books. Everone is entitled to their own opinion and just because I may disagree with an opinion wouldn't turn me off buying someone's books. But when they get nasty about it that's another story.

Bill Cameron said...

Arg! I keep writing comments and they keep vanishing in the aether! Will this one too?

Synopsis: Bill is shy, until he is not. Then watch out. He worries that people are mad at him, then when they're not he's surprised but pleased.

Previously, this was all said, twice, with great eloquence (ahem) but now he has to rush because he has to go pick up the boy from acting camp and hit the grocery and then FedEx and then, well, bah! Damn you, Blogger! Damn you to hell!

(Valium, plz.)

Sandra Ruttan said...

Okay Angie, you made me laugh so hard I think I singed off my nose hairs. Damn, that hurt!

Trace, I'm so curious about who that is! Isn't that intriguing? I find it interesting, but I'm not asking to know.

Oh Andrea, now you've made me curious as well. Ha - jokes on me, isn't it? That's what I get for not naming names. Andrea, it must be why you and I get along so well then. Or, at least, I think we do! Kindred spirits.

Bill, LOL! Yeah, damn blogger. But you and I really are siblings. My god, it's scary.

Andrea at Lochthyme said...

Yes we do get along very well! :0 You remind me of me. :)

M. G. Tarquini said...

Synopsis: Bill is shy, until he is not. Then watch out. He worries that people are mad at him, then when they're not he's surprised but pleased.

Replace your name with my name, Bill, and we could be twins.

Except we're different genders.

And you're thin and I'm fat.

And our last names are different and we have different parents.

The move is coming along, Sandra. My back is talking to me about it even as I type this.

anne frasier said...

arghh. this is what i hate about conferences. it's why i haven't been to one in over 10 years. i'm a social idiot. i freeze up. but i always look pissed off, so i could be sending a mixed message. either pissed or laughing my ass off.

it's hard to ignore that kind of thing, sandra. over 10 years ago, i attended a conference. opening cocktail party thingy. i didn't want to leave my room, but made myself. lights were bright. why do they do that? spotted two people i knew. deep breath. go say hi. they look up -- and tell me they're having a PRIVATE CONVERSATION. WTF? at a welcoming cocktail party. fuckheads. i felt like carrie.

guess i didn't answer your question, but i'm pissed off all over again. :D

stevemosby said...

Ah god, I hope it's not me, Sandra. I'm sure it's not, but still ... I hope it's not.

It's not, is it?

Anyway, I didn't think you came off as shy when I met you, certainly not as much as I was expecting beforehand from everything you'd said. I thought you were a normal, fairly confident person - certainly more talkative than me. But I think that's the key thing, isn't it? We're all our own harshest critics, and probably feel like aliens and social outcasts when everyone else just sees us as normal. We worry about whether we're "impressing" other people, but rarely consider that they might be thinking the same about us, possibly even wondering what to say themselves. We blame ourselves for awkward silences, but if you think about it, that's a bit daft when there's two of you there.

For me, I found Harrogate all right: a good mix of good people. I'm not shy, but I'm quiet, and socially I feel the need to get know people over a longer period of time before I'm totally relaxed with them. I can have drunken conversations all night long, but I have a small number of very close friends that I don't add to often. I'm certainly not intimidated by anyone, but I have to constantly remind myself it's not weird to recognise I respect, admire, like and enjoy the company of some people while having nothing much really to say to them. And that it's nobody's fault.

And on that level, I don't think you should get upset or worry too much. I generally take people on their own terms, mean well, and don't dislike someone unless they stab me with a fork, or something. On those grounds, if someone dislikes me, I tend to think they must be an arsehole, stuck in some kind of stupid emotional playground. And at the end of the day I have enough friends not to worry. No matter how many books someone might have published. My close friends, for example - never written a book in their lives, never even read mine, and of course they impress me all the time. Nobody is going to impress me just by being a writer: I have little patience or respect for people with egos.

But yeah, I would happily read a book written by someone I didn't like, however horrific they were in person. And if the book was good, I'd read more.

Mary said...

A very interesting post, but not necessarily controversial. You had an experience which made you feel "uncomfortable" and you shared it with us. Maybe the person ignored you because they see you as some kind of threat in the near future and wanted to "put you in your place".

With regard to the author who showed impatience - I guess if I had witnessed it I would think twice before buying any books, unless they are an absolute "must be read".

I know that people often think I am a bit miserable and aloof because I'm really quiet. I guess that's one of the things that puts me off of something like Harrogate, because I would prefer to try and fly through the air rather than go up to people I don't know and introduce myself!

Sandra Ruttan said...

Andrea, I was thinking the same thing...

Mindy, take it easy and don't hurt yourself!

Anne, that is just rude. Well, we'll hang together at B'Con, okay?

Steve, well, since you ask... NO, it wasn't you! But it was easier for me to meet you, because we've 'talked' a lot via email. Put me around people I know next to nothing about it's generally a different story, although you get into 'turn it on' mode. And I can do that a bit. It just depends.

But geez, no, it wasn't you!

Mary, I've been spanked before, quite seriously, for saying less. There are some who don't think any author should criticize another.

I'm sure this is why lots of alcohol is sold at these things. It helps...

stevemosby said...

"But geez, no, it wasn't you!"

Ah - you see how damn needy I am? Disgraceful.

mai wen said...

Very interesting post, I'm so glad to hear that I'm not the only person who totally over analyzes emails! Again, with electronic communication, it's so hard to get a tone and to read people, so emails end up coming off very cold to me often. Which is maybe why I include a lot of explamation points to counter this when I write emails, though I think it might be annoying, at least you know that I'm! Very! Excited! To! Be! Emailing! You!!!!!!!!!! :)

Oh, I totally think that how an author acts would influence whether or not I want to read their work, but then I'm a big sensitive baby and I take things so goddamn personally, so maybe it's not right of me. It's hard for me to respect someone's work though if I don't respect them, and I think I'd read it differently. Which is why sometimes I get nervous to meet my favorite authors or musicians. In the same aspect, I've found that when I meet a writer that I really like as a person but haven't read their work yet, I'm really nervous to read their work because I'm afraid I'll hate it and then what am I going to do? I hate lying and even if I'm nice about expressing my dislike for their writing, I feel guilty because I like the person so darn much. Or when I share my work for the first time with a new writing friend (or any friend) I obsess and worry about whether they liked it or hated it or what they'd say about it, etc.

Man, I'm a basket case, haha. Oh well, I'm learning to live with it.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Steve, you're so needy you might be a woman!

Mai Wen, if you're a basket case, at least I'm in good company! Really, you sound just like me.

M. G. Tarquini said...

I just noticed your title for this post, Sandra!

Should authors be jerks?

Um...no.

Elizabeth said...

Glad to know I'm not the only one who overanalyzes everything I say or write, or, for that matter, everything everyone else says or writes. Maybe that just comes with the trade.

Sela Carsen said...

I purposely avoided a recent blog explosion on this topic because I was given to understand that an author whose work I really enjoy was a total beeyotch. If I was exposed first hand to her beeyotchity, I'd never be able to read her books again and that would make me sad. So is that really hypocritical of me? Probably.

I just got back from a conference where I've realized in hindsight that I was probably a bit of a bore on occasion. Very likely *more* than one occasion.

Only one person was rude to me, but she was just a rude person. It was nothing to do with me personally. (I hadn't had a chance to bore her yet.)

I do try to give a lot of authors the benefit of the doubt. I'm generally quite extroverted and I know that's not often the norm for writers -- so if they're awkward or silent or even acting a bit snobbish, I usually put it down to being an introvert thrust into the spotlight.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Thanks Mindy!

Elizabeth, maybe it is the trade. At least we all know we aren't alone!

Sela, I have a feeling I bored a number of people. And you have a very balanced way of looking at it. It's nice to know some people give others the benefit of the doubt too.

S. W. Vaughn said...

*gasp!* What do you mean, Braveheart isn't Mel Gibson?! Oh, you've shattered my illusions... so does this mean Willem Dafoe is not Jesus?

Sandra, I'm so with you on the paranoia about people not liking me when they don't respond to e-mails or comments. I try to remind myself that not everyone is entrenched in front of their computers all day, and therefore not everyone is likely to respond within half an hour of me sending a message, but I can't help thinking: what did I say? How did I piss them off?

And as for reading authors I don't like personally--I stopped reading Rice after that Amazon rant where she made it very clear how much better she is than everyone else. 'Nuff said. :-)

Amra Pajalic said...

I can so relate to your comment about needing to get out more to deal with public engagements. When I lived in Sydney I was so isolated. A whole day would pass without me talking to a living soul until my husband came home from work. There is something about feeling like you forget how to interact with others, or maybe you doubt your capabilities when you've gone through such an isolating time.

I completely agree with you about not following up on the author who snubbed you. They might have an explanation, they might not. This was your experience and if you met again and your impression was corrected, cool. Until then, that's it.

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