If I thought last weeks blog was a bit off topic, this one is even further out of left field. Everything I’ll discuss below is aimed at author conduct throughout the whole process from query to the glorious publication day, but it can be applied to a good number of aspects in anyone’s life. Feel free to take it either way. My qualifications are experience alone, so – with everything I share here – take and leave what works for you.
I’ve mentioned picking your battles in a few of my previous posts. It’s something a lot of people have been told, and generally, the saying has a rather disappointing ring to it. Picking your battles feels like ‘choosing the lesser of two evils.’ Why should you lose when you’re right?
Because perspective is subjective. We’re a social mammal – despite my best attempts to become a dragon. If you want to market anything, you need people to be interested in the item or idea. It’s why self-publishing doesn’t always work. It’s why those who have succeeded through self-publishing often spend a huge amount of time growing a platform, advertising their book, and doing all the not so fun jobs a publisher or other individual would do for a traditionally published author. However, even self-published authors have to play the ‘pick the battles’ ‘lesser of two evils’ game. Because – I’m going to tell you a deeply held secret:
To be a successful author, you need to people to buy your book.
Aghast! Not that! Anything else!
If you’re fine with your book floating in the ether with a few readers and little financial gain, you do you. Otherwise, there’s a number of different paths you could take. They all involve people whether professional (editors, agents, publishers…etc) or readers (yay!). Alienating these individuals doesn’t end well for you.
Well, it doesn’t end well unless by alienating them you’re appealing to a bigger number on a different side, but that’s more so on polarizing issues. Those are dangerous to play with and end in hurt feelings and questions of justice/injustice. My forensics background advises me to advise you to recognize there’s a difference between these two (polarizing issues and general publication processes). Don’t mix them together.
For both, I’d still advise keeping an even head whether your fighting or discussing because if you keep your head clear and your arguments concise, you’ll have the upper hand. However, we’re not in a vacuum. There are oodles of power dynamics abound here.
Individuals have a good amount of control over the future of your book. Particular individuals, that is. If you can keep a level head and consider disagreements carefully before acting, you’re more likely to have the outcome you desire or one closer to it than you’d otherwise achieve. Throwing a fit – even just a refusal to change without explanation – will get you labeled as ‘difficult to work with.’
Is this fair? Maybe not, but – again – humans form a social network which you’ll need to utilize if you want to be a successful author.