Monday, January 31, 2011

Be Mindful of What You Say but Careful of What You Write

Be mindful of what you say but careful of what you write. My parents used to tell me this as a child all of the time. It was likely due to the rather disturbing stories I'd write as a child of inanimate objects flying around the house and as I got older the "forbidden" love stories I'd scribble about on the dozens of notebooks in my bedroom. As a teen, I didn't understand why my parents were so controlling of my words and often rebelled against them in my writing.

As I grew older, I realized why the pen is truly mightier than the sword and it's something I'm often surprised to find many people online forget. You can scream at the wind and howl at the rain but the moment those words are on paper (or screen) they are immortalized and the world's perception of you is forever changed by them. People believe what they hear but they SWEAR by what they read! Celebrities live with this fact of life as their words are often twisted in tabloid TV, e-zines and magazines. Why do you think their statements are often penned by their publicist or agent?

Authors often find themselves in the unwanted predicament of reading a bad review or hearing criticism about their work they don't find flattering. I often tell my clients to ignore these or simply say, thank you for your review and leave it at that. Unfortunately, not every author finds the "turn the other cheek" ideology appealing and decide instead to engage their "attacker" in a public forum. HUGE NO-NO! Yes, it's hard to see that scathing review and you probably spent your morning downing coffee (or tea) with trembling hands wielding your cigarette like a 60s Hepburn movie but please don't wield your sword in retaliation! Pen an email to yourself. One where you rant and rave and call the reviewer every name in the book, bring down the angels and lay a curse upon their house and brethren. Then, when you're done and sitting at your desk panting like a marathon runner, simply DELETE the message.

As an author, your name is your brand and believe me when I tell you that agents, editors and readers will Google your name and see what's being said about you. Is your name being run through the mud or are the blogs and forums (yes, these pop up on Google) singing your praises? I will not be the first to tell you that agents will pass up on great manuscripts when they find the author is a "problem child". We want to be your advocate. Your representative to the publishing industry and help your career blossom. Don't let your pen get in the way of your success.