What they don't tell you about before you're published.
Reviewing becomes a great big can of worms.
Whether you're a reviewer on an influential review site, or you just like to share your ratings and thoughts on Amazon, Goodreads or your own site or blog, things suddenly get tricky. And not only for those of us in a relatively small genre like m/m. The big players worry about it too.
If you give a negative review and a low rating you're accused of trying to do down your rivals. If you give a glowing review and five stars you're accused of sucking up to your friends. And when it comes to friends there's another issue that gives rise to conflict of interest. What if you really don't like your friend's new book? Do you say so in a review and risk offence? Or do you soften what you want to say, rate higher and lose credibility among the people who follow your reviews? What about other books from the same publisher as yours? There's a very juicy conflict of interest that could affect your relationship with your publisher.
So you might think, ah ha! I'll review, but not under my author name, then nobody will care. Until that is someone connects you with the other name and suddenly you're trying to do down your rivals while hiding behind a secret identity! (If that secret identity happens to be your real name it all starts getting very surreal.)
You have to be on your best behaviour 24/7
In fact you really have to start this before you're published. You don't know who might be watching your blog, or Twitter, or your interactions anywhere on the Internet. If you act stroppy, entitled or bitchy anywhere it could come back and bite you in the arse one day. You might not even know it has done, but a certain post might make someone think "never buying her books" even before your books come out!
So on the internet you have to be always "on", presenting the best version of yourself, whatever the temptation or provocation. And not only in writer hangouts. What if that knock-down-drag-out fight (where you admit you probably shouldn't have called the mod a Nazi) you had on your golf forum about playing under floodlights were to get from that world into your writer's world? They don't call it the World Wide Web for nothing. Everything is connected.
It's not only in public, but you have to think about this even in private. Private exchanges can go public accidentally with one single wrong mouse click. Friends can fall out. Do you want a bitchfest you and your now former friend had about another writer to suddenly end up being used as a weapon against you? You have to be professional at all times.
People will want you to read their manuscript.
People will approach you entirely unsolicited asking you to read and critique their unpublished manuscript. I thought that didn't really happen, until it happened to me. You can't do it. Especially not for strangers. For one thing, who has time? For another, how do you know they aren't a nutter who will later accuse you of stealing their ideas? What if you read their book and find it does actually have some similarities to something you're working on right now? Your book becomes instant nutter bait. How can you prove you didn't copy the ideas?
Even with friends, it's tricky. What if their book is truly awful? How do you tell them that without falling out? You have no idea how they are going to take criticism of their story. They might be reasonable, or they might act like you killed their puppy while simultaneously insulting their mother and never speak to you again.
You have to find a graceful way to talk yourself out of these situations without leaving the hopeful writer thinking you're a jerk. I tend to recommend online writer's forums where they might not only find a place to get more objective help with their book, but might learn that there are some things that are not "done". Even if you can't give them what they're asking for, be nice, because you never know - they might be a big bestseller five years from now! And might recall you were at least polite and encouraging.
You become the source of all knowledge.
People ask you to critique their book because some people will assume you're now some kind of writing guru. You got published! Therefore you must know everything about writing! You must know how to fix any plot problem and answer every grammar question.
Of course you know you're no guru. You're really only a few steps ahead of your unpublished friends. Maybe not even that, you might just have had better timing or a lucky break! You know you've still got loads to learn. The first time going through publisher's edits certainly teaches you that.
Be willing to answer questions as best you can. Give advice, but let people know they shouldn't really treat you as an authority and take your word as gospel. Tell them to get out there on the internet and find other opinions and advice.
People think you have the key to the magic door
And the big thing some people will think you know is the secret knowledge about how to get published. Because many people believe there is a trick to it. A magic word or secret handshake that you found out. They think you have the key to the secret door and can open it for them. If you tell them there is no trick or secret clearly you're holding out on them. Clearly you've become an elitist or part of the secret society of published authors who swear terrible oaths never to let any of the unpublished know how to pass the gatekeeper into the arcane realm of publishing.
They never believe you when you say it's all down to work, persistence and sometimes good timing! Who wants to hear that? Hand over that magic key or I'll tell everyone you're a member of the Illuminati!
So there are few odd things you may well have to deal with when you join the ranks of the published. But never complain. The benefits more than make up for it.
Check out her website for full details: Becky Black Blog
And find her elsewhere around the web at the following places:
Becky is running a FREE DRAW for a print copy of Liar's Waltz, on her BLOG until Friday 20th, don't miss it!.
From Clare: Like to stretch your writing fingers after Christmas' excesses? Fancy writing something for the visitors this month? It can be anything from a flashfic 3 sentences to a drabble of 100 or so, or even more. Any genre, any theme, any rating, any character(s). Maybe ones you already love, maybe the chance to try on a new character for size.
I'm holding a FREE FICTION DAY on the 28th, so send me new fiction - links to your existing work also welcome! - to clarelondon11 AT yahoo.co.uk and I'll post it all then :).
FOLLOW the Birthday Blog so far:.
Jan 16: Sasha L. Miller making magic happen.
Jan 17: H. B. Pattskyn shares a free short story.
Jan 10: Rowena Sudbury and the beauty of a blue moon.
Jan 10: Sandra Lindsay and her WIP characters.
Jan 11: Shelley Munro and a tour of bedrooms through the ages.
Jan 11: Dany Sirene and her love of Goth characters.
Jan 12: Sarah Madison and her decision to stop competing.
Jan 13: Alix Bekins shares her love of kink.
Jan 14: Janis Susan May on writing one word at a time.
Jan 14: Charlie Cochrane watches movies with hankies at hand.
Jan 15: Megan Derr and the inspiration in fairytales.
Jan 01: luscious_words shares some fabulous icons.
Jan 02: Jordan Castillo Price shares her experience of re-releasing books.
Jan 03: Mara Ismine wonders how important is continuity in fiction?
Jan 04: Jen shares her favourite Rom Com movies.
Jan 05: Karenna Colcroft introduces her unusual werewolf.
Jan 06: Stevie Carroll takes us on a pictorial tour of her favourite locations.
Jan 07: Tinnean quotes Jack Benny on age.
Jan 07: Josie makes a brave leap into a scary sport.
Jan 08: Elin Gregory finds inspiration at every turn.
Check up on:
Prior years fun HERE and
The 2012 Guest schedule HERE.
Want to join in but missed the original call? Email me at clarelondon11 AT yahoo.co.uk and I'll happily find you a space ♥
NOTE: most pictures chosen by me and credited where known, others may be used without direct permission, please contact me with any queries/concerns.