An Ode to Cattiness

The other day I saw a post on Facebook by someone who has self-published a novel. In a very high-handed way he said that he was a “real author” and wouldn’t lower himself to do anything as silly as Nanowrimo. I respect people who don’t want to do it, and I know that there’s a level of kitch to the whole thing. But I was really embarrassed on this fellow’s behalf. Yes, he has really authored a novel. After self-publishing it, he did a promotional give-away of the darned thing. I downloaded the free copy and tried to read it. I couldn’t get past the second chapter. It was pretty bad. I don’t know him personally, but I actually considered contacting him and offering to help proof-edit-improve his future works. I chickened out because it seemed like a weird thing to do, contacting a total stranger to say “let me help before you do something like that again.”

My only reason for bringing it up was that I was struck by how snobby, rude, and wrong his post seemed. This guy’s trying to promote his self-published fiction (he’s basically a well-heeled wannabe), and he’s making fun of all these other people who have the same dream he does. Regardless of what it means to be a writer, or to be published, it’s just not cool to be stuck-up. And more than it being not cool, it’s a terrible approach to marketing. He could just as easily have said “Nanowrimo isn’t something I have time to do, but I’d love to encourage all you aspiring authors to check out my first book!” – instead of being an elitist and alienating people, he could have been polite and maybe gotten a few people to read his work. (Granted, it’s not very good work, and I’m not saying that to dish more meanness out into the world, I’m just saying it because I believe in honesty.)

So, as I’m going on this very gradual journey toward being a published novelist myself, I’m taking a good look at what others are doing. I think if we simply must be catty, we can save it for personal emails and conversations. In an age where the digital world connects us so much, I think politeness will pay off. Even if it doesn’t pay off, why not be gracious for its own sake? As far as good examples go, I’m going to recommend budding writers check out Gail Carriger. She’s a hoot to follow on Facebook and Twitter, she’s never negative, and I’ve even emailed her and gotten a lovely reply. I hope someday I can be half as genteel myself. (I also highly recommend her books!)

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2 Comments

Filed under Random Thoughts, Writing

2 responses to “An Ode to Cattiness

  1. Wow, that guy has some nerve! I had to chuckle because a lot of other people are equally snobby toward self-published versus traditionally published works. I wonder how he’d like it if someone said that to him, that they consider self-published stories to be inferior to stories that have been deemed worthy by someone other than one’s own egotistical self? ;D

    Carriger writes steampunk, I see. Have you read her steampunk stories? I bought The Steampunk Bible by Jeff Vandermeer. I’m more interested in non-paranormal steampunk…really enjoying Scott Westerfeld’s “Leviathan” right now.

    • K.P. Hornsby

      Can I blame Nanowrimo this late in December for my very late reply? 😉

      Yes, I’ve read Carriger’s “Parasol Protectorate” books and simply can’t recommend them highly enough. I’d never read any steampunk before, and heard a free reading of the first chapter online – I listened to it just to kill time, and loved that sample so much, I immediately bought the book. (And this was in grad school, when I wouldn’t part with a penny without good reason!) After that, I pre-ordered the others as they came out — I probably haven’t totally fallen in love with a series so much since reading books as kid!

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