All right. I really wasn’t planning to do another writer rant this soon after the last professional behavior one.
And then I saw a prime example of a behavior I really, really dislike on Twitter this morning.
A writer with “USA TODAY bestseller” in their bio showed up in someone else’s comments and started–ahem–mansplaining, combined with gaslighting. It was a political thread, nothing to do with publishing, and they started throwing off standard red flags that indicate that they’re, um, kinda stereotypic in their views about women and what women are attracted to in a man (specifically, that women are turned off by men who cry). Person got more and more defensive, accusing the women who said that said person does NOT speak for all women, and, well…
But that’s not the source of my rant, though it’s probably a good thing for said person that they weren’t engaging with romance writers, especially Romancelandia. If that person thought they were getting raked over the coals by us, then Romancelandia–especially since said person writes romance (and whose Big Book falls in the Nazi redeemed by Jewish girlfriend genre) would have really given said person a hard time.
The source of my rant is the claimed “USA TODAY bestseller” in the person’s bio.
I looked it up. Near as I can tell, the work that got that title?
Not the person’s short story in that anthology. The entire anthology. I skimmed through that person’s website, and the publisher listed? One of those packagers that claims they screen all submissions and only take a certain percentage of the best (but as near as anyone in publishing who follows these issues and these packagers can figure out, that has more to do with “how much money can you spend” than anything else).
Perhaps I’m just overly scrupulous. By this person’s lights, I could claim more critical acclaim than I currently do. I’ve been in critically acclaimed anthologies. Heck, some of my work has briefly flirted with Amazon bestseller status. But I don’t make a big deal about it. Why?
Because while all of those wonderful, marvelous placements give me joy, they are not the Big Ones. Because I know too much about what is involved in earning such titles than to stuff them into my short bios. Well, I’ve taken to trumpeting the Writers of the Future and Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off semifinalist placements in my long bios, along with the Anthology Builder Finalist, but those are all for standalone works, not anthos. One antho I was in earned an USA Book Award accolade; another was an IPPY finalist. Another was recently ranked as Best Short Story Collection of the Year by the Fantasy Hive. I’m sure there’s some that I have forgotten, but oh well.
These placements give me joy, but do I think they make me something special?
Not really. I’m a decent writer, the hybrid/self-published version of a solid midlist writer in traditional publishing. I turn out decent stories but nothing that is of the ilk that propels me out of the rank and file into greater visibility. I’ve made peace with myself about that. It’s just the way things are. I have fans who appreciate my work, and that’s great.
There tends to be a common thread amongst writers who play up and inflate their award credentials.
First of all, they tend to be amongst the aggressive and poorly-behaved writers who take offense if their pronouncements are challenged, even outside of their particular areas of expertise.
Second, they tend to–um, well–spend more time promoting themselves than actually writing.
Third, they expect–nay, frequently demand–recognition that doesn’t match their performance.
And finally, in the long run, they end up flouncing off, grumbling because we don’t acknowledge them as wonderful, marvelous, and the final authority.
One of the prima donnas of publishing, in other words.
In this case, the person deleted their Twitter account after complaining about how mean we wimmens were. But I’ve had similar encounters with women writers, predominantly on Medium. In those situations, the people involved made a big fuss about their prominence, their awards, their recognition.
A quick surf revealed that neither writer had a significant presence OFF of Medium.
They come in all varieties, for sure–and they sure aren’t pretty.
And I do my best not to be one of them–which starts by not describing myself as an “award-winning writer.”
Gimme a Hugo, a Nebula, or something of that level?
Then I’ll beat my chest about what I’ve done. Otherwise?