What is it about the internet…
December 13, 2009, 10:01 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: ,

…that people think they can act like two year olds?

Somehow the rules we live by day by day, the etiquette we use in our every day dealings with other people, the manners that ensure dealing with even strangers does not have to be an unpleasant, brash encounter, seem to be quite gleefully tossed asunder under the cloak of the internet.

On the internet, you can vent your spleen, splash your greenest colours, vomit vitriol from every aperture, and all from behind the safety of an alias.

No, it’s not sweet Jane Doe posting these remarks about how unfair is life, the universe and everything, it’s Ms Dejected and Despondent, or such similar disguise.

It must be wonderful when you know everyone else is wrong and you’re right and you have to tell the world. It must be wonderful to attack people, tell them they’re cheats and don’t deserve to be where the are, from your towers of moral superiority. It must be fabulous to have that level of self assurance. Mind you, not enough self assurance to sign your name to your posts…

So this weekend, I’m seriously disheartened by sad and angry people who post vicious things about others on the internet. I’m saddened. Disappointed in my fellow man. Or at least the ugly ones. And yes, I’m talking about the weekend brouhaha that erupted over the weekend at iheartpresents. The post was to celebrate the winners of the latest Presents writing contest. Unfortunately the celebration soon deteriorated. A published author winning a contest? How dare they?

I once read a fabulous article by Jenny Crusie in the Romance Writers Report (the RWAmerica journal) about professional jealousy. It stuck with me because of it’s brash honesty and its powerful message and it’s very appropriate now. It’s called “Green Is Not Your Color: Professional Jealousy and the Professional Writer” and you can find it here.

Here’s just a taste of what to expect…

“You wanted something, somebody else got it, and that’s not a good feeling. It’s normal to feel disappointed.

Then wallow in it. Quietly, to yourself, the bathroom is always good for this, but just let it rip. For five minutes. That’s all you get, five minutes to be seethingly, teeth-achingly bitter. It’s your five minutes, so make the most of it.”

It’s sad to see that some people prefer to use the internet as their bathroom.

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32 Comments so far
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Well said Trish.
I am going to read that article and I hope others do the same and apply the lessons.
Carol x

Comment by carol marinelli

You are so right! I’ve been saddened and appalled this weekend by the viciousness on iheart. Its something I’ve never seen before in the romance community – although I’m a relative newbie. Still, I hope I don’t see something as vicious among writers ever again 🙂

Rach!

Comment by Rachael Johns

Thanks Carol. I read it years ago (can’t remember when it was published) and its message stayed with me all this time, simply because its so powerful and so true.

You want to be a professional writer? So be professional. From the very get go.

Comment by trishmorey

Hi Rach. It has been appalling to witness, and totally unbelievable seeing there are no losers in that contest. Everyone who writes a chapter gets read. So maybe there’s one big winner (or in this contest’s case, two! plus two runners up) but that doesn’t mean you won’t get a request for a partial, it doesn’t mean they don’t like your writing, it doesn’t mean they are saying never to darken their door again.

Everybody wins a prize, even if it’s only the satisfaction of being one rejection closer to that sale (and you learn heaps with every one, so that’s nothing to be sneezed at)

It baffles me. It honestly does. It’s mean spirited and selfish in the extreme. Just baffling.

Comment by trishmorey

Trish, I totally agree! HQ-editors have done so much to guide everybody to the perfect chapter. They don’t deserve this. Being a professional writer is tough. If you can’t deal with rejection in a professional way, you’d better choose another occupation. I – one of the entrants and yes, rejected, no feedback although I’m a published author :-)- am grateful for the time and the contributions HQ-editors as well as you and the other HQ-authors put into this contest. Your messages came definitely through!

Comment by Audrey

I think the didactic posts from published authors tended to pour fuel on the fire of the disgruntled wannabes.

I think the attacks on the authors were totally unwarranted and several posters went OTT but I don’t think M&B did themselves too many favours in the way they promoted the contest. At the end of the day though the result is the result and whining about it won’t make a jot of difference.

Can’t say I’m grateful to the eds though-what’s that about? Promoting M&B through every means including comps is their job THEY’RE PAID TO DO IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Comment by Hmmm

Audrey, thanks for dropping by and thanks for your comment. Writing is all about rejection – certainly when you’re starting out. It’s one of the things that makes you tough, and if you can stand the heat, it’s one of the things that separates you from those who can’t and just want to bleat about it.

Congrats on your entry. As someone said, check out the blogs where they feature the finalling entries and the editorial blogs why they finalled, and I’m sure you’ll get a lot from it.

Comment by Trish Morey

I think the didactic posts from published authors tended to pour fuel on the fire of the disgruntled wannabes.

Thanks so much, Hmmmm. So you didn’t like hearing advice from published authors? In what sense? Because the published authors didn’t agree? Or am I missing something in your enigmatic post?

Like I said before, there are no losers in this contest. My grief is that some people persist in ensuring there are.

Comment by Trish Morey

And Audrey – wasn’t talking about you re unpublished authors – trying to condense issues, because honestly, you could write a thesis on what transpired last weekend.

I know how difficult it is to sell across lines and publishers. There is no secret pass or handshake.

Bit of a bugger, really, cos it would be really handy:-))

Comment by Trish Morey

Of course there were losers in that comp. 542 of them infact, to say otherwise is just patronising nonsense.

I can take or leave advice offered by M&B authors-like all advice some of it is good, some of it is self-serving. My comment was simply stating a fact that the comments of published authors added to the vitriol expressed by the disgruntled wannabes on the blog rather than the opposite.

Comment by Hmmm

I disagree. Emphatically and wholeheartedly. Nobody who entered is a loser, for the reasons I mentioned above and more.

Some people clearly like to think that way, however, and it seems, some of those people delight in others feeling bad too.

Forget it. If you feel like a failure, be it on your own head. You’re there alone.

There is nothing wrong with not finalling in this contest. There is nothing that spells failure. And if you can’t see that, then more pity you.

Comment by Trish Morey

You seem to be assuming a lot about me without any justification. Let’s use plain and simple English shall we? In the context of the competition, there were two winners and 542 non-winners or losers. That doesnt translate to those 542 being losers in general, just that in that competition they lost.

Simple English is such a challenge for some, but there you go.

Comment by Hmmm

Well, there you go. You have me at a disadvantage. My name is out there. Whereas yours, hmmmm, what was it again, I’ve forgotten.

Meanwhile we have 544 entrants, 2 winners, 2 runners up, and how many get requests? How many will get continuing follow up from editorial on their entries? And how many simply benefited from entering this contest in some other way, by knowing they want to target the Presents line, by knowing they would rather target Desire, or Superromance, or some other line, or by learning something about themselves and their writing, or by just knowing their work was out there being read?

Why are you so happy to write that off and make people feel miserable?

Quite frankly, I don’t understand it.

It baffles me, it truly does.

Comment by Trish Morey

It’s a shame that people feel like they ‘lost’ a contest. Even when I entered and got the form I didn’t feel like a ‘loser’. There were people who won, I didn’t win, but I hadn’t lost anything. I had gained a lot though. Experience, the chance for an editor to review my work, and ultimately, the confidence to submit through normal channels.

And, on behalf of the people not acting like squeaky wheels, I’d just like to say most everyone I’ve been in contact with about the comp (even those who got the form R) have reacted like what they are: professionals.

Comment by Maisey

Isn’t it amazing, Maisey? Even more amazing when someone who didn’t even enter calls the people who didn’t win losers.

What’s with that?

Comment by trishmorey

Trish – I totally agree with yoiu and was appalled by the outpouring of vitriol and venom on I Heart Presents – and now being brought over here. I’ve talked about it on my blog too and had many responses from other who feel the same.

Hmmm – well, Hmmm indeed. If you have somethng you believe to be fair to say why hide behind a pseudonym? Trish was right. There were no losers in that contest. Every single one of the 544 entrants ‘won’ a chance to get their first chapters read early and concentratedly by the editors instead of having to wait for them to get to the submission in the ‘slush’ pile. They got honest professional responses within a few short weeks when they may normally have to wait 20+ weeks even to be read. That is an opportunity which other aspiring authors who can only – for example – submit a query letter and a synopsis would really hope for. Some – we don;t know how many yet – will have receievd encouragement and maybe some advice as to how to procede with their works.

I saw no didactic posts from published authors – only authors offering advice and pointing out their own stumbles – some of them harder than others – on the road to publication. Not sure at all what is self-serving in there but it does seem to me that in your present state of mind I’m sure you’d find it. For my money it was certainly so much less self-serving than spiteful comments about people’s spellings or sign in names!

And finally – the editors did take on extra work and extra responsibility with the contest. They already have thousands of unsolicted manuscripts to work theough on a yearly basis. More than enough to keep them fully occupied. The contest was an extra taken on on top of their normal duties. And the short turnaround time made it more so. It was a special opportunity made because they are well aware of the numbers of writers who aspire to writing for the Modern/ Presents and Modern Heat lines.

As Trish said – why are you so happy to write that off and make people feel miserable? (Though frankly, ‘happy’ is the last thing you sound.)

Kate

Comment by Kate Walker

Hi Kate, thanks for dropping by, although I wish it were in more pleasant circumstances.

BTW, congratulations on your 25 years in publishing. That is one mean feat. Every book, every year is another mountain.

Happy celebrations!

Comment by trishmorey

I did not enter the contest and I was disappointed by the result. So I would not be so quick to assume that everyone who posted that they were upset by the result is just a disgruntled person who didn’t final in the contest. I was disappointed by the result. I thought it was a contest for aspiring authors, that was how it had been pitched. I think a lot of posters were upset by the apparent rule break. It was then clarified that there had been no rule breaking, fine but HMB allowed that the upset at an apparent ineligible entry winning over the weekend. If they had to consult their legal department then they obviously had some problem with the winner of the Presents part of the contest. It was obvious that people were going to research winners and find out about this person’s history. If they had a been a bit more up front they could have avoided the majority of this situation.

I agree with Hmmm – published author’s coming along telling everyone to act professional and that this was all sour grapes did nothing but inflame the situation. Not everyone commenting was an aspiring author. Do not assume anything about anyone on the internet.

I’ve been around the internet a long time and I’ve seen things kick off and authors jumping into the fray rarely ever helps things.Sometimes it is best to stand back let something burn itself out rather than adding fuel to the flames.

While it was perfectly legal for the two published authors to win, I think you would have a hard time convincing anyone that it was morally and ethically right for them to enter a contest pitched to “aspiring authors” and win.

Next year, HMB can discover more “new talent” that they already knew.

Comment by Rebecca Scott

I think everyone agrees it could have been handled better from the editorial side, Rebecca and I suspect HM&B will take all the comments into consideration if they’re ever going to run another contest (and thank you for being honest enough to sign your name).
It was unfortunate the announcement was made the way it was before the weekend to go unmoderated.

That does not excuse people whipping themselves into a frenzy, refusing to listen to people asking for moderation, asking them to wait and be patient and to act professionally.

Whatever the morals or ethics of any one decision, frankly the world of publishing is a tough place. If people can’t act professionally, they won’t last ten minutes. I don’t think that’s inflammatory. It’s good solid advice.

Comment by trishmorey

Oh my.

Two things the internet has taught me. One, more people genuinely enjoy being unpleasant than I would have believed possible before starting to go online regularly. Two, online fights attract bystanders and agitators eager to ramp up the tension by any means, so never assume the person ranting at you has even the remotest stake in the original argument.

I wouldn’t be surprised if HMB stop running open contests like this in future. Why should they bother, after all, given all the fall-out this time round?

Comment by Jane Holland

Indeed.

Comment by trishmorey

Kate, Trish dragged the Presents dispute to her blog-nobody else.

My final comment to you both, Kate and Trish is to suggest that you both reread Trish’s blog entry and take the advice to heart, particularly

“It must be wonderful when you know everyone else is wrong and you’re right and you have to tell the world. It must be wonderful to attack people, tell them they’re…” disgruntled, jealous and unhappy “…from your towers of moral superiority. It must be fabulous to have that level of self assurance…”

Comment by Hmmm

Nope, I wrote a blog. You dragged yourself.

I hope you enjoyed the article.

Happy Holidays:-)

Comment by trishmorey

Trish, I’m one of those writers who got an R, but still feel I benefitted hugely from the contest. I learned so much through planning and writing this particular story, then editing it. I also now know for sure what I should have figured out eighteen months ago- no matter how much I enjoy reading them, Presents is not the line for me.
I don’t feel like I’m a loser. (Okay, I did, but only for five minutes!)
I feel like I’m a learner, and that’s a good thing.

Comment by waitingforthecall

I’m so glad you feel that way, because you should! And yes, it’s right to be disappointed too. That’s human and we all relate to it.

One of the most valuable things we can learn as writers is where our voice fits and a lot of that is finding out where it doesn’t. Strangely it’s not always in the line we love to read.

I hope you soon find a home for your voice! (And I’m glad you enjoyed the article. That Jennifer Crusie’s certainly got a way with words:-))

Comment by trishmorey

Fab article, Trish, made me laugh! Thanks for the link.

Comment by waitingforthecall

Sigh. Trish nailed it when she pointed out that the internet seems to be a license for people to behave badly. I wonder how many of these people would have behaved like that in their workplace. Maybe they should ask themselves the following questions; would I say this, or behave like this in my workplace? Would I behave like this in a workplace I wanted to call mine? Would I behave like this in public? Would I tolerate it if my child came off the sports field shrieking abuse at the referee and calling the other team/player cheats? If the answer to any of the above is “yes” well, okay. That’s your prerogative. Just don’t expect the job, or public approbation. No matter the rights of wrongs of a situation – always behave professionally. No name calling. No casting nasturtiams on someone’s log in name.
I am particularly amazed at people who apparently are stunned that their first submission got the form R letter. Um, that’s what happens to most first submissions. You cannot tell on the basis of one submission if you will one day be able to write in a particular genre. If you are advised not to keep working on the same ms then that is advice to turn to a new story. Not to give up. It is not saying that you will never fit the line. Just that this story doesn’t. Reworking the same material over and over is a dead end. Editors do not have time to explain to several hundred people what is wrong with their first chapters. That’s what comps run by Romance Writers of America chapters, Romance Writers of Australia and the Romantic Novelists’ Association(UK) are for. You will get the feedback you need from those competitions, which are, with a few exceptions, for unpubbed authors. But be aware, a very few comps like that ARE open to pubbed authors not published In That Genre. For example, making the switch from category to single title.

Very few authors even come close to selling their first manuscript. This is reality. Possibly this is where people have become confused. The story may be a fantasy. Our approach to the business side of publishing should not be based on fantasy. And the business side of publishing includes professional behaviour.

I’d have to agree that it was a mistake to put the announcement up and then leave it unmoderated over the weekend. An explanation might have defused the situation. But in the end, as I tell my sons, people are responsible for their own behaviour. We are also responsible for reading and interpreting the contest rules. No one is saying you can’t feel disappointed. No one is even saying you can’t express that disappointment, let alone query something. Just remember to do it politely. And please double check facts. Somewhere amongst all the venom on the ihearts blog, someone has claimed that Susanna Carr has written for Presents for years . . . okaay . . . so WHY would she bother with this contest when she already HAS an editor reading her stuff? And why don’t any Presents books show up under her name at Amazon.com or Amazon.uk? Just curious, you understand.

Comment by Elizabeth Rolls

Well said, Elizabeth. I love your books, btw. 😉

Comment by Jane Holland

Thank you, Jane. I find the whole thing quite amazing. Sure I can understand people being disappointed. I can understand them wanting an explanation if the rules weren’t clear to them. I can’t understand the rudeness. But if people are prepared to give up after one rejection, then they aren’t going to last the distance anyway. And if the “I feel like giving up” comments were just initial rant and disappointment, then that, right there, is a very good reason to keep your fuming private.

Comment by Elizabeth Rolls

Amen!

Comment by Trish Morey

I have to say I stayed out of the whole debacle on i(heart)presents. It was such a shame to see people carry on the way they did. Trish I thought your comments over there were fantastic, as were the other published authors.

It makes me wonder how these ladies are going to feel once they settle down, how proud on their behaviour will they be than? I think they all need to grow up.

Sandie
w/a Cassandra Cornell (sometimes).

Comment by Cassandra Cornell

Thank you, Cassandra, I appreciate your dropping by.

At least it has settled down now. Actually my good mate, Carol Marinelli has a fabulous fun blog over on iheartpresents today – well worth checking out!

Comment by trishmorey




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