In all of the blogs, articles, books, and groups on writing, most of the emphasis is on the affirmative path toward publishing, no matter the definition of publishing itself (indie, traditional, journal, etc.). I, however, am a fan of the avoidance method for success, otherwise known as the “Learn from My Mistakes” school of winningness. Type “avoid” into the search on this blog, and readers will be confronted with many posts on what not to do as writers and when trying to get noticed.
It should go without saying that one should not masquerade as another person, deny that such masqueradization is occurring, and then blame readers for noticing the hoax, but well, apparently it needs to be said to at least two people. They know who they are (they just don’t care). So in the interests of making a few rather blunt, you’d-hope-this-is-obvious information, I have the following bad ideas to list:
- Make everything about yourself—Every form rejection, every piece of negative feedback, and so on, feel free to take offense from it and stew for a long, long while about how idiotic your new nemesis is. You can never have a second chance to blow a first impression, after all.
- Gripe openly and to anyone who will listen about the slights you’ve suffered, and/or what garbage is on the market rather than your work—Sure, we all complained about Snooky, because that was just egregious. But using your burgeoning online presence as a complaining space will make you look amateurish and unready in a snap.
- Write predictable plots with yawn-inspiring characters, or regurgitate from the most popular, contemporary novels—Hey, I’m sure we’d all love to read another vampire diary.
- Waste no time helping or talking to other writers, published or not—Writing heroes need no friends; we have agents drooling for us because our craft is so wicked brilliant. We don’t need no stinking supportive community. Be more like V.S. Naipaul, who has few peers, none of whom are women.
- Write outside of industry expectations, and refuse to cave—That nobody wants your 170,000-word horror novel is a sure sign they just can’t see your greatness, not that it’s pretty much unprintable and a sign you can’t tell a more concise story. So while you’re at the writer’s convention, be sure to mention that you just can’t, under any circumstances, cut even 5,000 words from your epic.
Please feel free to do any and all of these, or other ones, like harassing literary agents and editors who have previously rejected your work. Or you could show up to the publisher’s office and scare the bejeezus out of everyone by insisting someone take your manuscript—just don’t be surprised when that someone turns out to be Bruno, the head of security. Certainly, be as confrontational and unprofessional as you want.
It just makes the rest of us look better.