Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Jealousy Is a Four-Letter Word

My friend Angie, who comments here a bit, sold three short stories last week to three different editors. I'm ecstatic for her. This is her path. She's aggressively pursuing it and succeeding.

Here's the thing--her accomplishments are not a reflection of my lack of progress over the last year. (Let's face it--the last new thing I had published was "Justice" in an anthology that was released back in November of 2013.) I know her success has nothing to do with me. It's a fact of this business, hell, it's a fact of life, that everyone has ups and downs. And sometimes, my downs happen during other people's ups, and vice versa.

If a writer can separate herself, separate her ego, from other writers, she'll have a healthier and happier career. But I'm seeing a lot of people who can't do that.

On Monday, a long-time trad published writer ("Whiny Writer") bemoaned that her sales were lacking because of [insert her variation of the "self-publishing tsunami of swill" meme]. Normally, I'd link to her post, but a bunch of sock puppets popped up on another blog where commenters ruthlessly dissected her post (if you read me regularly, you know where), and I don't have time to deal with her bullshit. Oh, and I'm referring to her as Whiny Writer because none of her sock puppets, who all complained about indie writers' spelling and editing, could spell "whining" correctly.

Seriously. I'd be less critical if the sock puppets had used the British/Aussie spelling--"whinging".

The thing many of these folks like Whiny Writer above don't get is that no one's reading the really bad books. If you doubt me, go look at the rankings of them on the various retail sites. If you're ranked #2,999,999 out of 3,000,000, trust me, no one's bought your book in the last five years.

If you write well and want to sell, you have to do something to stand out. Either a new/neat twist on the subject matter, cover, or price gets people's attention. And frankly, price is fading fast as a gimmick. Free or $0.99 no longer gets a new writer the attention they need for sales traction.

So getting pissed because someone else found their traction is not going to help you find yours. And if successful authors offer to help you "fix" your cover or blurb, then maybe you should listen. In the same blog where Whiny Writer's sock puppets attacked, the long suffering Annoyed Writer made the comment that Whiny Writer was right.

First of all, I'm trying not to giggle because according to Whiny Writer, Annoyed Writer betrayed the trust of writers and readers everywhere by going indie. Secondly, Annoyed Writer is selling her books for a much higher price than Whiny Writer's publisher, and she wonders why she's not seeing any sales. Whenever someone points out Annoyed Writer's cover look like something for a non-fiction Eastern art history book instead of the genre fiction it is, she gets pissy.

As Albert Einstein once said, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results.

Covers are one of the first things that catch a reader's attention, whether we or they want to admit it. Which is why Laura and I have had an ongoing discussion over the last couple of months on how to brand our covers for the 888-555-HERO series.

And guess who also has some not-so-good covers? Yep, Whiny Writer. But it's easier to blame indie writers rather than her publisher.

So what am I trying to say out of all of this:

1) Don't get mad about someone else's success.
2) Focus on your own business.
3) If something isn't working for you, change it.

And, the most important tip of all:

4) If your sock puppets complain about someone else's spelling, make sure your sock puppets' spelling is impeccable.

Good Luck!


  1. Thanks! I've been fighting travel crud, so I haven't blogged about it yet, but I did have an awesome week. :)

    And of course I had to go digging through piled up posts on a blog we both frequent to see what you were talking about. Good grief! You know it seriously reminds me of the Jacqueline Howett thing from a few years back, where she behaved so badly in what she clearly thought was a tiny little venue that wouldn't get much attention, but her behavior drew half the internet to come watch and gawk and snark and link. The writer you referred to seemed to think that because her original post went up on a relatively small site intended for her writer friends, that no one else would notice it or link to it or comment on it. How long does it take some people to figure out how the internet works? :/

    And yes, the misspellings in the sock puppets' posts (or heck, maybe that's actually how her friends write) were pretty hilarious. :D

    You know, I spent a little over a week with a bunch of awesome writers, most of whom are more successful than I am. I envy them, sure, but it makes me want to work harder. When you look at other people doing well, you can take your feelings about it and use them positively or negatively. I guess we know what Whiny Writer has chosen.


    1. Angie, considering the editors and writers are a who's who in the sff field at your workshop, I am a bit jealous. But not enough to go crazy on the internet. *grin*

      Though Big Al, the poor reviewer caught in the Jacqueline Howett mess, said he gained a lot of followers out of the incident. Go figure. *shrug*