Fourteen Ways to Piss Off the Entire Publishing Industry

  1. Act like an entitled douchebag. This includes, but is not limited to, open letters that are, at best, open rants.
  2. Rely on personal perceptions a single part as representative of the whole. For instance, using a possibly skewed (I’m being kind) example to claim that the “industry is fucked” and you’ve been “treated like a bitch.” For one thing, one publisher isn’t the industry. For another, this is not exactly the paragon of professionalism that you want to portray to the world, as businessperson. Speaking of…
  3. Act like you know everything, while demonstrating you know very little. Being a writer is two things: being a writer and being a businessperson. You know what helps? Learning the business side and respecting it as such. You know what doesn’t help? Comparing it to a “life-raft in a sea of obscurity and toil” and then expecting people to want to work with you.
  4. Throw a tantrum, complete with irrelevant wailing last employed by a Veruca Salt when she was lobbying for an Oompa Loompa. That behavior didn’t get her where she wanted to go, did it?
  5. Complain about being paid for writing – when there are about a billion writers out there who would consider selling a kidney for the opportunity. This is not just looking a gift horse in the mouth. It’s kicking the gift horse in the face. With steel-toed cleats.
  6. Drag innocent bystanders into your nuclear meltdown. Your agent, your editor, your doorman – whomever. Do not mention them. Do not assume they are as “frustrated” as you are. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.
  7. Use the phrase “slave-era” thinking. SERIOUSLY? Over the past couple of weeks, this has been shown to be a) unwise and b) really careless. It shows a lack of historical understanding and a huge dearth of diction. Pick another phrase. The English language is vast. I’m sure some other example will do.
  8. In seriousness, use the phrase, “THE SPIRIT OF GOD IS WITHIN YOU.” Unless you are Ralph Waldo Emerson, that is probably not the best way to a) make yourself look sane and b) stay on point. If you and God want to hang out, that’s cool. But that isn’t exactly relevant to a discussion about the publishing industry.
  9. Throw the word ‘artist’ around like there is a single definition and temperament inherent in the both the word and occupation. That whole artist-as-delicate-sensitive-flower image? It’s partial truth in some cases, but it’s also not the way to get things done. It is also not an excuse to behave like an indignant wounded victim. (Side-note: as a writer, no one is hired to be artist. They’re hired to WRITE. Artists paint, just FYI.)
  10. Whine. Complain. Wallow. Those things aren’t attractive in any employee. As a writer, you are an employee. You are hired to produce something. Produce it. Go from there. Don’t have a spaz fit when things don’t move as quickly as you’d like, citing THE INDUSTRY as failing. Shit happens in any job. Things get derailed. Projects are delayed. When that happens, you don’t march into your boss’s office and tell her that things are fucked. That’s a one-way ticket to unemployment.
  11. Proselytize about disrespect, while disrespecting others. That is the pot calling the kettle black. It is not particularly endearing, and it does nothing to further the idea of respect.
  12. Demonstrate a lack of understanding for the industry you’re ranting about. For instance, “cancel my ass” is not a phrase commonly found in the publishing lexicon.
  13. Utter the following sentence, “Trust me on this if you can’t understand me.” Whoa. First, you want to be trusted, even though you look like you’re one step away from the starting a cult. Second, you imply that if you aren’t understood, it is somehow the OTHER person’s fault? It is, generally speaking, the burden of the writer to properly communicate. That’s like blaming a math problem for its inability to solve itself.
  14. Be insincere. That is the quickest way to make yourself look like a jackass. No one likes false apologies. It doesn’t make people trust you or want to work with you. If you act like a disgruntled teenager on a pixie stix bender, fine. But that cannot be patched up with an “I’m sorry.” Apologies only work if you mean them.

For the record, I don’t believe that “bright authors [need to] try crazy things.” I think bright authors need to a) write and b) try smart things. Crazy only works in the movies, honey.

But, forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown.

  1. November 17, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    Wowzer, Missy. Who put a burr under your saddle today?

    Not that I disagree. It’s okay to whine sometimes, to your loved ones, after a particularly rotten day. There’s no need to whine incessantly just to hear yourself. It’s okay to have confidence in the road you’re walking down. There’s no need to take a machete to everyone else’s paths, just because you like the one you’ve chosen.

    • November 17, 2011 at 1:26 pm

      Gayle, Google Sebastian Marshall. It basically broke my brain.

      • November 17, 2011 at 2:11 pm

        Just read it. Wowzer. Wonder if he’ll regret this one moment, that will be forever cycling around the Internet.

  2. Jessica
    November 17, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    Look Ali, I appreciate what you’re trying to do here, but you clearly don’t understand so let’s get away from slave-era thinking. I’m going to have to ask you to trust me on this one: I’m an artist, and I know everything. It’s because the spirit of God is within me; it’s the life-raft that helps keep me afloat in a sea of obscurity and toil. Because let’s face it, I’m entitled to a few things even though the industry is completely fucked. I hate being paid to write highly intelligent literary critique for a local newspaper in some podunk town where the rest of the talent pool can’t even begin to set foot on my level. I’m an artist, after all. I deserve better.


    Your smartass friend Jessica.


    • November 17, 2011 at 1:51 pm

      That made me laugh out loud, Jessica. You rock.

  3. November 17, 2011 at 5:15 pm

    I feel like I need to stay in a villa and go to top nightclubs and parties and whatever because I’m an artist and the spirit of God is with me.

    Also, here’s some money. That’s just how I roll!

    “They see me rollin’…they hatin’.”

    • November 17, 2011 at 7:51 pm

      I want a villa, too. Who do I see about this villa situation? 😉

  4. November 18, 2011 at 6:56 am

    Excellent read!

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