Should I be a thin skinned Writer or a thick skinned Author?

26 Feb

In this post I want to touch on how I approach the wide world out there now I’ve been published.

Basically do I let all the snubs and rejections and cold shoulders get to me and be a thin skinned Writer… or put my big girl’s pants on, toughen up and just keep going and shaking my assets and trying to get my work some attention no matter what people say, as a thick skinned Author?

It’s one of the most common problems placed in anyone’s life. Do I take all the hardships and criticisms personally and crumble and sit there feeling sorry for myself and go nowhere in life? Or accept these negatives as well as positives and keep going? It’s not just something a Writer/Author faces, we all have moments like this in our lives and how we handle them decides not how the world then looks at us, but how we then look at what else the world has to throw at us.

Recently I’ve not only received a lot of new rejections to things from story submissions to Writing Societies feeling I fail to meet the grade as to what they’re looking for. I’ve also discovered (by Googling it) that my book Bonnie’s Story is being used by spammy  Malware sites to try and trick people into downloading whatever evil crap it is they are trying to push on people. So, do I fall to pieces as no one wants me and people are abusing my name and work by using it to spread malice?

I sort of wanted to at first as it was just so frustrating to not be acknowledged for being good at anything… except to use my work to spam people. And then I thought about it and went, hang on, I’m better than that. I chose to be an Author, to be out there in the public eye with my work. I need to toughen up, take this all head on and do something about it!

I couldn’t do much about the rejections, or the fact that these people couldn’t even be bothered informing me I was rejected, simply went with the ‘no reply means rejection’ approach. Now, I can understand this from a Literary Agent or Publisher as time is money to them and they will therefore not waste their precious time bothering with rejections… but when this approach comes from people who have been in my situation and who always prose on about how they can relate to the struggling emerging Author and all that. It may just be my near twenty years in Customer Service and therefore high standards for customer service… but if I was them, I would take the time to at least send a form letter advising of said rejection. Don’t say you sympathise if you’re then going to act just like the people you yourself have just posted a massive whinge on. I may be a nobody Writer, but I always take the time to reply to any questions, comments or emails sent to me. It is manners people!

Oops, that rant came from nowhere! 😉 Anyhow, what I was trying to say was I couldn’t do anything about the rejections… except obviously have a rant… but I could do something about the spam. I reported them to Google, to the website hosts, to whoever I could. Most of them are now gone and dealt with. So what I say to Writers/ Authors in the same position is don’t just sit and have a cry about it… do something. Our lives are what we make of them so do your best to make it better.

Similar to this is last week I had a heck of a lot of web traffic to my blog from people in the USA via Facebook. All traffic was to my Media and Reviews page and I had no idea why as it’s not directly linked to any of my Facebook pages. Being the cynical and mildly paranoid cow I can sometimes be I started to wonder what it was all about. Had someone shared the link to this page and people were going to check it out to be amazed? Or, more likely, have a laugh at my expense? Thin skinned Writer me thought the most negative from it and allowed it to get to me. I mean, surely these people could have the guts to at least say to my face what was so fascinating about that page… it even has the ability to leave a comment, but did they? No twenty something folks in the USA visited, not one of them said a damned thing to me.

Thick skinned Author me then stepped in and thought, hang on: This is my public image they’re looking at, my professional persona as an Author. Is there something there that deserves any ridicule I may be getting? I looked at the page in question, realised it was quite out of date and rather shabby and so I updated it and made it more professional. Weeded out what I felt were all the crappy bits. Coincidence or not, the traffic stopped. Either it was all in my head or I had removed what everyone felt was so funny to go read on and then laugh about behind my back. Heck, I took something that may have been a negative (may have just been in my head) and turned it into a positive. Took my whingey, paranoid, thin skinned Writer self, told it to toughen up and made it all better.

When I get a review, good or bad, I take from it what I can. Most of the reviews I’ve received have been good ones, I take from it that people liked my book. Yay! And yes I’ve had some bad reviews too, so what? Have you seen some of the bad reviews top sellers have gotten simply because the reader didn’t get the book? Sometimes I’ve wondered if the reviewer actually read the entire book and didn’t just base their review on the free sample… but hey! Everyone is entitled to an opinion and I thank them for having had the time and decency to actually leave a review. See, thick skinned Author. 😉

So, how do you handle the big wide world out there as it runs over your work, your public image and your blog with a fine tooth comb? Do you take every rejections, snub and criticism with an emotional breakdown and swear to never write again!? Or do you go ‘fair enough’ and do your best to make it better?

Me, I’m a no one, my work and talents are rejected and snubbed all the time. I fail to make shortlists in competitions, I’m not deemed interesting enough to appear at emerging writer festivals and talks and my last quarter sales consisted of four copies – two of which were bought by family members.

What am I doing about it? I’m looking at new competitions, I’m trying to get myself out there more to get more experience under my belt from the festivals that rejected me, I keep writing no matter what and, you know what? One of my whopping four sales was made by either a school or library in New Zealand via Wheelers. So what if I’m a no one, I’m a no one who is out there as an Author (no matter how small scale it is) and needs to keep at it if I want the world to notice me. I am, and always will be, a Writer and nothing will ever stop me writing. Who cares if no one else reads my work, writing it is such fun all the same.

Being in the public eye, no matter how small you are, is a harsh place to be. It is up to you to choose whether you face it as a thin skinned Writer or hold your head up high, square your shoulders and mutter ‘bring it on!’ like a thick skinned Author.

Until next time,

Janis XXOO.

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Posted by on February 26, 2014 in Writing


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