I have a question for all of you, and if you read on, there's one for readers as well. How much do you think a bad reputation damages a writer? Or the reader/writer relationship? For myself the "so-and-so is grumpy and won't talk to people at the bar or comes off short in their emails/posts or is opinionated and I don't like their opinions they express on a list" is usually a non-issue. Personality is personality. Writing is writing.

But from the editor's side of the desk, I've had to implement policies because of writers. In one case, we took a story from someone who hadn't sent in their release with it. We did get the release. Then, we got unpleasant communication from another publication after the story appeared, because the author had sold it to us as a previously unpublished work, and sold it to them under the same terms as well. We published it first (unaware of this other deal until after the fact) and the other publication was - in my opinion - justifiably upset. What protected us from a legal issue was the release form. Now, we clearly state if there's no release we won't even consider the submission, because we realized how close we came to having a serious problem.

That wasn't enough for me to blacklist the writer. No, it wasn't until that person sent me a very insulting email after we rejected another one of their stories that I started to think it was unlikely I wanted to deal with them again.

In the past few weeks a situation came up where someone was annoying, nothing more (in my opinion). It fell to my husband's side of the ezine to deal with. I'm aware he was inclined to tell the person off, but was quite restrained, to the point of suggesting the person consider their behaviour and how that would affect an editor's choice about whether or not to work with them again. As of last night, my husband was ready to boot the person. I wasn't.

But as of this morning I took the unprecedented move of removing their story from the online reads section of our website. They sent two ignorant emails this morning, one making it clear that they didn't care if they had a bad reputation with us because their story had already been published), and one that told me to f off.

I walk both sides of the line, writer and editor, and I try to understand the frustrations on either side of the equation. However, I'm rapidly getting to the point where I don't want to work with people who get published by us and then turn around and insult us. Considering the volume of submissions and how many great stories we unfortunately turn away because of space, well...

Will any other editor admit to having a list of writers they won't work with? What do writers think? It gives me great pause to put another name on a list, even of two. (I'll ban obnoxious authors from being reviewed without blinking an eye, but this, to me, is different.)

Readers, does author reputation ever affect your reading choices?

Stuff like this makes me wonder if I want to spend my free time doing this any more. It's amazing how one bad situation impacts you more than all the good ones.

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Common courtesy seems to be in short supply these days. Or honesty, for that matter. I'm sorry to hear that some authors misbehave. It's foolish and self-destructive.

I suppose I'm too easily irritated with people in the business, in this case not the authors. I like my e-mails answered, for example, but deal with folks who are extremely casual about this. I like those I work with to stay in touch. I like my publisher to keep me informed about reviews rather than the other way around. But clearly I'm out of line with such expectations.

I answer all of my e-mail the same day. That includes fan mail. I do so courteously at all times.

When it comes to a lack of courtesy, authors are sometimes at the receiving end.
Indeed, they are. I know you're primarily talking about your book publisher, while the example I'm talking about above is volunteers who run an ezine. I always factor that in to consideration myself. I don't find our policies or procedures out of line with any of the magazines or ezines I've been published in. In many respects, we're more communicative.

But I've also learned the value of drawing a line and not responding to some people right away, because they've demonstrated over time that quick replies result in rapid-fire multiple emails about everything under the sun... I can only guess because they assume I've got nothing but free time. Being on the other side of the fence has made me aware of how many people editors/agents are dealing with at any point in time and I understand sometimes they go on holidays, sometimes things happen that derail them from their normal schedule. If I don't hear back from someone in a month I might follow up, but two weeks? I'm considering it standard.

Depsite asking for certain information with the submissions in our submission guidelines, few people actually include it. Then we end up trying to sort that out afterwards, and all that stuff consumes time. If everyone always followed the submission guidelines we'd be managing, but we lose a lot of time over niggly stuff like that.

So this person basically sends an I got what I wanted, so f you email and then insults the ezine on top of it. Talk about short-sighted. This isn't a tiny community but it isn't astronomically huge either. While it isn't exactly nice, writers are a dime a dozen. For every person with a publishing contract there are probably ten more trying to get one. Unless you're a big name you can't afford to piss on people if you want to stay published. For crying out loud, editors do talk. I was on the phone with an ezine editor from the UK just yesterday...

After being on both sides of the equation, I actually have a lot more to bitch about where authors are concerned than with the other side. And it makes me think about whether or not to continue in 2009, because I don't like having those negative feelings about people who are supposed to be my peers.
I cannot imagine behavior as you describe coming from someone with a brain. I assume this type of thing is strange and unusual. So--dump him or her for good. Heck, if I were you, I'd be very tempted to publish this jerk's FO letter for ALL to see.
Well Jack, maybe in the winter issue, if anyone gets out of line? ;)
Right. Maybe I'll run the turkey's picture, too.
I know of a number of small pubs who keep their own list of blacklisted authors, and you can bet they sometimes share information on ones that have really shown themselves to be rude and extremely unprofessional.

Just a thought, but writing is really the one art where people don't realize they have to practice, that there's an 'apprenticeship' of sorts to serve, and that their contribution is only one of many, and ultimately replaceable if it comes down to it. Perhaps people attribute more glamor to getting published than they should, and are shocked when it doesn't give them the right to diva-like behavior. There's also the thought that writers often develop skill before they develop humility. I know the process of getting rejected repeatedly knocked a lot of the arrogance out of me. I'd bet it's the ones who get published early, before they develop humility, that are the worst offenders.

Reputation can make me avoid going to watch movies by particular actors. I imagine it would make me avoid reading an author's work.
Interesting you mention actors - I draw a distinction for myself between actors and celebrities. Certain... "actors" are celebrities. People go to see movies because they're in it, not because it's any good. And it's all about them, you know what I mean? I'm really not impressed by blockbusters anymore. I think that's why I was (pleasantly) surprised by The Departed.
Yeah. When it hits the 'it's all about them' stage, I generally avoid going to see their movies.
Reputation and personality does affect how I feel about an author and their work. I can't help it. It shouldn't I know, but when I consider the fact that at some point my money may go to that person, well, I think it's jsutified. Recently I read a comment by an author who currently has a book on bestseller lists-when asked about readers doing book reviews he commented that he was completely against it as he thought that reviews should be done by people who were educated and knew what they were talking about. Excuse me? I'm good enough to spend money on your book and read it but not comprehend it and review it? Well fuck you too.

If someone hasn't mastered the basic social skills needed to make their way through the process of sending stories in to an ezine and following the basic policies set up by publishers (which, from what I understand by listening to people talk are usually pretty clear), they don't deserve to be coddled and babied-they need to grow up and learn to behave like adults. That type of behavior wouldn't be tolerated in any other business, why should it be tolerated in the publishing world just because these people might be able to write?
Yeah, the reader in me leans that way as well.
What I find interesting is that this kind of behavior is pretty much exclusive to newly published novelists and unpublished novelists. Logic would suggest that with limited credits behind him or her, a new author would consider all feedback to have value. It can be very challenging to edit your own work.

I have had numerous dealings with mid-list and popular authors and I can say that they have always been professional and considerate. These people could have egos the size of a Buick, but they don't.

Not wanting to complain (yet I will), I am gone for ten hours a day to work. It takes about 30-45 hours for me to get an issue ready and all the web pages created and uploaded. I can be called out in the middle of the night to fight a fire or help a sick or dying person, get no sleep and then spend another ten hours at work. Imagine the joy of having to then deal with a prima donna who refuses to do an edit or sends a profanity laced email when their story is rejected.

Nothing but fun...


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