Do you get professional jealousy often, and if you do, is it over ideas or style?
Mod R is getting hardcore with selecting blog prompts from your comments.
Yes, we do get professional jealousy. No, it’s not over what we wrote or how we wrote. It usually is related to the popularity, money, and perceived special treatment by the publisher. People get catty and snide and occasionally make passive aggressive comments, sometimes right to your face. Don’t get me wrong, some of our peers are very nice. Thea Harrison is lovely in person. Nalini Singh is very charming. Sarah MacLean is fun. Eloisa James is witty and kind with professional advice. Sarah Maas is hilarious in person. You have to understand that all of us, at this point, are bitter. We are battle-bruised from the craziness that is publishing, so if you listen to us talk for awhile, your hair will stand on end. Gallows humor is a thing.
Some people are batshit. Not going to name names, but yeah. Some are a little odd. For example, at one of conventions we attended, we had a long table at which there were about two dozen authors signing and there was a last minute shuffle, because someone didn’t like another author’s “aura” and requested a new seat. Some authors are terminally socially awkward to the point of being rude. Other authors are just mean.
For example, one time Gordon and I were at a convention, it was very late, past 11:00 pm, and we were trying to eat our first meal since grabbing a very quick coffee that morning. We were with a group of authors. We had a whole day of being on and we’re exhausted. Like four panel discussions and over 500 books signed exhausted.
Here I am, trying to not fall asleep and end up with my face in my plate, and the author next to me turns to me and says, “Why aren’t you funnier? I thought you would be more entertaining.” I am not sure if she expected me to climb on the table and do a stand up. You just don’t do that. Like basic professional courtesy, dude. I think I asked her what led her to believe that it’s my job to amuse her, but don’t hold me to it, because I was tired and my memory is hazy. I might have just glared at her.
A few years ago, I made a deliberate decision that I really didn’t care whether or not I was friends with other authors. I treat everyone with professional courtesy and if they choose to be petty, I’ll simply move on to someone I prefer to interact with. I don’t hit back. I don’t bother calling them on it. I just move on.
I believe this quote from Nora Roberts is most appropriate here.
What was the most shady practice you encountered in the publishing world? Were you always treated above board or did people try to scam/take advantage of you?
I don’t know if someone ever tried to deliberately scam us. It was mostly low ball offers and bad contracts. For example, we got screwed on the initial contract percentage on our very first contract for Magic Bites and Magic Burns. The standard royalty at that point was 8% on mass market paperback and our then agent signed us to 6%, gifting the publisher a quarter of our earnings. Our current agent has since renegotiated it to industry standard.
There was a time when publisher, acting on behalf of a large franchise, a fan of which I am, offered us an opportunity to write a novel in that universe, and the terms were so bad, that we backed away with our hands in the air. Not a scam, but just not a good business decision.
There was one instance, when we decided to write Grace of Small Magics for the Mammoth Anthology. I remember being angry about it, but I can’t recall why I was angry. I even went and looked at the old emails and there is a huge email chain where two of my friends and I are bitching about it, and then several threads from other authors being unhappy, but for the life of me, I can’t figure out why we were all mad.
As to the most shady practice, it’s always the not getting paid. Some of the smaller publishers offer contracts that lock you in for life of the work and then some of them publish your work and don’t pay you. There is usually not enough money to bring a lawsuit and getting rights to your work back can be extremely difficult.
Okay, that’s probably enough sharing for today. I have to go write now.