When I made the decision to self-publish my first book two years ago, I was well aware that I would be one among thousands of other African-American authors, who all write the same genre(s) that I do, and that I would have to put forth a lot of effort to build a fan base and get people to notice me. At the same time, I never came into this to be in competition with anybody. I’ve never been a hater..I can congratulate other authors on their success and still shine at the same time. But it seems that not all African-American authors feel this way.
Since becoming an author, of course I network, follow, and have become associates with other authors on social media, mainly Facebook. But it seems that every day, several times a day, all I see is one author/publisher/editor/promoter or anybody associated with anything literary, hating on the next person…trash-talking each other, as writing and publishing books is a competition rather than a business. At least five times a day, I read subliminal diss posts from countless authors, publishers, or whatever saying how their way of writing /publishing is the best and only way that’s right to publish, edit, or write a novel, and if you aren’t doing it their way or get on their team (publishing company) you won’t be successful as an author and you will fail. The irony in that is that while they are quick to try to call out another author/publisher.editor on what they perceive them to be doing wrong, their own posts and/or books aren’t much better, and are often riddled with mistakes: incorrect grammar, misspelled/misused words, etc. I might catch a lot of heat for this post, but this is my opinion, which I’m entitled to have; and as I’ve always heard: If the shoe fits…
I hear so many AA authors complain all the time that there aren’t enough of ‘US’ on the top Bestsellers Lists (USA Today, New York Times, etc.)…that those accolades typically go to white authors and/or AA authors who have been in the game for many years. While I do think the literary business can be extremely biased towards AA authors, sometimes we don’t see that we’re creating our own problems. Instead of focusing on their own books/writing, too many – and I hate to say it- Urban authors/publishers/editors are spending more time trying to out-do the next person than they spend writing the best books they possibly can…doing all the hard, necessary work that it takes to make it on the New York Times Bestsellers list, for example. I’m willing to bet that the authors (white, black, or whatever) who do grace these bestsellers lists aren’t spending their time on Facebook trash-talking and posting subliminal disses at other authors. Instead, they are focusing on their own work…their own journey and aren’t concerned with what the next author is doing (or not doing) right; not feeling the need to call another author out on how much time they spend (or don’t spend) writing, or complaining about what resources they use to help them along the way, or worrying about who’s graphics designer is the best (when all the book covers look exactly the same anyway) And the reason why I specifically noted Urban authors is because they are the only one’s I see arguing and talking about each other on a daily basis. I read many different genres and follow authors of all races, and I don’t see this happening anywhere but in the Urban Fiction genre. It’s irritating and it’s distracting and just plain stupid.
I am too busy focusing on ME and MY career to be concerned with the next author’s business. Again, I wish everybody much success in their literary journey’s, but I don’t hardly have the time to sit around all day, nitpicking and focusing on everybody else’s mistakes and feeling the need to call them out on it on Facebook, so everybody else can jump on and co-sign (hate) on them..especially if it doesn’t involve me or my bank account. Why concern yourself with the next person’s business? What about the next author, publisher, or whatever’s work makes you so angry if they don’t write, edit, or publish the way you feel they should? Unless you’re invested in them, and your monthly royalties depends on what the next author does, you’re wasting time worrying about the wrong things. The way I see it, there is room at the table for everybody to sit and eat. We can accomplish so much more together than we can apart.And not only is all the bickering and feeling the need to call everybody else out on what you think they’re doing wrong petty and silly, it’s extremely unprofessional. If I were a literary agent interested in your work, potential author wanting to sign with your company, or reader looking for new authors to fall in love with, I would never choose to spend my time or money on authors who spend more time on Facebook arguing and beefing with other authors than they do writing/publishing their own books. Nobody’s journey to the top will be the same as yours, nor should it be. As long as you’re doing what it takes to get there, that should be all you worry about. If it’s not constructive criticism meant to help, rather than criticize (and most of what I see on Facebook isn’t) it’s just mean and unnecessary. That’s just a little something to think about.