A bit of email traffic from my brain.
To: Burgeoning Author Alex
From: Sunglasses and Leather Jacket Alex
Subject: Be cool, Alex. You look desperate.
Hey, Alex. This is the much more sensible side of you, and we need to talk about your literary image.
I know that you’re excited about your new book coming out, and ever since last December, you haven’t been able to shut up about it. You’re doing some things that make me cringe, and frankly, you’re not impressing anyone–you come off more like a cheerleader having a Ritalin overdose. If you keep this up, everyone is going to know that you’re not that great, and it’s going to be middle school all over again.
You remember middle school, right? When the youth group leader let the other kids raid your luggage and tie a pair of your saggy briefs to the bus antenna, and they laughed at you all the way home? We don’t want that, do we?
Let’s talk. I’ve enumerated the list of your faults, and come up with an action plan.
1. Stop telling strangers about your book deal.
This may come as a surprise to you: Every conversation with a new person is not about them finding out you’re an author. Other people are special, too. Your book isn’t even for sale for another year, so it’s not like they could go buy it even if they wanted to. Let’s say you met a guy who bought a Ferrari. Buying a Ferrari is a rare and difficult thing. Would you like him if every sentence revolved around his car? Of course not.
And how are you going to feel when something dreadful happens and the book deal doesn’t result in a published book? Remember that time you got a comic book deal, and you were going to be in every store across the country? Diamond was going to promote the comic, and you told everyone you finally did it. For two years, you bragged and bragged, until the deal fell through, and everyone found out there was no need to pay attention to you.
Besides, it’s for the best. If that comic had come out, the readership would’ve crucified you. It was complete shit. On that note, I hope your forthcoming novel isn’t shit… It would be a real shame to tank on the public stage, or worse. What if your book is hurtful? What if you’re callous and idiotic?
You know what? It’s probably fine, and I’m getting off topic.
All I’m saying is, “So what?” You did a thing few people ever do. Stick a 26.2 sticker on your car and shut the fuck up.
2. Stop acting like successful authors are your peers.
You know how in the past, you’ve reached out to really successful authors to have little chitchats online? Those people are successful because they’ve put in the time. They’ve been a part of the industry for years; They’ve sweated a lot of failure, and uncovered a lot of success. And I know what you’re thinking. You’ve failed a lot, too. The difference is that you haven’t actually succeeded yet.
I mean, how annoying would you find it if some bumpkin from Alabama came into your office and acted like they had a clue what you were about? Your heroes have serious, Annie Leibovitz-level author photos, and you have thinning hair and a dad bod. It was cute when you stood in a wheat field and pretended to be all wistful for the camera, but no one labors under the illusion that you’re actually fabulous.
Don’t talk to famous people. You’re being a pest. Wait until they talk to you, because if they’re not talking to you, you’re not worth attention.
(Also, you’re mentoring PitchWars? You know those mentors are people with books out, right?)
3. Stop being so eager.
If I had to name your worst trait, I’d say you’re overeager… but you really have so many. You’re elitist and narcissistic, pudgy and dull, you oversell your intelligence and people buy it. You’re basically a decade and a beard short of a full Alan Moore-type thing… which you will never have if you keep being so eager.
I get that you’re excited to start being a published author, and that drive has brought you to the very bottom step of a very tall staircase. But for fuck’s sake, would you please wait more than five minutes to answer a goddamned email?
Seriously, every time you get an e-mail from your agent, editor, PR person or another author, you answer immediately. It’s just sad, really. Publishing happens in years, not minutes, but you’re treating your inbox like a game of Pong. And guess what? No one wants to be your opponent.
I don’t want you to take this too hard.
I know how you obsess over everything and beat yourself up. However, it’s my duty as the image of what you could have been to inform you that you’re pathetic. Actually, pathetic is noticeable, pitiable. You’re much more… unremarkable? I’m having trouble coming up with the exact word.
Which isn’t a good sign, since you think you’re a writer.
Try to chill out, okay? For the both of us?
To: Sunglasses and Leather Jacket Alex
From: Burgeoning Author Alex
Subject: RE: Be cool, Alex. You look desperate.
OMG did I tell you that I got an e-mail from my agent the other day and he was like “hey” and I was like “YO, MAN I LOVE YOU”
Author of EVERY MOUNTAIN MADE LOW, Solaris 2016
“Be excellent to each other.” -Rufus
[contact info redacted]
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