People seem to like it when I give advice. And well…I’ve never exactly suffered from a shortage of opinions. Just ask my (long-suffering) family members.
Elementary School Marni considers what advice to give…
So feel free to ask questions! About writing. About life. About anything you want to discuss.
Today I thought I’d tackle professional jealousy.
This topic has been on my mind a lot recently. See, this post about writers on social media started making the rounds on my Facebook feed. I read it, laughed, then stared a bit guiltily at the keyboard.
Because I’ve definitely humble-bragged about meeting my favorite authors before!
In fact, I’ve not-so-humble bragged about meeting people!
Case in point:
Marni plus Laurie Halse Anderson.
Marni plus Susan Elizabeth Phillips.
Marni plus Nora Roberts.
Marni plus Ally Carter.
Marni plus Jay Asher.
And my personal favorite…
Marni plus Ellen DeGeneres!
Are you getting the picture? I’ve posted ALL of these online. Why?
Because. I. Totally. Geeked. Out.
And, yes, because it feels really good to look all smart and professional and…fancy online. These pictures were taken during some of the most wonderful moments of my life. But they are snapshots in time. They don’t tell the real story.
The real story is never as glamorous. The real story is that after a night of dancing with authors at the RWA in Atlanta, I spent the next six hours vomiting in a toilet. My friends think it must have been an allergic reaction to my TWO SIPS of Long Island Iced Tea.
I kid you not. Two sips.
Did I share that with the world? Um, no. I didn’t.
I conveniently left that part out.
So should I feel guilty about my not-so-humble bragging? Am I one of those authors that people want to punch in the face(book)?!
Here’s what my friend and fellow KTeen author, Brigid Kemmerer, has to say:
I hate articles that seem to imply that we should shut up about our successes because we might make other people feel bad. It’s ridiculous. There’s no need to police social media to protect anyone’s feelings. Yes, non-stop promotion gets tiresome. But so does non-stop complaining or non-stop anything.
If people are allowing social media to make them feel inferior, then they need to step away from the computer and get back in the real world. What people post on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram is such a narrow slice of their world — and it’s only what they WANT you to see. Further, if someone IS offended or overwhelmed by what one person is posting, then they can block that person or hide them from their feed. There are a few people I’ve unfollowed on Twitter because all they tweet are promo feeds for themselves and others. That’s IT. Who wants to read a non-stop stream of that? I like social media for one reason: the social aspect.
That’s when it kind of hit me. It’s not the bragging that bothers most people. I mean, yes, sometimes it can be grating, but that’s not at the heart of this issue. I suspect that the real problem is that the publishing world is a really murky place. To the best of my knowledge, there is no way to look at a book deal and say, “Oh okay. This is standard.”
I have a friend whose debut YA advance was 5x more than mine. Another friend was paid 40x less. It was only after a three-hour long conversation that any of us were brave enough to broach the subject of advances, even though we all depend on them to keep the bills paid.
It’s impossible to know if I should commit to using Instagram/Tumblr/Goodreads, etc., or even if these social media platforms translate into book sales! Do blog tours actually help reach new readers? Or would that time be better spent, y’know…writing?
These are all unavoidable questions for everyone within the industry and the fact that NOBODY appears to have the answers makes it even harder to reach any satisfying kind of conclusion. In the wake of all that uncertainty, we all seem to scrutinize each other’s Facebook feeds to see if we’ve been left in the dust.
This is where the real professional jealousy kicks in.
So how do we fight it?
I think Brigid’s advice is spot on. Step away from the laptop. Stop comparing yourself to others. Do not check out someone’s Wikipedia page to determine if they were younger than you when they got their first book published. Guess what? It’s not a competition!
But let’s say that isn’t working for you. Let’s say you’re feeling jealous and petty and irrational, oh, and annoyed because even though you know you’re being irrational you can’t seem to logic your way out of the situation.
Maybe…give yourself a little room to be bad?
Not terrible. It’s not like you’re going to say and/or do anything mean. Are we clear? That’s not going to happen, because you are not a bully.
But sometimes it feels really good to read terrible reviews of famous books. When I was in high school, I was obsessed with a book of quotations called, Writers on Writing. My favorite section was the one where all these iconic authors trash-talked each other. There was something oddly liberating about watching them trip over the pedestal my English teachers had reserved for them. The Germans have a word for this: Schadenfreude. It means, “happiness at the misfortune of others.” I like to look at it a slightly different way though…
Sometimes it’s good to remind yourself that you’re not the only flawed person around.
So that’s my Marni Advice for the week!