you know, I come from an industry where there’s one rule you live by–and that’s the customer is always right. Even when you know they are so wrong it hurts to apologise or to refund or whatever it is you have to do to make them happy again…they are right. Because without them, you wouldn’t have a job.
A part of being a cook or a chef or a waiter or bartender means learning how to keep people happy, no matter what. It’s a service industry, and that’s just what you do.
Which is why I’m sometimes stunned at the reaction of some authors to criticism.
Getting a bad review, or having people tear your book to pieces is never a pleasant thing. It hurts, there’s no doubt about it. But by the same token, any author who goes into this gig thinking everyone is going to just love their work is seriously deluding themselves. I mean, really, the world is a big place, and you can bet that for as many people who love your work, there’s just as many ready to shoot it down and stomp all over it. And yep, I’ve had my fair share of stomps in the past, and I dare say I’ll have plenty of more in the future. But you know, everyone is entitled to an opinion, and most authors, by the time they’ve reached publication, should have had enough rejections and stomps under their belt to cope with whatever a reader might throw. And hey, what wannabe-writer hasn’t gone home in tears one time or another over something another critiquer has said about their work? But we learn to suck it up, and keep on going. Being published shouldn’t change that.
But there’s another rule in the service industry–never diss the customer in public. Do or say what you like behind closed doors (and could I tell you some stories about the behind-the-scene antics of chefs when there’s a whinging customer about that would make your hair curl…) but in public, an urbane and pleasant face is always presented.
Which, again, is why I’m so surprised when some authors go off on a rant on amazon or in blogs about reviews or fan reactions. Like it or not, authors are working in a service industry. Their jobs (writing) depends on the reaction of their customers (the readers and buyers). Turn enough readers away, and you ain’t got a job anymore. Keeping customers happy is a motto most in service industries live by–so what makes some authors think they are special?
I’m not saying authors should change what they are doing writing wise–not at all. Hell, the muse goes where she wants to go, and sometimes, that may not be where the readers and the fans want her to go. But, like any other person working in a service industry, writers do have a duty of care to the readers. Which means, at the very least, acknowledging their concerns. Talking to them.
It certainly doesn’t mean going off about comments or reviews.
It annoys me, because I’m a reader as much as I’m a writer, and I certainly wouldn’t like my favourite authors calling me names in blogs. And yet some writers do precisely that.
I just don’t get it.
At least I know I’ll get a swift kick up the backside by my writing buddies if I start getting precious about stuff. But maybe, for the moment, I just need to stop reading certain blogs so that my dander doesn’t get up, and I don’t go off in my own blog 😉