D. F. Krieger

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Writer Wednesday: Cap Your Pens

I've had several friends and authors come to me over the last few months very upset. Most of them have been hurt, a few have been worried, and all of them should feel flat out insulted. When they come to me and tell me what is bothering them, it takes every bit of common sense I have not to bitch slap someone and give them a lecture.

For those of you who are readers, I have a bit of advice to give. Cap your freaking pens! Especially if a book is already published. My god, how insulting. And if you think you are doing it to be nice, you are severely deluded and need a reality check.

*Takes a deep, calming breath* Okay, for those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, let me explain. These authors I'm speaking of have come to me (some in tears) because a "friend" sat down with their already published book, read through it, and messaged them with a list of errors or "suggestions." Really? Freaking really?

So let me enlighten you people who think you are being nice. You aren't. End of story. Let me explain why to your little brains since you obviously didn't have a voice in your head telling you not to do this. I'll be your voice, and may you shudder if you think to do this again.

1. When you messaged these people, did it not, for one tiny second, cross your mind you might hurt their feelings? They poured their soul into their book, and you are going to sit there and nit pick it apart or worse, tell them where they screwed up writing it? Uh, like hell good sir. You want a book to go a certain way, write your own feckin book!

2. What did you expect the authors to do about it? I'm not sure how it goes with a self pubbed author, but for a published author, if you find a couple of mispelled words and rile them up to wanting to fix it, this is how it goes. Author contacts editor, editor contacts publisher, publisher contacts marketing and pulls copies from every source. Author and editor have to go over edits AGAIN, resend to formatter, then wait for it to be formatted and placed back on shelves. Guess what, that happy high they get from release day, you're such a good friend you killed it for them.

3. Now they are a nervous wreck. Nice job, you've probably destroyed any enjoyment the author has received over people reading this book. If they don't get it fixed, they are always going to worry everyone else saw those same errors (May I take a moment here to state there probably isn't a single fiction book in the world that doesn't have some kind of errors. Probably non-fiction too, but that's a whole different ball game. It doesn't matter how many people go over a book with a fine-toothed comb, things will slip through.) While we're on the subject, not as many people are as much of an asshat as you that they let one stupid misspelled word bother them to the point they had to make a documentation of it. I read a book just last month for pleasure that bothered me because two different people had dialogue in the same paragraph. I let it go because as an editor, I see shit that Jane Doe may not see or care about.

So, dear reader, I say again, Cap Your Freckin Pens. You are not doing your friend any justice by pointing out pus versus puss, how a character should have behaved differently in a situation, sat versus set, or whether the maid would have done this versus that. With friends like you, who needs enemies... ~ D. F. Krieger


Kacie said...

I couldn't agree more! I know it's not the same thing (and I'm definitely not trying to make it seem the same), but when I was writing/editing for my college newspaper it never failed that every Friday when the paper came out I would get a slew of unsolicited advice on what I should have done with the layout, how I should have asked this question or not that question, how I should have changed the lead, how I should have chosen a better picture, better caption, better this, that, and everything else! It was annoying and disheartening all at the same time. I poured my whole self into that paper each week spending countless hours sitting in an office by myself staring at a computer screen to make it "perfect" only to have someone with absolutely no training tell me how to do a "better" job. I finally started telling people that if they didn't like my stories we were always open to student submissions and even new staff writers so if they felt like they could do my job that much "better" then I would definitely let them try. That usually shut them up quite fast, because as much as people want to criticize they usually don't want to have to do the work themselves.

D. F. Krieger said...

Kacie - Thanks so much for responding. It is quite a bit the same thing and what you described is exactly the point I'm trying to get across. It is disheartening in so many ways to work so hard and have people tear it apart, especially the ones who claim to do it because they are your friend. And you are very right, I've found most of these readers are either writers who never made the cut, or readers who dream of writing but never "find the time."

gayl said...

Thankfully this hasn't happened to me yet. I do however work for a person who never has anything positive to say, who only points out the negative. It is disheartening at work - I can only imagine how it would feel to have a friend tear down what you poured your heart and soul into writing.

Dahlia DW said...

A book is like a meal. Certainly, I may not have enjoyed the candied steak bites or the peanut butter bacon, but to point out how I would have prepared the food is both egotistical and rude.

Enjoy the book. Or don't enjoy it. Just don't give the writer an inbox-full of what you would have done.

I'm not saying fawn all over an author, saying that they can do no wrong. If a reader doesn't Like something in the book, feel free to say so. We all have different experiences and bring varied points of view to a work of art.

That being said, respect my point of view. Feel free to disagree, but don't tell me how it should have gone..