Friday, January 24, 2014
Do Your Own Research, Make Your Own Judgements
This idea has been rolling around in my head all week after last weekend's playoff game between the Seahawks and the 49ers. Following the game, one of the Seahawks players, Richard Sherman, made some comments that came across as being a bit harsh. Now, I don't want to get into whether or not the comments were right or wrong, and I certainly don't want to discuss it any more than the media has been doing all week (I have to say this morning was the first day ESPN radio didn't bring it up). The point of this, however, was the instant reaction so many people had on the social media outlets.
What I found interesting was the number of people just "passing on" information they heard from someone else, who heard it from someone else, who heard it from someone else. People from all walks of life were suddenly using this information that they "heard" as being quality and accurate information. In many of the cases, the comments were far from the reality.
Recently, I have seen more and more of this happening in the publishing world. I do think a lot of it has to do with the number of writers trying to do the "publishing thing" on their own. Now don't get me wrong. These writers are doing exactly what I have been saying all along. They are out doing their research and trying to get all of the information possible to make a decision. Unfortunately, I do believe many writers are not stopping to "filter" that information or to critically think about what they are hearing, or who might be saying it.
Online discussion groups and social media are great sources of information about things going on in publishing, but with all of this information, it is crucial for individuals to take that information and consider the sources. One example I saw recently was a discussion thread going after a particular publisher. As the thread progressed, it got to the point that this particular publisher was really looking like a criminal out to "screw the authors." But, if the writers had stopped to consider the comments and to do their own research, they would have discovered several things. First, the thread started up after one (that's right, one) author didn't get something they wanted. Secondly, there were more factors that came into play with the problem that single author had. Next, as the thread progressed, writers were "adding" assumptions to the argument that eventually turned into "fact" with later posts.
Because of the "instant" transfer of information that social media has today, we simply cannot just go out and make rash decisions based on the incomplete information. What happened to that one author does not mean that it is a "universal problem." Yes, it could be, but it might not be. You as an author have to figure that out for yourself. This is especially important if you are an author looking for an agent or that first publisher. You have to remember that what works for one person might not work for you and obviously the reverse is true. Just because something didn't work for someone else does not mean it won't work for you.
When I hear of "issues" surfacing with publishers, or "potential changes" happening in the publishing world on the Twitter, Facebook and discussion threads, I do listen to what I hear. I don't just discount those ideas because they are on social media. BUT! I do do take that information and then go out and find out more before I say anything or do anything. I call the editors and publishers and ask questions. I talk to agents that may have been directly associated with the "issue." AND THEN, I make decisions about what to do or say based on whether or not this is something that was an isolated case, or if it would really impact my authors at Greyhaus.
Just be careful out there with that information. Your rash judgement call based on that "hearsay" might be an opportunity that you passed up.