The Importance of NOT Being an Asshole.

Alright, I will try to keep this from becoming a rant, but no promises! This post is mostly directed at other writers as sort of a cautionary tale. Take it or leave it. I recently participated in an amatuer contest for Cemetery Dance. The voting is still going on and I’m pretty sure I am making finals, but doubtful I will win one of the coveted three spots that would get me published in the chapbook. This has become a popularity contest, riddled with vote recruitment and outright cheating, though I must say that Cemetery Dance has done a fine job of policing the contest. Any time that you have reader voting instead of editor voting, this will happen-it’s inevitable. It doesn’t really matter either. I would like to win, but just the act of participating has gained me a TON of exposure and HUNDREDS of hits to my website! The networking has been fantastic, and I am still very happy that I participated. My caution is not against doing a contest like this, but rather about how to behave if you do.

The rules for this contest were clear from the beginning. The definition of “amatuer” was anyone that hadn’t been published in Cemetery Dance more than once or twice, regardless of how many times you had been published elsewhere. I double checked with the moderator and YES, I was eligible to participate. So I did. This contest has participants who have NEVER written before, all the way up to people who have multiple books under their name, the publisher of Shock Totem, and everything in between! Yet, it was little old me that became the first subject of controversy.

Early into the voting, another writer started bitching on my grouping thread that I was published and not an amatuer. He then went on to start a complete thread that stated the contest was rigged, and all but called me a ringer! I appreciate the compliment, asshole! I will say that the moderator was very swift about shutting down the thread and banning the crazy guy who was becoming abusive, but that bell can’t be unrung. This may very well affect whether people vote for my story. Since then, others have complained about the number of published authors in the contest, even singling out my friend Kevin McClintock-saying it wasn’t fair to have to compete against someone who has already gotten somewhere in their career. (What can I say Kevin, I guess we just attract attention! Let’s see if it helps when our books come out!) Once again, people were not reading the rules.

My advice to those of you who are trying to break into the business? If you are given the opportunity to meet writers who are farther along in the field, use it wisely. Be gracious, make connections, and try to be professional! In any area of life, you can learn from the experiences of others. I, for one, am very helpful in finding markets for other’s stories. I may have a word of advice on something you are doing wrong. I’m a networking monster and can definitely help you in that area! I’m not saying you should kiss my ass (far from it), but atleast try not to be an asshole! Don’t go out of your way to offend the very people who might be the most help to you. I have met some great people through this contest and connected with them in other places so we can continue the relationship after the contest ends. I have also met some assholes that I will never give the time of day. Which one seems more beneficial to you? Use the experience of others to your advantage. If you don’t, then you are slitting your own throat, for networking anyway.

Thank you to Cemetery Dance for this awesome opportunity for myself and other writers. The networking alone was worth the time! If you are a fan of horror and enjoy forums, why not check it out!

10 Responses to “The Importance of NOT Being an Asshole.”

  • Jill:

    That really stinks that people acted that way. I hope you have better experiences from this point on. It’s great that you saw a silver lining in all of it. Kudos!

  • DiddyKong:

    Always remember that jealousy is itself the greatest form of validation. Without this trait in the “assholes”, would there have even been a need to blog? I enjoy your work and look forward to more.

    • C.W. LaSart:

      True-it makes me sad to see people act this way though. I have a great sympathy for other writers, I am certainly not a PROFESSIONAL yet or anywhere near it. I just can’t believe someone would commit networking suicide like that. Thanks for the comment!

  • Anonymous:

    This is the guy who was “singing out” Kevin McClintlock. I wasn’t bitching, and I did read the rules and fully understood them. If you had read my post and understood it, you would see that I was simply saying that he, and some other people like yourself, were UNDERMINING other talented writers–not saying that I fit into this category at all–who are trying to make headway into the horror writing universe. Previously unpublished people, namely. I was just saying that there was going to be a lot of lost talent with such pairings, which I guess is obvious enough and kind of an unnecessary gripe, sure, but I couldn’t keep it in. Someone who’s grossly losing a contest has to make themselves feel better somehow, don’t they? I still feel like many writers have great stories are being overlooked by the random pairing system against more experience people. But it is what it is.

    Anyway, just wanted to get my two cents in here. I don’t really liked being talked about behind my back, even if it’s my e-back. Nor do I appreciate you implying that I am an asshole.

    No ill will meant toward you or McClintlock–you’re both excellent writers. I just ask that you don’t talk shit, please and thank you.

    • C.W. LaSart:

      I re-read both my post and your comment. I never called you an asshole once and never said your name. This hardly counts as talking shit. You were venting your frustration, this is me venting mine. My comment about you was more of an aside-the guy who got pissed at me was the one I was calling an asshole. I understand that you are disgruntled about the way the contest was run, but itโ€™s not fair to Kevin or myself that we are singled out. That can also affect the voting. You singled out Kevin, but I didn’t even mention your name. And still you accuse us of undermining other writers, which is impossible since we are allowed to participate according to the rules. I did read your post and FULLY understood it. And no, I don’t think that acting in an unprofessional manner is okay to make yourself feel better. This comment alone is proving my point of the blog. And last I checked, Kevin isn’t winning his part of the contest which makes me sad, since his is a damn fine story. But hey, atleast you read my blog, right?

  • Being unpleasant online can be detrimental in very direct ways to a writer. Case in point: On a writer’s forum inviting peer reviews of novels (often work in progress), my husband and I commented honestly and politely about a writer’s work. We were both mainly positive but referred to some points that we felt could stand some improvement and work. They were points that had been made by others previously and we were hoping to give useful feedback. Like many on that community we used forum specific identities and not ‘real’ world names.

    The response from the writer was in both cases (not realising we were related in any way) vitriolic and extremely dismissive.

    Some years later the same writer, pitched this book (still with the same ‘issues’) to us as publishers! It took us all of a heartbeat to decide not to proceed with a submission process to be considered for publishing.

    Obviously the writer did not know we were the same people they had been so impolite to previously.

    The book is still unpublished to date.

    Often a-holeness goes hand in hand with an inability to take other people’s points of view on board, which makes for missed opportunities to learn and improve and also sets one apart as not a person on which other people want to invest time and effort.

    • C.W. LaSart:

      Thank you so much for this comment! You absolutely summed up what I was trying to get across. Pay attention new writers. This is why it’s important to ALWAYS act in a professional manner! Kudos!

  • Wow, thanks for sharing that. I do enjoy Cemetary Dance, some very talented writers get published there. Fellow writers, to me should be just that – fellow (read friend) writers. We all are making an attempt in a similiar venture and it is not like one writer will take away the readers of another. Perhaps the asshole in question is just too scared to look into the mirror. Me? Well as an unpublished writer myself I would kiss some butt to get advice ๐Ÿ˜‰ The last thing I would do is be an ass, the world has enough of those!

    • C.W. LaSart:

      Although I don’t think you should ever have to stoop to kissing someone’s ass, I do think you have the right attitude and understand the importance of being a professional even when you aren’t one yet. Thanks for the comment and good luck on your writing!

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