Gabino Iglesias shares his list of ten types of authors who can go fuck themselves and explain why some crime writers deserve such an insult.
Back in 2017 I was writing a piece for LitReactor and suddenly realized the amount of reactions it was surely going to get. You see, at that point I had already been doing the columnist thing for almost a decade. It had all started back home with a monthly political column I wrote for Puerto Rico’s largest newspaper.
By the time I stopped writing it in early 2016, I’d received four death threats, thousands of “corrections,” and enough insult to last me a last me a lifetime. In any case, I tweeted this after finishing that column: “Everyone who’s gotten angry at one of my columns should hear the stuff I don’t even bother to pitch.” The result was almost immediate; a bunch of authors said they wanted to read some of the stuff I didn’t bother to pitch to editors.
I’m all about making my friends happy, so I wrote the first incarnation of this list and it was published in a venue that’s now defunct. There were angry emails, insults, invitations to fight, blogs written in response, etc. Sadly, I see some of the same behavior that inspired that column still happening. So, here we are. I’m ready to make some more friends. Let’s get started, shall we? Here are ten types of authors who can go fuck themselves (God I’m good at making friends!):
1. Authors who hate almost everything about writing
There are a bunch of authors out there who are constantly complaining about how hard editing is, how much it sucks to not be famous, how the market is flooded with books, how much rejection blows, how dumb agents are for not thinking their work is outstanding, how lonely this gig is, how most editors are idiots, and how they failed to meet their self-imposed word count for the day. Listen, if writing brings you nothing but pain, then maybe this isn’t the gig for you.
Everything mentioned above is part of being a writer. You don’t have to enjoy it, but the thing that matters, which is writing itself, should bring you enough joy to outweigh all of the other stuff. In fact, even though I spend most of time telling folks to carry on, to push through, to hustle harder, and to keep writing, I’m here to tell you that if writing destroys your happiness and fails to bring you pleasure, then maybe you should quit.
There are a bunch of authors out there who are constantly complaining about how hard editing is, how much it sucks to not be famous… [and] how lonely this gig is…
Seriously. Everyone’s an author. We need more educators, honest police officers, taxi drivers, cooks, etc. There are other options. Editing is how you make your work better. Stop bitching about it. Rejection is part of the game. If you can’t take it, don’t play. I received a rejection last week. Did I complain? No, I thanked the editor for his time and sat down to read the story and try to figure out how I can make it better before sending it elsewhere.
No one owes me anything, so I hustle and try to get into publications. I win, I celebrate. I lose, I work harder and try again. If writing is hard, painful task and all it inspires in you is complaints, start looking at different things and explore new creative outlets.
2. Authors who are professional coattail riders
Two things are bound to happen if you do the writing thing long enough. The first is that some good folks will reach out and help you. There are a lot of great people in the publishing world, and they take the time to help others out. The second thing is that you will meet big name authors at conventions or readings or online.
We all need as much help as we can get, but what we do is mostly up to us. That’s why it makes me angry when I see authors out there befriending successful authors just because they think that being friends with them is a quick path to publication or an agent or a blurb. Stop doing that. Riding someone’s coattails makes you look like an asshole. I know many successful authors and the one thing they have in common is that they are humble people who sit down and put in the work.
You should do the same. Don’t ask for handouts. Don’t ask for agent introductions. Don’t befriend editors just so they’ll put you in their anthologies. Oh, and don’t put up with bullshit from famous authors because you think one day they’ll blurb your book.
3. Authors who forgot how to be humble
The previous one kinda ties in with this one. As many of you know, I’m also a book reviewer, and the easiest way to get me to turn down your book is an email telling me how exciting, great, amazing, genre redefining, outstanding, unique, superb, and special your book is. You spent a lot of time working on your novel. I understand that. Trust me, I do; I’m also a writer. I want people to read your work and enjoy it and say nice things about it.
When that happens, you can quote them. What I don’t want is for you to tell me how amazing your work is. Don’t tell me you think you are the next Stephen King (which, by the way, is sad because we already have a Stephen King and what we need is the first you). There’s a fine line between being confident (“I think you’ll enjoy this narrative”) and being an asshole (“This is the best book you’ll read this decade”). Really, go fuck yourself. Stay humble, folks.
4. Authors who don’t know how to use social media
There are approximately a trillion articles online telling folks what works and what doesn’t when it comes to using social media as platform to showcase your personality and brand, interact with others, build community, and sell books. However, I still see folks every day sending out DMs about their book on Facebook and Twitter the second someone accepts their friend request or starts following them. Stop. Doing. That. Shit. It’s unprofessional and annoying.
You can be interesting and engaging and that will lead to more sells, connections, friendships, and attention…
Yeah, too many people do it and this is probably the entry that’s going to lead to the most hate. I don’t care. Pay attention to what people say about authors who do that and you’ll see I’m right. Sending a DM with a link to your book is the literary equivalent of the unsolicited dick pic. Don’t do it.
You can be interesting and engaging and that will lead to more sells, connections, friendships, and attention than plastering a link to your book in every thread you participate in. Also, don’t mention your book when folks ask for recommendations. Try to spend more time talking about the work of others than you do talking about your own. And, again, don’t use DMs to sell someone your book before you’ve ever interacted with them. Social media can be a great tool, but only if you use it right.
5. Authors who put down people for what they read and talk smack about other genres
I don’t read comics. I don’t read a lot of fantasy or cozy mysteries. You do? Awesome! If you make some good points, I’ll even check out stuff you recommend. Putting others down because they enjoy stuff you don’t is like considering someone an idiot because they like a different dressing on their salad. I love horror, crime, bizarro, poetry, nonfiction, noir, literary fiction, and many other things. I like to spend my time sharing my love for the things I like instead of hating on romance and historical novels.
The fact that I don’t like something doesn’t make it bad and doesn’t mean that someone who enjoys that thing is less smart. Authors who insult other based on what they love instead of sharing what they love can go fuck themselves.
6. Authors who want to “destroy narrative”
Let me explain this one before you react. I’ve seen too many authors who made their name with traditional narratives say that they now want to destroy narrative. I’ve also seen authors who have never sold a story say that their main goal is to destroy narrative. I’m all for destroying shit. We can start out by destroying patriarchy, racism, or transphobia.
However, when you say you want to destroy narrative, I have to stop, sit down, and analyze both your discourse and your work. Every time I’ve done that, the result is the same: usually it is an author who sucks at storytelling, or a known author who made his or her name writing traditional narratives, and is now out of ideas.
Sure, I’ll check out your experimental work, but if your pitch is “My novel has no story, characters, plot, or dialogue. It’s basically about commas taking a shit on the page. I put some doodles in there, too,” well, I’m gonna take a pass on that one. Furthermore, this line almost always comes from folks who describe their work as “smart,” “cerebral,” or “post-narrative.” I’ve been fooled before, homie, so fooling me now is hard as fuck. You want to kill narrative? Maybe we need to sit down and talk about how your storytelling sucks.
7. Authors who spend more time beefing than writing
You know who you are. You write 2000 words a day hating on folks, defending your previous comments, owning the libs, and engaging in nonsense. I look around at most of my successful friends and can’t find a single instance of them wasting time doing that. You’re angry? Write. You want to make a point? Write. You want to spend all your time fighting online? Go ahead! We probably don’t want to read the book you’re not writing anyway.
8. Authors who don’t support other authors
If you think every other author out there is your enemy, you can go fuck yourself. We’re all on the same boat regardless of our level of success. Retweet stuff. Share links. Write reviews. Protect those starting out against predatory presses. Give praise when someone deserves it. Be a good literary citizen and your grain of sand will help us construct a nice little beach free of hate and stupid nonsense.
If you think every other author out there is your enemy, you can go fuck yourself.
Trying to hurt others or going out of your way to bring them down or mess up their careers makes you a douchebag. Don’t do it. Don’t engage with those who do it. Karma is a thing. You know, unless we’re talking about bigots. If we’re talking about bigots, destroying them gets you cookies.
9. Authors who are so salty they feel the need to reply to this piece
Oh, went a little meta on you on that one, didn’t I? Hah. Seriously, if you’re guilty of one of these and you’re so angry at me that you have to write a blog post telling me I’m wrong and/or you feel the need to drop a scathing comment on social media…go for it!
Opinions and assholes, right? Well, these are my opinions and you’re not going to change them, just like I’ll probably won’t get you to stop sending messages with a link to your book to every new friend you make (they’re going to unfriend/unfollow you with the quickness, by the way). In any case, I’m jaded. I don’t care about the opinions of most people, especially if they’re strangers.
I care even less about the opinions strangers have about my opinions. I call it noncareception. You hate me and this piece so much that you wanna fight? Really? Fine, come see these hands or go fuck yourself, bud! Have a nice day.
10. Authors who think what they do is a gift to the world
You’ve met them. They share chunks of their WIP and want all of us to thank them with tears of joy running down our cheeks. They ignore all other authors because no one can surpass their greatness. They talk about writing all day and you have no idea when they actually sit and write.
We write because it’s the only option. We write even when the stuff we write doesn’t get published.
Oh, and their last published thing came out seven years ago in a defunct magazine. They use words like “craft” and “polishing a gem.” Here’s the main things most authors need to internalize: if you stopped writing tomorrow, the only one you’d really hurt with your decision is yourself. Yeah, even if you have thousands of fans. Trust me, they’ll find something else to read. We’re lucky to do what we do. We love to do what we do.
We write because it’s the only option. We write even when the stuff we write doesn’t get published. We take time away from friends and pets and partners and family and sit by ourselves and listen to the voices in our heads and write it all down and then read it, hate it, rewrite it, edit it, and hopefully get to share it with the world.
It’s a beautiful thing and we need to be grateful that we get to do it. The moment you lose track of that and start thinking that everyone needs to pay attention because you are doing what you love and they owe you that, the minute you start thinking people owe you their time and their focus and that the world is a better place thanks to the stories you “gift” it, then…well, you can go fuck yourself.
Bonus round! This one is question-based:
Are you a racist author? Go fuck yourself.
Are you an author who harasses women at conferences? Go fuck yourself.
Are you an author who thinks reading fees are great because it keeps some folks from submitting? Go fuck yourself.
Are you one of the authors who has threatened to kick my ass because I write about diversity in publishing? Go fuck yourself.
To check out Mystery Tribune’s collection of essays by Gabino Iglesias, please visit here.