Rebecca Moesta – Never, Ever Be a Jerk!

The publishing industry is an incredibly small world in which relationships often form the foundation of business. These relationships are one of the primary products of an agent, allowing him/her to ensure a manuscript makes it to the right people. However, times are changing and authors can no longer depend solely on others to manage our businesses. So as businesspeople what do we need to know about building relationships?

Rebecca Moesta expresses her view in a very simple and direct manner. Never, ever, ever, ever, ever be a jerk. To anybody. Even if they deserve it. Especially over the Internet (which is really permanent these days).

There are writers who have intentionally built a branding platform off quip and sarcasm. Some do it well, some do it poorly, but all trade the goodwill of certain groups for increased visibility. Myself? I don’t have the right sense of humor for that sort of approach nor is my aim in social matters precise enough. Instead, I have adopted Moesta’s philosophy.

In short, Moesta preaches professionalism. If you were a professional in computer security, would you refuse your services to a customer because their political views were on the opposite end of the spectrum from your own? Would a baker bad mouth a particular demographic to the customers waiting in line to buy cupcakes? Are you happy when the company delivering your furniture is eight hours late? Do you go back to restaurants that give you a meat lovers pizza when you asked for a vegetarian? All the same rules that apply to any other business apply to writers. Be someone customers and other professionals will want to do business with and your professional life will be much smoother.

There’s one story in particular that drives this point home for me. Rebecca was at a conference over seas with her husband and co-writer Kevin J Anderson. As they are climbing into a taxi at their hotel to go to the convention center, they notice a woman standing on the curb and offer to share their taxi with her. The ride passed quickly, and as they disembarked Rebecca and Kevin paid for the taxi. The woman offered to pay her share of the ride, but the couple refused, saying that it was an expense they had planned on in any case and that it was their pleasure to share the ride with her. Rebecca went on with the rest of the convention without giving the incident a second thought. Years later, the woman made an appearance at one of Rebecca and Kevin’s signings laden with shopping bags full of books. As it turns out, she had been so struck by the Rebecca and Kevin’s small act of kindness that she had gone and researched them and had ended up buying and reading their entire library. For the price of a cab ride, they had created an avid fan.


4 Responses

  1. Bill Cherf says:

    Rebecca’s words are so true. Having been already in the publishing industry, I have seen, first hand, the often held truth to the expression: “Karma never forgets your address.” As a relative newcomer to the world of fiction, I was amazed at how some so-called established authors comport themselves in public. I just refuse to do so as I respect the public, even though they might be a bit much sometimes.

    • Nathan Barra says:

      I know what you mean Bill. There have been a number of authors that have shunned or spurned me (even before I started seriously pursuing my writing career). Surprisingly, I don’t buy their books anymore. Don’t let a bad day drive off a fan!

  2. Great advice. I have been so tempted to be a jerk with a local well known writer in Tallahassee whom I think if the epitome of the word jerk, but have so far resisted. As you said, it is a small industry, especially in specific genres, and you can look on Facebook and see that everyone knows everyone else. It is especially important not to respond to the jerks on reviews, which can really bite you.

    • Nathan Barra says:

      Trust me, I know that temptation all too well! But, as you said, all you can do is resist the urge to be the karma certain people deserve. Besides, being a nice person is often more fun anyways.

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