Sunday, June 04, 2006

First Impressions Count

I recently attended my first conference of the season, and even though it didn't have much to do with my genre, the classes were still incredibly interesting and helpful. Most of the published authors teaching the classes were likewise interesting and helpful, and for the most part, I enjoyed the day very much.

Of particular interest was a speaker who revealed ways in which to tell when someone is being deceptive. She said that most people are unable to lie directly, but instead they will skirt around the truth, modify it or qualify it in some way. Examination of statements made by various politicians and celebrities, when viewed through the lens of language, can prove very illuminating. Take a course on the techniques, and it won't take a psychic or a Deanna Troi to warn you when people you encounter are being less than truthful. It's fascinating stuff, but I can see where knowing these things might put an entirely different face on certain relationships and interactions! Cheating boyfriend? Two-faced coworker? Back-stabbing boss? Yikes!

This was one conference where the good things were very, very good and the bad thing was, well...just plain maddening. That brings me to a personal pet peeve and the reason for the title of this post.

I don't believe that any famous author attending a publicity event or conference should treat fans as though they were inferior species, no matter how tired or jet-lagged the author might be. I don't care whether that author had the worst day of his or her life or whether there'd been a death in the family, or whatever horrible extenuating circumstances could be brought to bear. When you accept an engagement of that nature, you are there as a goodwill ambassador for yourself, your book, and your publishing house. You do not snub fans, period. You do not have to become their best friend, but you do not treat them as if they are chewing gum stuck to your shoe. There is simply no excuse for such classless behavior, unless you want to qualify for an "Authors Behaving Badly" TV show. I also don't believe that said famous author should use any panel, class or keynote speech as a platform to proselytize his or her religious beliefs. If I wanted a sermon, I'd go to church. Needless to say, I was unimpressed and disappointed. I did not pay good money for this type of thing, and I will not be buying this author's books in the future.

If my books ever become well enough known that anyone would stand in line to see me, I hope that I always remember to treat people the way I'd want them to treat me. If I can't do that much, then I do not deserve the recognition in the first place. For that matter, it's the way everyone should behave, famous or not. At least, that's what I was raised to believe.


Erin said...

Hello, I stumbled across your blog from It caught my eye because - you are from Idaho! (As I am.) What sort of books do you write? I too wish to be published someday. :)

KHurley said...

Hi Erin! Prior to this, I have mostly written epic fantasy, and I have recently begun work on an urban fantasy as well. How about you--what's your genre?

It's good to meet another Idaho writer. Thanks for checking out my blog!

Erin said...

I mostly write fantasy, but my short stories tend to be contemporary fiction. I also enjoy writing book reviews.

Have you attempted publication yet?

KHurley said...

My agent's trying to sell the first two books of my trilogy. No luck so far.