I just posted this on Twitter:
How do you politely tell someone that their picking of your brain is starting to give you a major head ache? Oh, and that if they still need to pick your brain, they should stop telling you how to do what it is they're picking your brain about?
This Saturday I'm doing an authors' event at the local museum.
The original invitation said nothing about the books having to be related to Arizona, the Old West, cowboys, etc., nor did the application for the event. I've done art events there before, and this was never an issue because my jewelry uses a lot of local stones, so . . . it's just never been an issue.
I found out a couple weeks ago that the authors' event is also supposed to be local-related, which is okay because I have one book that's set in Arizona, Firefly, that I have printed copies of, and two of my Kindle reprints are westerns. And of course Really Neat Rocks is specifically about Arizona.
But I was really planning to be able to sell print copies of The Looking-Glass Portrait, because even though I've lived in Arizona for 35 years, I'm like a lot of other people in this state in that I still have roots somewhere else. And a lot of the people who will be coming to the event are also from "somewhere else."
I began looking through the list of other authors to get some idea what they've written, and I quickly became very discouraged. Oh, not because their books were more in keeping with the "theme" of the event. But because I felt completely out of their league.
Most are self-published, or published through what I refer to as limited-access publishers -- the kind who look legit but take generous subsidies from the authors. Some are published through the real scam outfits, too, like AuthorHouse. Several of the authors and/or their books aren't listed on Amazon; one is apparently the product of a Kickstarter campaign and the book isn't even on Goodreads.
Speaking of Goodreads: I looked up one of the other books, found that it had three 5-star ratings, all by people who had no other books read, rated, or even listed.
I looked at the free samples on Kindle for a few of the books. Most, by the way, are outrageously over priced. One is listed at $9.99 for a 169-page Kindle edition that has no paragraphing. Neither indented nor blocked. It made my head hurt.
Another had spelling errors on the first page and more on subsequent pages. Lots.
The Looking-Glass Portrait is listed as 366 pages, and the Kindle edition is $2.99. There is still one typo that no one else found and after I did find it I wasn't in the mood to upload another whole edition for one missing letter.
Now, you're probably wondering why I'm complaining about someone picking my brains about these books. I'm not. No one has.
Someone is picking my brains about something else, because she knows absolutely nothing about the subject. Every time I try to answer her questions, she tells me why my answer is wrong. She now wants me to teach her how to do what I do -- how I make my jewelry.
I didn't see this coming. Maybe I should have. At first all she wanted was to go out rock hunting, and I was delighted to have someone to go with me. But now she's telling me my 35 years of experience hunting rocks in Arizona are worthless and she, after looking at some Google Earth images, now knows how to find the mother lodes. And this afternoon she announced she wants to come over to my house so I can show her how I make my jewelry.
The echoes from the past were loud in my brain as I was falling asleep this afternoon, drugged by Tizanidine in hopes of getting rid of the back spasms before Saturday's event.
"Would you read my manuscript and tell me if there's anything wrong with it, so I can fix it and win the Golden Heart?"
Two "aspiring" authors begged me to help them with their books; two "aspiring" authors won the Golden Heart and got book deals. Two Golden Heart winners turned their backs on me (quite literally) and treated me like shit ever after.
I'm not ready for this to happen again.
So I tried to change the subject at about 45 minutes into today's 65-minute phone call. I told her I was more than a little bit disappointed with the line-up of authors at the event coming up. She asked me why, and I tried to explain to her that it's very discouraging to be at an event where the rest of the exhibitors (for lack of a better term) don't even really know how the game is played. (Sorry for the mixed metaphors; blame the drugs!)
She told me I shouldn't be that way. I shouldn't worry about the competition, just do my own thing. Yet when I explained that she gets upset doing an art show where there are other vendors just reselling imported junk, she defended herself, but not me. Why? Because writing isn't the same thing.
I was a bit stunned, and though I kept trying to explain -- she knows absolutely nothing about writing and publishing and admitted as much during an earlier conversation when she said she wanted to pick my brains about that, too -- she switched the topic back to rocks and jewelry.
She wanted to know how Etsy works, so I walked her through the basics and navigated her to my store on Etsy. She asked a few questions, the kind that could have been answered by doing the basic research the way I and millions of other Etsy sellers had to do, and then she asked me if I knew "X". She gave the name of an Etsy user that I didn't recognize and I said, "No, I have no idea who that is. Why?"
"X," it turns out, bought something of mine. I told her I have no idea who my buyers are -- other than a few friends who have purchased things -- and I know nothing about these buyers beyond their name and address to mail the purchases to.
Then came the zinger:
"Oh, well, I was just reading this review and I figured you must have written it yourself."
Yeah, I kinda lost it. In no uncertain terms, and with more than a little anger, I informed her I never ever ever read reviews of my work, nor do I allow anyone to read them to me, and I've been known to block people on social media who insist upon it.
I'm not sure she got the hint.
Unfortunately, both of us are doing the same art show in early April. She is encouraging me to do other art shows with her, shows that I'm not able to do for a variety of reasons that she constantly dismisses. But I don't think I'm going to easily get over being accused of writing my own reviews.