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Are you a decent writer?

Some writers can be complete introverts when it comes to their work. They shy away from human contact in fear of what they might say about them or their work. But when you write stories with the intention to publish them one day, you can’t be one of those writers. You need to be in contact with other people and ask them for their honest feedback on your story. So, what has that got to do with decency? I’ll tell you.

You may have read the blog I shared about decent betareaders. As I was writing this blog, I considered there’s another side to tell: the perspective of the betareader. Because just as much as a betareader can portray indecent behavior, same goes for a writer.

Finding a betareader

Writers tend to find betareaders in writing groups on Facebook or in the Writer’s Community on Twitter. Most will just post a public message asking if anyone would be willing to betaread their story, but there are writers who contact a person unannounced by sending them a personal message and possibly even attaching their story in that same message.

That’s not decent behavior. Of course, any writer can understand the need to get betareaders, but you don’t force a story onto someone who hasn’t made it clear that they’re open to reading it in the first place.

Sending personal messages

I’m very aware of sending personal messages and how this can be taken as intrusive, so I refrain from that as much as possible. The only times I do this is when I’ve been given approval by that person or if I feel they would benefit from my message. For instance if their book’s been reviewed on my website and I wanted to share the link with them. But in no way do I expect an answer from them if I sent a message unsolicited. I even state that in the message:

But I also know my way of thinking in this isn’t how all writers think. Some start to harass the person they sent a message to, demanding an answer.

Responding to unsolicited messages

Harassing, or repeatedly asking for a reply on an unsolicited message, even in a friendly manner, is NOT okay. You have to respect someone’s privacy and set boundaries. If someone doesn’t reply to your messages, that actually IS their response. They’re not interested. If a writer then continues to bother that person, the person who’s experiencing this is well within their rights to not repy or to even block such a writer.

I’ve had people sending me messages on Facebook asking for tips on how to write. I don’t reply to that. There are enough writing groups where you can ask your questions and most times it’s even in those groups that they found me.

I’ve had people trying to appeal to my sympathy by playing the victim card. Saying things like ‘Don’t you like people from [insert country]?’. I definitely don’t respond to those kind of messages. Or perhaps I do: I block them instantly.

What happens after you agree to betaread

But there are these writers that can be an annoyance after you both agreed that you betaread their story. These kind of writers typically fall in one of these 2 categories: 1) they either don’t like your feedback and get defensive, or 2) they’re not giving you space to make new arrangements when life gets in the way.

The first type of writer is the insecure writer. They’re mostly new writers who have a hard time accepting their story isn’t for everyone. They feel the most scared when giving their work to others to read, but they’re also the most defensive when it comes to any type of feedback. They just don’t want to hear any negativity because they feel you’re talking about them instead of their work. And that’s a big difference.

The second type of writer is the arrogant writer. Mostly, these writers have been doing this a long time and they feel they have the right to boss you around because it’s their work and you should feel so lucky as to be able to read it before anyone else does. This writer is hard to communicate with and most people tend to shy away from actually communicating with this writer all together.

Of course, I’m (highly) generalizing these two types of writers, but that’s just to give you a perspective.

What to do when you meet an indecent writer

The first thing to realize is that not all writers are indecent. Most of them aren’t anywhere near the categories I just explained. They value your opinion, they want to hear from you and they overall are grateful for your help and time.

But if you do happen to meet an indecent writer, the only thing you can do is communicate your standards and if they don’t comply, leave the situation. You don’t need to get into an argument. If things heat up, just stop communicating. The message will be loud and clear then. And if that doesn’t do the trick, block them.

But do yourself a huge favor: do not lower yourself to their standard. If they feel they can treat you poorly, that doesn’t give you the right to do the same. Always remain respectful and civil, even if they aren’t.

The bottom line

When you feel attacked or your values are being questioned, it might be easier to lash out at them. But the only thing you really accomplish is letting others see who you really are and that you’re willing to communicate on that low and disrespectful level.

I still find myself in situations that test me. Sometimes I can walk away and sometimes I feel attacked and even with the purest of intentions, I will get into the argument. Only to regret it later. I guess, for me, this is one of the hardest lessons to learn in life. But that’s what being a human being is all about isn’t it? Learning how to deal with situations and making the best of it.

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