Agency Lessons: Atom-bombing bridges

I had another, completely different, post all queued up for today. That will wait, because this is important.
It wasn't until I became an agent that I fully understood exactly how small the publishing world is. Seriously, everyone knows everyone else's business. That's why I'm constantly advising folks to keep things professional, even when you've lost all respect for someone. This business is too small to burn bridges.

As some of you may be aware, a popular anonymous Tumblr account shut down last week. LifeNPublishing was one of the bloggers I followed as part of a group of anonymous individuals from all different areas in the publishing world. While I didn't always agree with her assessments, I enjoyed the blog for what it was. A tongue-in-cheek poke at some of the more ridiculous aspects of publishing from one of the underpaid minions in it's midst. It was great.

The site shut down because an author decided to take issue with some of the posts from LifeNPublishing that poked fun at authors and probably hit a little too close to home. So instead of letting it be water under the bridge, this author decided to Atom-bomb the bridge. How? She threatened to expose the anonymous blogger and write a formal letter of complaint to her employer, putting her career in jeopardy.

Here's why this is a horrible, horrible decision. For one, the anonymous bloggers post these snippets of hilarity as a way to blow off steam. No matter where you work, there are people you probably want to throttle and toss out a 3rd floor window. By having an online outlet to vent, these professionals are able to keep it cool when yet another person complains that they didn't work all weekend to make them happy. 

Second, did I mention how small publishing is? This author has completely lost the respect of the blogger she threatened. Now the author may be thinking that's fine with her. But what happens when this underpaid professional is promoted, giving her more veto power over projects? Or how about when that author's dream publisher snatches up this blogger? How will she react then when this author's manuscript lands on her desk. Or when one of her clients is asked to blurb your latest book?

It might feel good in the moment to slam a few doors or write a scathing email, but the only person you're hurting is yourself. This business is difficult enough without making enemies. And this applies to everyone from your readers and bloggers to agents and editors. You do not want to make a name for yourself by becoming the author no one wants to work with.