There is a “problem” in the publishing industry.
A lot of people think they are experts…about everything, but especially about the writing process. Granted, writers often like being asked about their own process. We like sharing ideas with people. For me, I like to share in the hopes that at least one little thing I say helps someone else on their journey. But I fully expect most of the advice I offer when asked to get tossed in the circular file–because the person asking isn’t me and I’m only an expert on how I do things.
The thing is that’s how I feel with regard to requested advice. But anymore, you don’t even have to ask for advice for people to offer it these days. And I don’t mean them just generally offering up some nugget of wisdom in their own space–because odds are that random bit of knowledge will help someone who follows them. Nope, people will come to your space to do it, too. You can post about what you’re doing and people will come out of the woodwork to tell you you’re doing it wrong and how they would do it. (Remember, you didn’t ask for help.)
Maybe I’m naive, but I don’t see this in other fields. I didn’t see it as a teacher. I didn’t see it as a lab tech. Honestly, the only other place I’ve witnessed this nonsense is as a parent. (And there even non-parents happily offer unsolicited advice.)
But have you ever thought what it would look like in regard to other decisions?
Joe: “I’m getting a new car.”
Bob: “Did you pick it out already?”
Joe: “Yeah. I’m getting a Tesla. I checked out the company and then took a test drive. I bought one on the spot.”
Bob: “Well, you really should have…”
Seriously…no one does this. And they shouldn’t. Don’t be Bob.
Alternately, I recently learned the hard way, if you know multiple experts on a specific topic and are just looking to see who’s available to answer a question that you need for a piece you’re working on…do not post that question on Facebook. Not even with a header that you’re looking for an expert opinion or an opinion from a professional. The armchair whatevers pop out of the woodwork and start answering. And then…they will start arguing (and worse, they occasionally will argue with the actual experts when they do show up to answer.) Save yourself the headache.
If you’re just looking for someone who is immediately available, post no more information than “I’m researching for a book and need to speak to a professional ______. If you’re qualified, please message me.” Or something. Do not invite that circus into your life.
You can thank me later.
But yes, the “experts” in the publishing world are everywhere. Occasionally they have some qualifications, but more often than not, they don’t. So, with that in mind, I will leave you with this little nugget of wisdom from Robert Downey Jr. (It’s always attributed to him, but I can’t find an original source, so do with that what you will):
“Listen, smile, agree, and then do whatever the fuck you were going to do anyway.”
Do you, and don’t worry about the “experts,” especially when you actually need an expert.