Alice and Jess are neighbors. They chat about superficial things at neighborhood dinner parties, including TV shows. They might have been better friends if they tried, but neither really put in much effort, and so their discussions were always distant. Then, one day at a dinner party, Jess starts telling Alice about this TV show that she made. Alice, not wanting to be rude, but not really interested, says, “That’s nice. I’ll have to look it up later.” Every time Jess sees Alice- in the shopping mall, at the grocery store, at the park- all Jess talks about is this TV show, and how many ratings it’s getting. Since Alice knows something about how TV shows work, she decides to check it out too, just to see what’s got her acquaintance so obsessed.
The TV show is not Alice’s cup of tea (Yes, I did pick the name just to use that pun). Not only can she see the strings holding the space ship, but the whole thing was filmed in Jess’s basement with a handheld 8mm camera, and full of her off key singing. She tries fast forwarding to another episode, only to find it’s more of the same.
Alice, not wanting to hurt Jess’s feelings, says nothing. She pretends that she just hasn’t gotten around to it. After all, there’s a million TV channels and hundreds of shows on each one, and she only watches a TV show once every few days anyway.
Until Jess tosses a box full of DVDs of her show into Alice’s living room, and tells her to go stand on the side of the highway handing copies out, because she wants more views.
Now, Alice has a busy life. All those mushrooms won’t grow themselves, and someone’s gotta make the doormouse stop screaming. The Cheshire cat’s gotten out again, and the Hatter’s spilled mercury all over the floor. Plus, Alice is trying to get hired at the local TV station, and they’ll see her and think she likes that awful show. It’s a small favor, but Alice is being asked to do something for nothing, and getting nothing out of it except inconvenienced when she already has too much to do.
Alice says no. Alice sets a limit and explains her reasoning.
That should be the end. Alice owes Jess nothing. Period.
Sometimes, you have to tell people no. Publishing is an industry where you will ALWAYS hear no more than yes. The old quip about a thousand monkeys banging on a typewriter? Describes publishing perfectly. It takes a long time and a lot of work, and the odds are SO damned small that your work will be a success. What do you figure each monkey jabbing at a typewriter would think if suddenly, they’re told they’re writing Shakespeare and they get all the bananas? With self-publishing, any monkey can grab the results of their typewriter and claim it’s Shakespeare. Doesn’t make it true. Doesn’t mean the next monkey over needs to give them a ride to the fruit stand.
Sometimes, you have to respect no. Even if you disagree, even if you think they’re being selfish or mean, or that if they needed help you’d help… No still means no. It is not context dependent.
Flat out: I will sing your praises from the sky if I feel your book is wonderful. You won’t even have to ask. You’ll know exactly how I feel about your book. If I am ASKED for crit, I will give it directly, good, bad, or indifferent. But if you ask me to do anything, I reserve the right to say no. I only get 24 hours in my day, just like everyone else. I don’t mind people asking for a quick favor, be it a crit or some promotional help. I do mind people who won’t take no for an answer and have little drama queen, childish fits.
Alice looks scornfully on Jess as Jess kicks and screams on the porch, then closes, and locks, the door.
That’s quite enough of that! Alice thinks as she takes a sip of pishsalver and goes chasing down the doormouse.