It’s no secret that the world can be cruel place. All you have to do is turn on the news to know how bad things are—and it doesn’t seem it will be getting better any time soon.
Because the world can be full of shysters and those looking to take advantage of others, we have to be careful who we become friends with and let into our lives. Because of the popularity of social media and how easy it is to connect with people around the world, our vigilance has to be at the highest setting.
No matter what you do in life, you have to be cautious that you’re not taken advantage of, but as an author, I know firsthand how cruel and manipulative some people can be. It’s hard to deal with, and its especially hard to get justice for.
I always say that I’m a cynic, and in many ways I am, but I’m also trying to fix that part of me and focus on the positive. It’s exhausting constantly looking for the bad in people and the world. Questioning and monitoring their intentions takes time away from being able to live my life.
I know this means I’m looking at the world through rose-colored glasses and that I can potentially get taken for another ride, but I can’t shut myself in my house and not talk to anyone. How is that a better way to live? My glasses are only rose-colored on the edges. The inside is clear.
There have been some recent events that have happened with my writing that made me think back to those days when I was taken advantage of. One of them was an email exchange with a newsletter subscriber. Red flags were definitely raised with that one, and I did what I had to to ensure the requests didn’t continue.
Another event that took place occurred on Twitter. I had posted on the site earlier this month that I was looking for a narrator for my young adult zombie book Life After the Undead. My first attempt at making it into an audiobook fell through (I will tell you that story another time), so I was trying again. I received a comment from another user that they were interested in narrating the story. We chatted through DM, and then I emailed a copy of the excerpt that is uploaded on ACX as the audition script.
There was nothing about my exchange that seemed suspicious or weird until a day later I decided to send the Twitter person a link to ACX so they could decide if they wanted to sign up there—after all, they mentioned wanting to get into the business and needed some experience. I decided to send the message through Twitter for ease, and I discovered I could no longer send messages to this particular person.
Most people’s Twitter accounts are set up so that you can only send them messages if you are followers. Both this Twitter person and I followed one another so we could chat, but this let me know that we were no longer followers of one another. That was confirmed when I went to the account and had the option of clicking the follow button again. I did not unfollow this person, so I assume they unfollowed me.
Since I had their email, I sent them a message, but I never received a reply. I sort of expected this. After talking with some other people, it was agreed that they probably were no longer interested in doing my audiobook and that I needed to be cautious about sending them copies of my work or entering into any agreement without a contract.
I’m not sure if I would classify this situation as one that I should freak out about. I never sent more than the excerpt, and the person never asked for anything else. We talked about payment, but I wanted that upfront in case my budget (which is pretty low) wasn’t enough—there was no point wasting time talking if they didn’t agree with my pay scale. They were happy with my offer, but never asked me to send anything. In fact, I was the one who suggested I needed an audio sample so I could hear their voice, and they agreed to do it.
It would have been easy to be suspicious of this person, and maybe a small part of me is. I’m definitely curious to know why they suddenly decided to vanish after being excited, but I doubt I’ll ever get an answer. And maybe that’s where the issue lies. Maybe needing to go through the process messed up their plans of taking advantage. Perhaps when I didn’t instantly tell them I wanted to work with them without going through the steps they moved on. Who knows?
I try to be cautious with my interactions online, and there’s probably a part of me that is still naïve, but if I thought everyone who contacted me online was bad, I would never have any interactions. I wouldn’t have found the amazing fans and friends that I have. True, I wouldn’t have found a nefarious publisher, either.
My point is that we all have to be cautious about who we interact with. The world is full of terrible people, but it’s also full of good people. I understand that it can be hard to distinguish between the two, but sometimes you just have to take a chance. Stay alert and vigilant, but be willing to give the benefit of the doubt.