I actually have lots of rants stored up inside me, but this one needs to come out.
This rant is written to any authors who have been published and had any measure of success. More specifically, it's written to those of you who think that, therefore, you can look down on first time, "wannabe," or "lesser known" authors.
Do you remember younger you, who hadn't published a book yet? Do you remember looking up to those authors who were published no matter how well they sold because oh my gosh that's what I want to do with my life too?
My appeal to empathy isn't working because you've forgotten what it was like to not be successful?
Let's appeal to something else. Let's talk about your fanbase. Your devoted readers. These are the people that make you money, remember. You kind of need them to like you. When you're mean and condescending, they are less likely to like reading your stuff. Being kind makes friends. You need friends. They read your books.
It's not a hard concept. In fact, most of my favorite authors engage with "wannabe" authors in a professional, uplifting, and empathetic manner. They encourage. They give advice. They want fledgling writers to follow their dreams.
Obligatory shoutout to Neil Gaiman, John Green, and JK Rowling goes here.
Or let's talk about how to be a decent human being. Crushing people's dreams? Not decent. Talking down to them because they haven't progressed as far in your career as you have? Not decent. Treating them like lesser people because they haven't honed their talent to your level (which, by the way, you have achieved through experience and the help of experts, something they are lacking but actively trying to get)? Not decent.
Doing anything other than supporting them in their dreams?
I mean, you can totally hate what they've written. Let's be honest. There are some really bad writers out there. Some of them are even published. But there is a distinct difference between thinking the writing itself is awful and treating the writer like an awful person for even trying. If the writing is awful, tell them how to improve. Tell them what they did wrong. If they're really passionate about what they do, they'll only get better, and then they'll thank you rather than hate you.
You get me?
Long story short: Don't put people down for chasing their dreams. Not everyone will be famous. Not everyone will write the next Great American Novel. Not everyone will even pay all their rent bills this month. But are they trying? Yes? Then stop being mean to them.
Life is about progression. We get better. First-time authors will too. But they'll never get better if you terrorize them and bully them out of pursuing the very thing that gives them hope in their dreams.