More Than Professionalism

Yesterday, twitter was abuzz because a prominent author of erotica made some harsh comments about reviewers of her books. There wasn’t much of a debate, since pretty much everyone, including her, agreed it was the wrong thing to do. It’s unprofessional, twitter said.

I woke up this morning to a blog post about author professionalism that talked about a lot more than that comment (in fact, I don’t recall if that was mentioned at all really). One of the things it said was that calling yourself a writer of smut was unprofessional. The line stuck with me because I contribute to a group blog called Smut Writers. Unsurprisingly, I disagree with her statement. The fact that my work is considered offensive and profane by many people is simply a fact. It helps define me as an author whether I acknowledge it or not, and I choose to embrace that fact.

Both of these things, the reviewer name-calling and the terminology “smut”, are called unprofessional. But the first one was cruel, and the second one not, so to me they are very different.

This thing I do here, writing and publishing, is more than a hobby to me. It matters to me deeply. It also pays my bills. I think it’s important to behave professionally, but context matters. As a politician, it would be unprofessional to make an anal sex pun to my constituents. For an erotica author, it’s par for the course. Should it be? I don’t know for sure, but if my readers are happy and I’m happy, I suppose that’s all I can do. Actually, there’s one more thing I can do, and that is to be kind. It’s not something I’ll do as part of being an author or branding or marketing. There’s inherent value in kindness. I think that is a far more potent and worthwhile promise than professionalism. I’ll do both though we may not always agree on whether my actions are professional. But if you see me being mean, I hope you’ll tell me so.