Communication

Rumor Control

It can be surprising the amount of incorrect information that gets passed around the author community.

Recently we were told, with certainty, that a particular publisher was dropping one of their categories of fiction. We went directly to the editor in charge of that category and were told “No. That isn’t true. We are still looking at proposals!”

A few months ago an editor told me of their surprise to find out that writers were creating new proposals for a new line of books her publisher was going to publish. The problem is there was no new line at all.

A few years ago an editor asked me, “How are things going? I hear that your agency is barely making ends meet and that you’ve had to take on other type of work to survive.”

I must admit that I was so startled by this rumor that words nearly failed me.

“Where did you hear that?” I exclaimed.

“Oh it was at a recent writers conference and folks were talking, and your name came up.”

At the risk of sounding defensive, let me set the record straight. The Steve Laube Agency is alive and well and is not having to scramble to survive. We are blessed to continually average a new book deal every two business days.

Which brings me to the larger issue about rumors. After questioning that editor a little further it became evident that they had either misheard or misunderstood what was said. I am grateful that the editor asked me directly or I would never have known what was being said. Please don’t think that what I write next is directed at this person. Instead I’m addressing the issue of rumors and gossip in general.

Why is it that some people tend to believe gossip over actual truth? And then why do they spread the “news” to others without verifying the facts? These rumors can take a tragic turn. I know a friend whose career was nearly derailed by a nasty and untrue rumor. It took that person years to recover their reputation.

Social media and the various loops and online groups make it so easy to turn an innocent question into a fact. It has been said, “Some bring oxygen and others expel CO2.”

The publishing community is a small one. And the Christian publishing industry is even smaller. I try, albeit imperfectly, to verify a rumor before ever repeating it. This is the right thing to do. Stop gossip before it starts. It may be that we “like” to hear bad news (why do we slow down to look at the accident on the freeway?). And good news sounds like bragging. In fact the above comment about our agency may come across as braggadocios to some.

Let us endeavor to keep our own counsel. And undergird all matters with a Christ-like spirit. Celebrate each others victories and pray for each others miseries. We all have both. But rumors and gossip have no place in either.

 

[A version of this post was originally published in April 2010.]

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