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.]
Rumor has it you’re running for office!!
You said, “In fact the above paragraph about our agency will come across as braggadocios to some.” Well, not to me. Your stats encourage me that the publishing business continues, even if it’s not business as usual.
Since only rumors compelled you to share the ways God has blessed your business, I’m even glad for the rumors!
Terry? Running FROM “office” more likely. The nature of political rancor makes my memories of junior-high look like a walk in the park.
Lynnda? Thank you. That was a nice way to put it.
Rebecca Barlow Jordan
As one of your clients, I’m very glad the rumor is false.:) I wrote about this same subject in a different vein in a blog at http://www.rebeccabarlowjordan.com/when-can-silence-hurt/. Whether in business or personal life, accepting non-truths and failing to find out the truth can truly be damaging–as bad as starting the rumor in the first place. Good blog.
I think rumors spread because we want them to be true. It may be that we just want something exciting to talk about to break up our dull existance or is could be that we actually want to see the person be hurt. I remember sitting in a classroom listening to two people talking in the hall. She was voicing her concerns about how her daughter-in-law was raising her grandson, a child from a previous marriage. She was talking to a man who would be the last person I would expect to know anything about raising children. I could tell that all she wanted was for someone to agree with her that her daughter-in-law was in the wrong. Were that conversation repeated to a few people, there’s no telling what kind of monster the daughter-in-law would appear to be.
We should always celebrate our blessings. It’s sad when people misinterpret that (or warp it with their own bitterness).
Thanks for spreading some good news about the publishing world for a change. It takes a bit of bravery to confront a rumor face-to-face, but it is the only Biblical way to have right relationships. Thanks for the reminder.
Congratulations on a great start to the year!
Glad your agency is doing so well, Steve. As others have said, you’re following Biblical principles in taking on this rumor and reminding all of us, as well. Thanks.
Sandra D. Bricker
I’ve battled this sort of thing in my own career. Reading your post brought the memory of it to the surface so quickly that you might have thought it was just yesterday. I find it hard to grasp … the reasoning behind the deliciousness of spreading a rumor about someone, or judging them harshly because of a fragmented truth that doesn’t really represent them at all. I’m happy that you had the opportunity to face it head on and answer the rumor rather than what normally happens … the rumor spreading smooth (“like buttah”) without you ever knowing.
Wow…rumors are pretty horrible (and gossip). I’m glad everything is going well though! Congrats on the sales. 😉
I’m reminded of why the Bible warns against gossip and false testimony–it’s hurtful and unfortunately spreads like cancer. I’m so glad your agency is doing well. Your voice is so refreshing in the publishing industry.
I’ve always admired the gossip policy at WinePress Publishing. No gossip in any form is tolerated. Well done.
In case anyone is wondering what Jim Rubart was referring to, see the below link.
Steve, the link is not working, but I can google it. 🙂
It all comes down to treating others with the same respect we’d like to receive from them.
Preach it, Steve! So good. Such wise words. This can be a rumor-riddled industry, but that only is so if we repeat what we hear.
Great post, Steve.
It’s interesting, when Noah’s first son spotted him passed out drunk and naked, what was his instinctive response? To run and tell. Generations after him paid a price for his carnal reaction. Noah’s other sons? They backed in and covered their father’s nakedness (love covers…). Future generations through them were significantly blessed as a result. I think we have no idea the impact of our words. May God help us all to be quick to believe the best about others!
Steve, great article. There is a rumor going around town that our church is a cult because it has a human hair rug somewhere in it. I laughed so hard when I heard that, but then I heard it again and again. It stunned me how ridiculous, outlandish rumors can spread like wildfire.
What stunned me more though was how people actually believe everything they hear, or at least before seeing for themselves. LOL! I don’t know where people manage to come up with some of the stuff they think or say, well, yeah, I do. We have an accuser and he prowls around whispering lies.
I love what Mary Demuth prayed…that God would help all of us believe the best about each other. That is a perfect antidote to gossip.
Thanks for having courage to post.
Regarding the human hair rug rumor the gossipers may have heard the story retold for the umpteenth time. After being retold only a few times each retelling mutates greatly.
The story may have started out only as whispers that someone of significance in the congregation was now wearing a high class toupee.
Funny twist about that toupee!! But I am mystified. How would having a human hair rug be enough to make a church into a cult unless it’s displayed as a sacred relic and people are worshiping it in some way? And if they were, there would be a lot more signs that the congregation had strayed from the true Gospel than having the rug.
“Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down. As charcoal to embers and as wood to fire, so is a quarrelsome man for kindling strife” (Proverbs 26:20-21).
The unfortunately fact of this life is there are people with no conscience willing to stoke the fires and get everyone caught up in silly rumors. This doesn’t apply to everyone who repeats the rumor, of course, only to those who maliciously start it and keep it going.
l am so happy that you set that straight. l am happy that things are going so well.
This post hit home with me. Months ago I had coffee with an old friend I hadn’t seen since high school. Things were going great. We were giving God glory for all He’d been doing in our lives for the past 20+ years. But it changed and got ugly when she decided to tell me all the rumors and gossip…about me!
It seems I graduated from high school and became a serious drug addict in a city not far from our little town. Funny, I told her, I went to college to pursue writing and never did any drugs.
But it wasn’t funny. It hurt and still hurts. I blogged about it (https://trainingforeternityblog.wordpress.com/2017/03/09/picking-up-arrows/) because I never saw it coming from an “old friend” who was now a “Christian.”
Steve, you wrote, “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.”
And I say, “Amen” to that! Thank you and as always, God bless you.
Our pastor’s message at church yesterday was about Loving With Our Words, and he spoke a bit about gossip. He used a definition of the word which has totally made me take a harder look at everything I say. “Gossip is talking about something when I’m part of neither the problem nor the solution.” Wowsers! Thanks for this post, Steve. Just imagine if we all cracked down on our own gossip, and used that definition as our litmus test.
I’ve been fighting a rumor since July. Some lady in our community bought a “winning” lottery ticket which grossed her $1,000,000.00. I’ve had phone calls from two states away “congratulating” me. However, sad to say, this rumor is NOT true.
I’ve considered taking out a newspaper ad addressed to the winner, congratulating her on maintaining her anonymity and requesting an agent’s fee of ten percent.
My Papa used to stop rumor at it’s root by saying to the person trying to tell him of something “Is this an action you were party to?” Generally this was met by a stutter which lapsed into silence.
Love your father’s response, Judith. Oh, if that rumor really is true, I’m an orphan and available for adoption.
Rumors can lead to destruction. Let’s show God’s love to each other and forget about rumors. 🙂
Rumours do have their uses; they are far more effective than deliberate disinformation, because those who spread them have something of a vested interest.
The Nazis tied up a lot of their strength in France at the Pas de Calais after D-ay, because of the information that they gleaned through rumour that George patton would lead the main landing there, and that Normandy was a feint.
They want to believe this; validation of their preconceptions was vital to them, and it destroyed any chance they may have had for blunting the invasion.
Well this just confirms the rumor that you are strictly opposed to rumors. Ha. But in all seriousness, we must be so careful with our words. The grapevine all too readily consumes and spits back out thoughtless and imprudent comments. It is true in the small world of Christian publishing, as you said, and true in my small church and small community as well. Let us be speakers of truth!
One of my less-than-favorite managers told us if you start a rumor through three different people, you can make it become true. Sometimes he was right.
Gossip can do irreparable harm even when it’s true. My mother had a saying worth remembering, “Lord, make my words soft and sweet today, for tomorrow I may have to eat them.
I can’t tell you the number of vicious untrue rumors I’ve encountered in my nearly two decades in this industry — rumors like those you’ve crashed into that have stunned me as to how someone could not only think it but say it. I’ve categorized them as purposeful with strategic intent because it’s the only way I could come to grips with outrageous lies that seemed to be intentionally broadcast.
It’s sort of like the group prayers you hear that slap people in the face with a “bless your heart.”
Linda Riggs Mayfield
Wise reminder, Steve. I want to be known as a truth-teller. It amazes me how many fine Christians who would never intentionally tell a lie in their daily lives re-post “news” on social media without checking its veracity in any way. I feel compelled to gently and kindly Comment that a conflicting opinion exists, with links to the truth. One friend replied something like, “Good to know. I didn’t check to see if it was true or not because I knew you would.” That’ a responsibility I did not seek. Trying to keep friendships and build a platform has unexpected challenges!
Carol wrote, “My mother had a saying worth remembering, ‘Lord, make my words soft and sweet today, for tomorrow I may have to eat them.'” That sounds like one of those great takeaways from the Andy Griffith show! Fabulous. Thanks!
Victor wrote,“Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down. As charcoal to embers and as wood to fire, so is a quarrelsome man for kindling strife” (Proverbs 26:20-21).
That explains the motive behind all sorts of fake news, doesn’t it? Thanks for the verse!
carol nicolet loewen
A wise and compassionate response Steve. Well said.
Steve, Thanks for the reminder. The HGTV Gaines have been bombarded with a bunch of untrue “truths” this year. Maybe partly because they’re Christians? I don’t know, but when I hear a rumor, I try to find out who told the person that told me. Nine times out of ten, that person had said something entirely different. My motto is don’t pass it on, whether it’s true of not, then you can’t be accused of gossip. Anyway, again thanks.
I so appreciate this post. I must admit I have become jaded and cynical and find it difficult to believe much of what I see and hear on the news and social media sites. And that makes me sad. I especially love how your post ended – “Celebrate each others victories and pray for each others miseries. We all have both. But rumors and gossip have no place in either.”
Yes, we do all have both victories and miseries. God, help us to treat and respect and love others as we would want to be.
Thank you for bringing up this topic, as this has been one I’ve been trying to head off in the last few months. It’s funny when you mention in a roundabout way that you’re conferring with agents (who remain nameless because heavens forbid you get the cart before the horse in preliminary stages), folks jump into action by recommending this agent because of a good reputation, or discouraging you from this agent due to their lack of truly helping the author; when in reality, the agents folks are slamming are perfectly fine and upstanding in the publishing industry.
I can understand if personalty conflicts and feelings get in the way, causing the unfortunate clashes and back-lashing. It does happen. But please, there’s no need to discourage an author just starting out.
As a writer as well as an editor, it saddens me the dearth of kindness sometimes. Oh that’s right—we’re human and sometimes humans forget. Alrighty then, I’ll keep a stiff upper lip and continue to put a good, judicially kind foot forward as I continue this dual journey.
I am shocked and amazed to believe anyone would either spread or believe such ridiculous rumors! Proves even the best are subject to adversity. Thank you for sharing your great wisdom through these blogs!