What kind of reputation do you want?

Mandy Hale

About a month ago I went to a message board and started a topic. The board belongs to a novel and short story site where one can add their work for critique. It’s also a great place to learn the craft of editing.

I rarely reply or start a topic. Not that I don’t want to, it’s simply a matter of time. Not enough hours in the day as they say. But in this particular moment I saw something missing.

A simple little thing that I felt needed to be filled.


Walking the tightrope of etiquette

My topic was all about giving thanks to others. A simple thank you when others critique your work. And another thank you if they felt your critique helped theirs.

I’m big on acknowledging a person’s good work or act of kindness and I’m not alone on this. For the most part we all think the same. Don’t believe the news you hear on the state of the world. People are generally kind and helpful.

Yes, I’m talking to you.

I didn’t think too much when I created the post. We’re all at fault for expecting things and sometimes we need to take a step back and realize how good we have it.  

By the end of the day my topic hit the twelve page mark with each page containing at least a dozen replies. The results you might be thinking were positive, sadly they were not.

reputation 1

Sorry I drowned your puppy

After reading just a few replies one would have thought I had called their mother wicked names or worse…an offering to drown their puppy.

Most of them accused me of stepping over the line. To them I had walked into something far more personal than needed to be. After a few replies defending myself I stepped away. I’m pretty sure my days of creating topics on that board are over.

One of the first lessons I learned in our world of writing is proper etiquette. A simple thanks or a like on a page goes a long way. 

We have chosen a profession where reputation matters. Going an extra mile or two does wonders for us all.

I’m a friendly person by nature. I was taught to give everyone a chance and to be nice. Not everyone appreciates the kindness but most do.

Creating a positive reputation is gold. The last thing I want is for anyone to think of me as high maintenance or demanding.

I have received a handful of rejections from agents and publishers in my days and I have replied to all of them with a thank you. I am not thanking them for turning my work away, I am thinking them for their time.

It’s the professional thing to do.

I’m not sure why I upset so many people. Maybe it was the guilt in them coming out. Whatever it was we need to pack the negative remarks in a box and open up a can of the good stuff. It’s all about the long term. Every now and then ask yourself a question:

What kind of reputation do you want?



20 thoughts on “What kind of reputation do you want?

  1. People seriously got upset because you talked about thanking someone for a critique? What sad lives they must have if they don’t think that should be an automatic courtesy. I’ve also always replied to rejections with a thank you for your time and consideration, and thanked beta readers even if their feedback has been upsetting or unhelpful. It’s just what you do as a writer and as a decent human being. Great post, Bryan. Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. It’s 10 in the morning my time and your post is the kind of positivity one needs at the beginning of the day.
    Chivalry is not dead and neither is courtesy. The amount of encouragement and support that I got from complete strangers when I joined the blogging world is evidence of this.

    That board where you got the negative comments is probably just a small pool of negativity full of tadpoles.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I no longer much care for forums. Even the best moderated ones have too many angry jerks on them willing to tear into people for no better reason than gratuitous outrage. I prefer blogs now. You can ban the jerks on blogs.

    Good post.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hey Paul. I’m leaning that way to. It just takes a few and the conversation on forums can turn in a second.

    I am on Twitter. I’m not sure that counts as a forum but I am careful with the topics I bring up or reply to and the only people I follow are writers. They are a fun group and I’ve never had a problem or seen one.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. It’s interesting a post about being polite got such a negative response! I suspect you may be right that those who were negative were dealing with some sort of guilt. It’s hard to step back and take stock, honestly, but we all need to be better at doing it.


  6. That’s really disappointing that you tried to create a positive vibe and so many poisoned it. I try to be conscientious and thank those who help me out however they do. I do admit I haven’t sent many thank yous for rejections (then again, they were 99% form rejections), but it’s a good idea, I think. And yes, there is a lot of kindness and generosity in the world, despite what we continue to see in the news. Have a great weekend!


  7. That is so crazy that people would get up in arms over a discussion about thanking. I think you’re right, there is probably some guilt there that they felt the need to deflect rather than acknowledge.

    I have found groups and message boards can be strange places. I was once on a group where a gentleman made a comment to the original poster. Everyone tore him apart for what they had perceived was an insult. He came back, explained his meaning was not what people had thought it meant. A simple misunderstanding.

    People continued to vilify him stating THEY thought he meant something else. In the end I had to go on and point out they had made an assumption, it was wrong, he had cleared up the mistake and they were still lashing out. Why?

    Let’s just say I left that board soon after. Apparently my questioning their response was tantamount to treason.

    However, your point about thanks is so important. In a world were people can become very tied up with their own thoughts and actions, we do need to step back from our “busy” and acknowledge those who help, support, encourage etc

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Sometimes I’ll make a mistake and take a persons good intention for granted. But that’s rare and I think most of us fall into that category. You are right about message boards. It can be a hot bed of trouble. All it takes is one and in a micro second we have World War III.


  9. It’s a sad fact that some people are out to tear others apart. I believe in being kind, grateful and keeping things light and airy. To keep our brands clean it’s best to back away from awkward discussions, even when it was unintended. Sorry you had such a rubbish experience.


  10. We will always have that type of person who looks down on others no matter what they do. They are also the type who are unhappy most of the time. Life is way to short for that kind of stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

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