Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Mind Games

In comments yesterday, Jaye mentioned professionalism and mind games.

Professionalism is a state, a style, which, I assume, we all attempt in our writing, our presentations, our approaches, our reactions, our attitudes, and is a condition, a posture, we strive to attain.

The mind games comment, though, had me scratching my head.
Is a mind game the same as a dirty trick? A back-stabbing? Or just crafty manipulation?

I tried to think of examples of mind games I may have observed in the writer-blogger world. Didn't come up with much, but that doesn't mean anything.

Have seen serious suckage posted on agent's blogs on occasion. Not that all such effusive compliments are insincere - they are not - but I wondered if such would really qualify.
Have seen people attempt to hi-jack other's blogs to puff themselves ( and no, I absolutely do not mean anyone who posts here) which might qualify as a manipulation.
A recent mention of sock puppets on Miss Snark's blog made me wonder too, if that would constitute a mind game.
Sock puppet syndrome, apparently, is posting anonymously on one's own blog to generate attention and traffic, Punch and Judy style.
I have to ask..."fer what?"
Is there a competition, a status involved in blog land? Blog "X" got more hits/comments than blog "Y"...nyah, nyah? Are such trying to be writers or bloggers?
I know that I for one am veryveryvery happy that some of the visitors/searchers who flit past my blog keep on flitting.
You know the kind I mean. Yes. Those.
(Daisy has some priceless examples up on her blog.)
I suppose sock puppetry is a type of mind game.

But are these really mind games, or merely examples of obnoxious/desperate/insecure personalities? The same sort we might meet at parties/conferences/the office/anywhere?
Help me out here, please. Can you describe a mind game you've seen in action in the writer-blogger world?
Forewarned, etc.

Beaming-like-the-Morning-Sun-Department: My short fiction piece Ornamental is up at Wild Child Publishing.


Scott said...

I'll be curious to see the replies to this post. I guess I can see why someone would want to post replies to their own posts, especially one with no visitors. There is truth in the assertion that when a post gets thirty plus replies, it looks automatically interesting to read. For me though, there is no actual value to appearing popular.

M.E Ellis said...

I read the sock puppet post too. Immediately thought, 'WHAT? People do that?' After reading and thinking about it, I suppose I can see why some do. Weirdness.

Yay on your story!


Sela Carsen said...

I missed the sock puppet post (I'll go read that now), but I read your short story! Great work! Loved the twist in the tail!

It's true that blogs that don't generate a lot of comments get less frequent visits from me. I don't think I've ever generated 30 repsonses on anything! Even with my own replies included!

Bernita said...

I always read the post before I even look at the number of responses, Scott, and make up my own mind.

Thank YOU, Michelle!
it never occured to me that people would do that either.

Sela, thank you. Glad you liked it.
I never go by the number of comments. Don't understand that gauge. Besides, perhaps it was just posted.

Erik Ivan James said...

First, my heart-felt congratulations on your Ornamental at Wild Child! Outstanding piece of work.

Mind games mean to me that one person is commmunicating, in one form or another, to one or more people, for the sole purpose of benefiting the communicators personal agenda (whew). I've seen what I believe to be that on the blogs but will refrain from name mention.

On my blog I write for me and the writing practice. For me, it is good practice to write in a public forum instead of just in my "room". Sure, I would enjoy, and appreciate, lots of traffic and comments, but that is not my purpose or my expectation. If one expects traffic on their own, they must travel to visit the blogs of others. I don't make much effort in that regard anymore.

Good post, Bernita.

Jaye Wells said...

Bernita, great news! Congrats.

Guess I should explain what I was talking about. It dealt with the issue of agent exclusives. I won't go into details, but someone said something to the effect of "Let her think she has an exclusive. I always say when agents give us exclusives, we'll give them exclusives."

IMO, this is a very bad idea. It will bite you in the ass every time. I prefer the direct approach. If you can't or won't do an exclusive, politely inform the agent and see what you can work out. They might just want to see it anyway.

I'm no fan of exclusives, but they are a fact of life. Mind games and indignant artist mode aren't smart business.

I was surprised by the sock puppet issue, too.

kmfrontain said...

I get anonymous posts all the time about my Soulstone series. Some of my readers don't seem to want to fess up as to who they are. They post good things, and bad things. And I have to live with it, because some won't post if I set my blog to "no anonymous posts".

I'm thinking now: what if someone thinks I'm socking a puppet, or whatever it is. There's a mindgame for you. Now everyone with anonymous posts, that learns of pupping sockets, is going to be worried that someone will think they're pocking suckets.

Yes, I know. I'm being silly again this morning. But think of the witch hunt fodder. How to blacken a blog? Accuse a person of sucking pockets.

kmfrontain said...

oh. I'm off to read Ornamental now.

Dave said...

I've been online since 1994 and sock puppets are merely another form of lies.
My friends and I joke about personal ads as "twenty-five and just out of the armed forces" is good for 20 years if you take the picture from the right angle.

Sock puppets are a sign of an equally immature person. Don't read that as young since so many younger people are really honest and open online. They put everything out there and say "accept me as I am"...

One the other side, there is a mentality out there that says to themselves if they write the most words or get the last word, they win.

kmfrontain said...

OMG! It's that story! I'm so glad you published that. It's so evil cute (and you know I love evil cute). :D Good one, Bernita.

December Quinn said...

Can't think offhand of any new or original mindgames I've seen online lately, but I will 'fess up to being tempted to post an anonymous reply on my own blog once.

Once. Just to express something I could not express as myself. I wanted to reinforce a certain lack of enthusiasm about something in more direct terms.

I didn't do it. But guess which post it was?

I do pay attention to comment counts, though. I was way excited that day I got over 30. My numbers have been dropping lately, which tells me my posts haven't been interesting enough and I need to get back to ranting if I don't want everyone to disappear.

Ric said...

Morning all,
Bernita is out there in print - lovely story - I liked it the first time - you don't collect frogs, do you?

Sock puppets are a way to make it appear you have defenders. Blogs are so open, if you say something stupid - someone will call you on it. Those immature (as Dave said) and insecure folks want to have the last word so they defend themselves in the comments.

Works kinda like political pundits sitting around a table screaming at each other. The deceit comes in by intimating there are lots of commenters who agree with you - when this might not be the case.

Mind Games - it seems to me - would be attaching a note to your partial that says, "You should know that Binky Urban requested this yesterday." As if that will get it read faster.

Might work, but then, as Miss Snark pointed out, you don't know that the agent in question isn't having lunch with Binky.

Anything to make you stand out from the slush by sneakily convincing the agent she should read yours first.

sorry this was so long.

MissWrite said...

Hey, Bernita, I hope you saw my late night comment on yesterday's post about your story... totally wicked girl. Loved it.

As for the professionalism, it extends way beyond the simple act of writing in a professional manner. It encompasses the way you comport yourself amongst your peers in daily life as well.

That's also where the thin and wavery line of mind-games can begin as well. Sometimes it's not really intentional on the part of those playing them. Making oneself more imporant than is reality. Making a book appear to be 'more' than it is. I remember one such author who was a 'best seller' at her company--lets just say that it didn't take a whole heck of a lot to become a best seller there. Announcing herself on websites, newsreleases, and anywhere else she could, as 'best selling author-soandso'. To some it may appear that she was, she didn't say if it were best seller on the NYT list, or bumpkin county publisher... get it? LOL

While that may not be particularly innocent, it is more so than some of the outright devious things both individuals and 'companies' can sometimes play to vie for a more reputable place in the market than they deserve.

kmfrontain said...

But now we're in the field getting into the field of PR, Tami, when we speak of placing a product in the most advantageous light. PR has always been mind games. PR is what made cigarette smoking seem good, and cocaine in coca cola an asset, until the public caught on. It's the catching on that dooms the product. ;-)

No way PR is ever going to "not" be a mind game. Best we can do is try and push products that live up. :D

I'm thinking of new release print books by big outfits. What do they do with first editions? I don't think they out and out lie about best sellerdom, but they position the book at the front of the store using pay offs to the store owners, and they also put ARC reviews on the back covers, or inside the front, and then kinda pretend the new release is already well read. Just this positioning guarantees some sales. Most readers don't know this. It's all PR.

MissWrite said...

You're right, KM, but still there is a fine line between PR and twisted propaganda. No doubt it is a shady area. LOL But most mind-games are just that.

In fact, everything mentioned in the area of mind-games, both in the initial post here, and in the comments concern 'PR' of one type or another. Personal 'pr' is just as vital to an author as 'book pr'.

After all, it's 'name branding' that makes a successful author, is it not? So twisting facts in your personal favor is nothing more than personal PR. How straight up you play the game, however, I think makes a very big difference overall in your career.

Someday, someone is going to find out that 'best seller' meant you sold one book during the fiscal year of 1962 (LOL okay, exagerating, but you know what I mean) at some be-bop publisher, not that you hit a national best seller list. It may be a matter of symantics, but on the other hand, I think those that find out may well feel disillusioned by the wool of the mind-game.

Flood said...

When SomeoneA quotes SomeoneB out of context on SomeoneA's blog for the sole purpose of creating a flame war. I've seen this a lot in other communities, and it often leaves SomeoneB on the defensive and looking petty when they try to clear misconceptions.

Congrats again on Ornamental!

Rick said...

I suppose the one para-justification for sock puppetry would be to build traffic for a new blog. But it still has a rather pathetic feel to it, like buying hundreds of copies of your own book to goose its Amazon rating.

The sock puppet thing, though, has led to some heavy breathing about pseuds or handles in general, which seems misplaced. Invented screen names have been around as long as I've been online, and in many online communities are simply part of the local culture.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Erik.
I think just knowing it is a public forum helps concentrate one's attention on editing a piece.

Jaye, thank you, and thank you for explaining. I wasn't sure if it was a blog thing or an industry issue.
And I agree, straightforward is best. Why complicate the process more than it already is?

December, don't obsess. People may be away on holidays, have deadlines, all sorts of things.
There are many blogs I visit, for example, and don't always leave a comment - either because I can't think of anything to say or someone else has said it much better.

Karen, that is an absolute hoot!
Thank you! Reading it over at WC, it struck me as having a bit "infante terrible" tone - which is not altogether a bad thing.

Dave, it seems like such a petty and total waste of time, and for what real benefit?

Ric, there are no length limits here.
Thank you.
And yes, I do collect them - or rather, family and friends wish them on me, by the gross.
Not sure the Urban thing is really a mind game, more of a pathetic fallacy...

Bernita said...

Thank you, Tami. I did and appreciate it. Much.
Thank you for extending the topic.
There's a careful selection of the facts and then there's bullshit.

Thank you, Flood.
That sort of this is just deliberate sabotage, just so the perpetrator can lean back and smile.

Pathetic is a good word, Rick, there are more honest ways to build traffic.
Nothing wrong with pseudonyms, many good reasons for them.

Bonnie Calhoun said...

"...serious suckage..." Girlfriend, i love that line...I must abscond with that!

I've seen the hijackings on other blogs, and I just roll my eyes. When a comment goes on so long that you actually have to scroll to read the end, I consider that a hijack!

I can usually spot the "sock puppet" stuff! When there are more anons than people and the subject matter isn't risque, you can pretty much bet that its the bloggers own doing.

Must qualify that...other than on Miss Snark's, because I understand why a lot of those peop's would want to be anons...most are probably high profile!

Uh, uh-o...did you have toscroll to read the end of this...*yikes*

MissWrite said...

Wow, I guess I am WAY guilty of hi-jacking then...on a regular basis. I never mean to.

Bernita said...

Feel free, Bonnie!
I may have picked it up from somewhere myself.

Hi-jacking to me is posting with the sole intent of re-routing traffic to one's own blog. Those types never comment on the topic, they just preen themselves.
In acting terms, they are devoted to up-staging.

Tami, you DO NOT hi-jack.
I consider longer posts a compliment!
~aims a cuff at Bonnie~
Means the topic has engaged the poster's imagination.
I appreciate the thought and care that goes into a longer post.
Geesus! Who wants to read a series of "LOL"?

M.E Ellis said...

LMFAO @ KM and her sucking fuppets.


EA Monroe said...

I read Ornamental and enjoyed it -- a lot. Remind me never to show up at your house without calling first, or risk becoming another frog in the collection! ;-) Keep up the good work, Bernita!

I reside out in the boondocks of blogger-land, so I haven't seen too many sock puppets (have seen them in other people's comments). I did see a sock puppet hanging out a guy's pickup truck window yesterday. It was a small dog.

Gotta get back to chipping stone.

Bernita said...

So glad you liked it, EA!
You're welcome to drop long as you don't come with evil intent...

Gabriele C. said...

So I finally figured out what exactly a sock puppet is. I've come across the word quite frequently recently (how's that for adverbial chains, lol) and knew it was something a nitwit would do and thus never bothered to check for the exact meaning. I don't deal with nitwits. :)

Will read your story tomorrow; I just came back from a visit to the Canossa exhibition in Paderborn and I'm very tired. But it was interesting.

PBW said...

I'm not a fan of anonymous bloggers, and lost my temper with one who was giving out misinformation about published authors paying outside editors to get published. This ended up as a nasty exchange in the comments section of Vanessa Jaye's blog (for which I apologized to Vanessa in comments that same day, because I was wrong to deal with the ninny there.) That the blogger threatened to hurt me professionally because I disagreed with her seemed like one of those mind games these cowards play.

I get a lot of anonymous commenters, but I understand some folks would rather not be seen there. :) The anons at my place usually post career-sensitive or what they consider "dumb" questions and don't cause trouble. A disgruntled soul will drop in now and then to give me a hard time or try to start a flame war, but everyone ignores them and they scurry back into their rat hole.

I make sure I put a sig on anything I post in someone else's blog comments, even if the security thing won't let me enter a link or identity the way Blogger does. If you're going to write it, you should sign it.

Cynthia Bronco said...

I saw that sock puppet post, and thought it was pretty funny that anyone would accuse Miss Snark of that... as if she doesn't get enough weirdness without trying!

Cynthia Bronco said...

Ric: "Blogs are so open, if you say something stupid - someone will call you on it."

Luckily any stupidity on my part has so far gone unnoticed!

Dakota Knight said...

Hey, Bernita! Congrats on Ornamental! I plan on reading it after I leave my comment.

As far as examples of mind games, I heard about authors leaving bad Amazon reviews about other author's books using fake names. I also read this message board and the moderator called out a person with their computer ID for posting a lot of comments using different names(this person even went so far as to argue with himself).

Patry Francis said...

I was so desperate for comments when my blog was new that I was tempted to try on a sock puppet--but then I realized no one was around to read my fake comments anyway!

Congrats on your story!

Marcail said...

I'd say a mind game is the same as messing with someone's head to get an upper hand or to ridicule. Or, a situation that gives one an mentally overwhelming and disorientating experience.
The aim of playing a mind game is to mentally confuse and overwhelm.

It's not a nice game to play with another.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Bernita said...

It's a very visual phrase, is it not, Gabriele?

One can well understand your reaction, PBW, one feels an outright lie or a damaging rumour should be confronted in situ.
Usually, it's obvious from the posts which people choose "anonymous" because of career issues. One sees them frequently on agent's blogs.
I have been surprised by the relative absence of the traditional internet troll, though.

Thank you, Dakota. Have seen mention of that sort of dirty trick - smacks of sheer spite or plain desperation to my mind.

Struck me as a ridiculous charge too, Cynthia. The very claim is a QED that she doesn't have to. People have been polite to me too!

Thank you, Patry. You don't seem to lack commentors now!

I agree, Marcail, think those mind games denote a basic and profound contempt for other people.

Gabriele C. said...

Lol, and last thing I did last night before I went to sleep was to ban a sock puppet from a forum I co-administrate. Together with the puppeteer.

And today I got angry emails by both of them. *grin*

I categorised their mails as spam. Mwuhaha

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