Writerly Wednesday – How To Respond

When you’re in this business, you will have contact with industry professionals in some way, on a regular basis: Agents if you’re querying, editors as you try to sell and then once you do through edits and revisions, marketing people at the publisher, booksellers, bloggers, reviewers, readers and other authors (this isn’t a complete list!)

Not every contact will be positive.

Sometimes you get rejected. Sometimes you have to do revisions. Sometimes they might have been unhappy with something you were supposed to do. Sometimes they hate your book, or you, or your way of talking or whatever.

The point is, not every contact with an industry professional will make you happy. The more important point is, how you deal with said contact is key to your overall success and longevity in this business.

For example: I’ve heard agents and editors talk about the sort of responses they get when they reject manuscripts. There is nothing to be gained by sending an agent a return note that says ANYTHING but THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME. Period. You do not write back to complain about their response time, about how they suck and are stupid for not recognizing your brilliance. You don’t send them profanity laden missives. You either shut up and lick your wounds or thank them and lick your wounds.

From my first day in this business, other authors have reached out to me, provided a wealth of support and information. This is a community. So many times it’s your fellow authors who will help you out, keep you in mind when they hear a publishing call. This business is hard sometimes, you need people who are walking the same walk you are. No one is going to understand like another author.

I’ve seen authors spoken of in incredibly derogatory terms in public on blogs by other authors. Sometimes the issue is a very important one and a heated debate ensues and so toes get stepped on – which is a different animal. But what I’m talking about are the authors who get online and consistently jump on any post attacking an author or a book. While readers are certainly within their rights to do so, when I see an author at a blog talk smack about another author for no other reason than glee, I lose all respect for that author. Because it’s not necessary to say, “oh author B should have stayed at publisher B, she totally sucks now” It isn’t. That’s not critique and you’re not there as a reader, you’re there as an author. That’s not to say you can’t be critical of a book – but what I commented on above is not critique of a book and unless you wrote the best damned book on earth, that sort of thing will come back to bite you in the ass. Also, just understand now that readers and authors have different sets of rules – that’s life.

Certainly you won’t like everyone you deal with. You won’t like all the books you read. You will read books and think, “what the heck? I’m better than this junk! How did this get published!” You’ll see an author online acting stupid, or at a conference so drunk she can’t stand – every year. And so what? What will you gain by sending an email to that author about her book, or commenting online about that author? What is the purpose of the comment?

This is a very small industry, despite how large it can feel sometimes. If you send agent A a nastygram about your very special snowflake words and how dare they reject you so F off – don’t assume Agent A and Agent M aren’t friends and don’t talk. They do. Editors talk to each other and to agents. Authors talk to their agents and editors and to each other. What on earth do you want them to say about you? “Hey wow, did you get that letter from mary sue crazpants? What a nutbar!”

This is a profession. You are not so special you can simply toss off a nasty note to an editor who rejects you, or talk about it on a blog, blaming that editor for not seeing your brilliance – and expect anything positive to come from it. This is a community. You don’t have to like every part of it, you don’t have to take any crap from people either, but how you handle yourself, how you respond is as important as your writing. There are a hundred other writers happy to take any space you leave at an agency or publisher with your bad behavior. Personal relationships are important in publishing just like many other professions.

Be a professional. Do your bitching behind closed doors, lick your wounds and move on.

11 comments to “Writerly Wednesday – How To Respond”

  1. mMm
    November 4th, 2009 at 9:52 am · Link

    I am totally BFF with Agent A.

  2. Karen Erickson
    November 4th, 2009 at 9:56 am · Link

    I love your Writerly Wednesdays. You speak the truth and I appreciate it! :mrgreen:

  3. Taige Crenshaw
    November 4th, 2009 at 11:09 am · Link

    Very eloquent and insightful as always. Thanks for sharing your wisdom.

  4. Mary G
    November 4th, 2009 at 12:01 pm · Link

    Even as just a reader I can appreciate what you say. BTW Kristie J of Ramblings On Romance blog has a wonderful review of Undercover & there are a lot of nice comments. Love when new people get hooked on your writing just like me.

  5. Eliza
    November 4th, 2009 at 1:12 pm · Link

    This is the kind of advice that sometimes needs to be repeated over and over.

    Despite the best of intentions, emails are easily misinterpreted and can quickly turn bad. 😳

  6. Laura K
    November 4th, 2009 at 8:01 pm · Link

    Amen, sister

  7. Christine
    November 5th, 2009 at 7:24 am · Link

    Hey you never knows who knows who. You have to be an adult and turn the other cheek. Do your bitching to your friends.

  8. Jaci Burton
    November 5th, 2009 at 2:23 pm · Link

    Word with a capital W.

  9. Zora Stout
    November 5th, 2009 at 7:45 pm · Link

    *cough* Eliza and I seem to be in the same boat. Sending emails are beginning to stress me out because I worry how it’ll be viewed on the other end.

    I, too, enjoy and appreciate your Writer Wednesdays. Thanks for sharing such great information!

  10. Carol Silvis
    November 6th, 2009 at 8:03 am · Link

    Great advice–never burn bridges. It truly is a small world and with so much networking going on, one should never be unprofessional.

  11. Ann
    November 12th, 2009 at 9:30 pm · Link

    Author B is a totally awesome person, and needs to go to RT next year so we can all go out to dinner again. Just sayin’. 😎