By: Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Author, Editor, and Publisher | A five-minute read
This should seem obvious. Professionals doing business show respect. This is from both sides of the table. So many times I see evidence of disrespect. Sometimes overt, sometimes subtle and unrealized.
If you wish to be taken seriously as an author or publishing professional always remain respectful.
Guidelines Exist for a Reason
One of the biggest ways I feel disrespected as a professional is when I receive an unprofessional manuscript. This can take many forms, from non-standard formatting to missing information. Take the time to check a publisher’s website for submission guidelines. How they want things sent, which information they want included, and how they would like it to appear on the page. There are reasons for all of these. You may not know or understand, but respect they serve a purpose.
What? You say there were no guidelines? Fair enough, but standard guidelines do exist. Look for them. It shows that you care enough to be professional.
Something I see quite often, which is my personal pet peeve, is when an author sends in a manuscript without the basic information at the top of the page. Maybe they have left off their address, maybe they have left off their name, maybe all of that. There have been times when they have even left off the title of the work. There are several problems with this. First, even if you have provided the missing information in your communication, the person receiving the file may not have access to the original file. What does that mean for you? Unless they are extremely forgiving, it means you have blown your chance. Most publishing professionals don’t have the time or inclination to track down missing information and if they don’t know who to send a contract to or where to send it, you’re never getting to the stage where they don’t know where to send the check.
For me, every manuscript I send out has the basic information, even when I am sending it to someone I know. Heck, even manuscripts I am writing for myself include the basic information. Not only is it a matter of professionalism and not forming bad habits, but who is to say the story won’t be sent to someone else at a future date? Including legal name, address, email, story title, and penname on your manuscripts shows you respect the person receiving it and do not want to make their take more difficult by forcing them to request or track down the missing information…or too easy, should they simply decide to reject the piece without reading it.
What You Say and How You Say It
Communication is an important part of respect. Both in your choice of words and the effort you take to use them. Even more so is knowing when not to say a thing. Of highest importance, however, is tone. I know from experience, as an author, editor, and publisher, how difficult it can be to show restraint as well as how important it is.
As authors you should always be aware of your words and the impact they have. Whether you are sending in a query or responding to feedback, your comments reflect on you more than they reflect on the other person in the conversation.
Queries – be confident, but not arrogant. Always thank the person you are submitting to for their time and express that you are open to feedback. These tell the person receiving the query that you are professional.
Feedback – If the feedback is private, such as editorial, be respectful. Do not challenge, even if you do not agree. This does not mean you are obligated to accept the feedback, but discuss the elements in question and explain your disagreement. This is a matter where tone is of utmost importance. Editors invest hours of time and effort to help authors polish their work. You may not agree with everything said, but find a way to address the issues pointed out to you, rather than question their need to begin with. Most editors are open to discussion and will not push a point unless it is major. You always have the option to withdraw, but if you wish to work in the industry it is not wise to be arrogant or combative. At the least you will have blacklisted yourself with that editor or publishing house; at the worst, you will have blacklisted yourself with anyone that editor knows, should they share their experience.
If the feedback is public, such as a negative review or blog, be silent. There is little to nothing you can say in response to such things that will not reflect more poorly on yourself as a public figure than the original feedback by itself. Responding to such things can so easily escalate and become even more visible than if you left it alone.
Public forums – Whether online or in person, you may have occasion to interact with your fan base or potential fan base. Never forget that you are a public figure, a celebrity to those who aspire to what you have achieved. Fans and potential fans deserve respect from you just as much as editors and publishing professionals do. They are the ones to lift you to whatever level of success you achieve. Connect with your fans and you have loyalty beyond imagine; disrespect them and they will let the world know.
When you are a public figure of any kind, there is no such thing as private. What you say or do in your downtime has the potential to affect your public persona. Does this mean your life is no longer your own? Not really. But it is possible that your private life will become a matter for public discussion. Whether an indiscretion or a harsh altercation, a political view or a crazy-ass stunt. Public opinion can be harsh, even about things that are none of their business…what am I saying, especially about things that are none of their business. Not only can this impact you with your fans, but it can also impact you with publishers who may not wish to be associated with some aspect of your past. Such things make them question what you might potentially do or say in the future.
Award-winning author and editor Danielle Ackley-McPhail has worked both sides of the publishing industry for longer than she cares to admit. In 2014 she joined forces with husband Mike McPhail and friend Greg Schauer to form her own publishing house, eSpec Books (www.especbooks.com).
Her published works include six novels, Yesterday’s Dreams, Tomorrow’s Memories, Today’s Promise, The Halfling’s Court, The Redcaps’ Queen, and Baba Ali and the Clockwork Djinn, written with Day Al-Mohamed. She is also the author of the solo collections Eternal Wanderings, A Legacy of Stars, Consigned to the Sea, Flash in the Can, Transcendence, Between Darkness and Light, and Eternal Wanderings, the non-fiction writers’ guide, The Literary Handyman, and is the senior editor of the Bad-Ass Faeries anthology series, Gaslight & Grimm, Side of Good/Side of Evil, After Punk, and In an Iron Cage. Her short stories are included in numerous other anthologies and collections.
In addition to her literary acclaim, she crafts and sells original costume horns under the moniker The Hornie Lady, and homemade flavor-infused candied ginger under the brand of Ginger KICK! at literary conventions, on commission, and wholesale.
Danielle lives in New Jersey with husband and fellow writer, Mike McPhail and three extremely spoiled cats.
Her newest book, Eternal Wanderings, release at the beginning of April. An elven mage joins a Romani caravan to help a friend fight his inner demons, only to be confronted with ancient demons of a more literal sort.
Amazon author page http://www.amazon.com/Danielle-Ackley-McPhail/e/B002GZVZPQ/