Friday, December 10, 2010

Publishing Etiquette

by Jean Henry Mead 

Assuming that you’ve done your homework, selected the right publisher and submitted a near perfect manuscript, there are guidelines to follow in order to maintain a good working relationship.

~ Be positive in your dealings with a potential editor or publisher. When the decision is made to acquire your manuscript, an editor is committed to working with you for as long as a year or more. So, you need to present yourself as a willing and passionate partner, according to New York Editor Nicole Diamond Austin. She advises writers to be prepared to answer questions about the manuscript and most important, to be flexible, especially if the editor gives critical feedback.

~ Be willing to share your career vision, especially if it’s your first novel. Share your expertise and how you want to be known. Compare your work realistically to other authors and explain how you plan to promote your books.

~ Explain your “platform”—anything that uniquely qualifies you to write your book or provides you with a ready audience of readers. For example, if you’re a doctor, your medical thriller will be more readily accepted than if it were written by a pet store owner.

~ Honesty will win the publisher over. Don’t claim to be Lawrence Block’s friend when you only met him once at a writer’s convention. It’s tempting to try to impress a publisher but it will come back to haunt you later, as some novelists have learned. Feel free to briefly talk about your writing accomplishments but make sure you're accurate. Publishing is a close knit industry.

~ Respect an editor’s time and realize that you’re only one of many writers in his stable. And be patient if your calls are not immediately answered. Make sure you have a good reason to call because publishers, editors and publicists are very busy people.

~ Don’t get pegged as a difficult writer to work with. You may not like your book cover or the way the publicist is handling your PR campaign but you need to trust that they have your best interests at heart. Make sure that whatever is bothering you is worth potentially damaging your relationship.

~ Always be nice to the publishing assistants. Remember their names and ask how they’re doing when you call or email. Writers are often surprised at what an assistant can accomplish and the speed with which they get back to you.

~ Keep your editor informed, both before and after publication. If you’re a guest speaker, write a magazine article about your book or appear on a convention panel, make sure he or she knows about it ahead of time. The event may serve as a good reason to reorder additional copies of your book. But don’t overwhelm your editor with details.

~ Give your publisher a list of names of people who are willing to endorse your book and make sure your memo isn't longer than three pages. Again, those who work in a publishing company are very busy, so, don’t overload them with too much information.

And, finally, always thank your editor, publicist and publisher for the opportunity they’ve afforded you as well as the hard work they’ve given your manuscript. Thank them personally as well as in your book’s acknowledgements. A little appreciation goes a long way. . .


Tim A Martin said...

Great post! Very good advice. Of course just treating people how you'd want to be treated goes a long way in any industry I'd imagine. said...

Thanks for the kind words, Tim. Yes, you're right. The Golden Rule seems to have been forgotten by most of us recently. A little kindness goes a long way.

Morgan Mandel said...

Those are excellent tips to remember. It doesn't pay to get on anyone's bad side in the business, because people know people you wouldn't expect them to know.

Morgan Mandel

Lynne Spreen said...

I'm so eager to begin applying your etiquette tips! Cross your fingers for me.

Prem Rao said...

Thanks for the useful tips. I feel sharing our experiences with the publisher- especially the positive moments- would go a long way in building the relationship.

Mark W. Danielson said...

Great advice, Jean. It doesn't matter what the situation or circumstances, the Golden Rule always applies.

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Oh, my, I can't believe what I hear from some editors and publisher about what authors write to them. Don't they realize that these people connect with one another, including the name of a problem author?


The Happy Whisk said...

Congrats on finishing your manuscript. Great job.