Category Archive: editors

Jan 23 2013

13 Unprofessional Types of People in the Writing Biz: Are You Behaving Badly?

If you’re in the book writing/publishing business and you haven’t crossed paths with at least one of the unprofessional people on my list below, you might eventually. If you’re lucky, you never will. In no particular order, here are some of the most unprofessional types of people. Don’t be one of them. Also, here’s the followup post for the 13 Most Appreciated Gestures in the Writing Biz.

  1. The vanishing critique partner
You’ve exchanged manuscripts, spent the entire weekend reading, editing and making notes, you send the manuscript back and you wait and wait and wait for your critiqued manuscript in return. You receive nothing. Don’t be this person. Time is precious to every writer and that’s something you can’t give back. Respect the writer’s time by keeping your word.
  1. The vanishing publisher
Anyone you rely upon who suddenly vanishes into thin air is probably not a professional, especially when they’re holding your royalty check and the rights to your creations. Don’t be this person. A wise thing to do is to give your authors notice that you’ll be going under long before your vanishing act. Be open and honest, answer your emails, and assure your authors that you’re handling things in the best manner. Most importantly, give them their money and their rights back pronto.
  1. The vague critique partner
You received your manuscript back with a short note. “This was awesome!” You’re thrilled that she liked it but would’ve liked a little more detail. Just a little more. Don’t be this person. If you can’t pick apart every piece of the manuscript from the first word to the last … don’t. That’s not what most authors are looking for, but we can use much more feedback than an “awesome.”
  1. The agent/editor who likes your work but still rejects it
In my humble opinion, if you decide to write a page-long letter or email raving about the manuscript you’ve just finished reading, never mention a flaw, but still reject it, I think you should at least tell the author WHY you rejected it. Don’t be this person. You of all people in the publishing business should know how frustrating it is to give false hope through a rejection letter that starts as a raving review of the manuscript and ends with “I hope you find a home for it!” Either state why it’s not for you or send a form rejection.
  1. The agent/editor/publisher who never answers your questions or delays
Deadline has passed … a week ago! You sent email after email, asking the same questions from the emails before, but this time you’re asking if they’ve even received your emails. Finally, you get a response … days before the book’s official release date! Don’t be this person. Sure, you’re an editor and a super busy one too, but you can find time to send a quick email. A brief “Got your email. Will get back to you shortly” instead of nothing at all is always appreciated.
  1. The professional who picks favorites
Jane Doe’s books are a top seller (she’s a regular commenter on your blog). John Doe edits the most books in the shortest amount of time (and you chat every day on Facebook). Mary Jane’s books are rating pretty high with readers (and her Twitter pic is pretty hot too). Go ahead and allow Jane, John and Mary to take over the publisher’s blog and reel in the readers. Sure, there’s other authors and editors who can better contribute, but … these three are your favs. Don’t be this person. Sure, it’s a business and you want the top, highest and the best, but don’t make it obvious that you have your favorites. Professionalism requires that you are fair and making the best “business” decisions. Project that.
  1. The agent/editor/publisher who talks about inappropriate matters in public
Sure, you’re human, and you go through rough patches like the rest of us, however, not everyone is interested in your bankruptcy details, your crazy sex life, or the fact that you think self-publishing and its authors should go the way of the dinosaurs. Don’t be this person. Think before you speak, especially in public. You feel secure behind a screen. It’s not like being face-to-face with a “real” person. In social media it’s easy to forget that your colleagues, employers, fans, readers, followers, etc., are witnessing what you put out and are judging you by it.
  1. The tardy blogger/staff
Your job is to update the blog every Monday. Instead it gets updated sporadically (maybe late Monday night on a good day). You’re hosting a blog tour and have a give-away scheduled for this day, instead you post it that day. Do you find yourself constantly apologizing for being late? Then this may be you. Don’t be this person. If you say you’re going to do something at a specific time, do it at that specific time. Punctuality is one of the best traits a professional possesses.
  1. The lowdown, dirty “professional”
Think it’ll be cool to try to cheat Amazon’s algorithms to raise your book’s sales ranking? Don’t see the harm in giving away copies of another author’s e-books on your blog without the author’s permission? Thinking about making a bunch of email accounts and rating and reviewing your own books online? Don’t be this person. You will lose all the respect people had for you once they realize your ways. Being lowdown and dirty especially in the publishing business is never a good look.
  1. The author/writer who never follows the guidelines/rules
You want to send your submission to your dream editor before they leave on vacation and don’t have time to look for and read the submission guidelines, so you just attach it as a DOC file and send  it to the email address you found online. Don’t be this person. Submission guidelines are there for a reason. Simply put, they make life easier for you AND the editor, and increases the chances of your submission being seen. You want to show the editor you are a gem to work with and are capable of following rules. So follow them exactly.
  1. The professionals who never follow their own guidelines/rules
Being a professional is hard work. Life is very busy. So since you made the rules you can break them at your convenience. Don’t be this person. If you want others to follow your rules practice what you preach by following your own. If you promise to respond to submissions in four weeks, then make sure you follow through. How can you expect others to put up with your rules when it’s difficult for you to?
  1. The negative/snarky/bashing reviewer
So you think the book was written by an author who couldn’t grasp the basics of high school level English, and you say so in your review. You even go a step further and accuse the author of writing their own five-star reviews of the book because “who in their right mind would like that junk?” Don’t be this person. A good reviewer reviews the book’s content, not the author. And even though you believe those terrible things about the author, you don’t look good accusing or bashing another, especially in public.
  1. The author/writer who negatively responds to negative reviews
So the reviewer claims you wrote all the five-star reviews of your latest book because the book reads like an illiterate child scribbled it down and no one else could possibly enjoy it. You think the reviewer didn’t read your book at all because in the author bio, at the end of the book, it states that you have a B.A in English, and the reviewer needs to know this. So you respond to the review and tell her. Don’t be this person. If someone didn’t like your book, they are simply stating their opinion. When you respond, you are trying to sway their opinion. It never works. When someone writes a bashing review, they look like a bully. When you respond, YOU look like a bully. Keep that in mind.
Well, there you go. The thirteen most unprofessional types of people in the writing biz and why and how not to become one. Have you encountered some of these types? Take a shot at adding to the list. Did I leave a certain type out? Could you relate? Do I ask a lot of questions? Leave a comment and let’s discuss it.

Apr 18 2012

Why Writing Well Consistently is Crucial for an Author

Part of an author’s job is to market themselves and their work. We keep up with our online social networks, updating Facebook and Twitter and engaging with other authors, editors, agents and readers. We blog, we’re interviewed and participate in discussions on online forums and blogs. Whether we’re writing books or writing Facebook updates, our number one job as a writer is to write and write well.

 

What makes good writing?

  • Proper grammar, spelling, punctuation, word choice, etc.
  • Ability to convey your message effectively

Why is it important to write well all the time?

Your writing is an asset. It’s what you are selling. It’s part of your brand. You’re a writer. You need to prove your skill. You’re expected to know how to write and write well.
Imagine a potential reader coming across an article you wrote online … and it’s littered with typos, emoticons and abbreviations one would use when text messaging. It may be difficult to see what type of writing you’re selling in your books.
It’s important to remember, while online everyone’s watching from potential readers to editors, agents and publishers. Show the world that you understand grammar, punctuation and vocabulary. Flaunt your writing skills everywhere you leave your writing, and be consistent.

 

When to stick with proper writing:

  • Writing and/or responding to emails
  • Writing, responding and/or commenting on blog posts
  • Article writing
  • Writing contests
  • Manuscript queries, partials and submissions
  • Book reviews or public reviews of any kind
  • Updating social network sites
  • Online interviews

 

 

When you can let it slide:

  • Twitter updates (due to the 140 character limit)
  • Text or instant messaging

 

Tips to make sure your writing is superb:

  • Always use spell check
  • Read it back to yourself out loud
  • Use Kindle or Microsoft Word’s text-to-speech feature
  • Have someone else look over it
  • Put it away for a couple days, look over it again, and then post publically
  • After publishing it (blog or online article) and you find a typo or mistake, correct it immediately

 

It helps to get into the habit of writing well if you do it regularly. Writing is your talent, your brand and your value. Don’t abuse it by not demonstrating your skill. Do you have any tips you’d like to add?

Mar 17 2012

Your E-Publisher May be in Trouble: Red Flags

Hindsight is twenty-twenty, right? Here is a list of some of the red flags to look for in your book publisher. Maybe this can help you prepare for their unfortunate closure, keep you from signing over the rights of future books, or warn fellow authors about said publisher.

These are just some of the red flags I myself ignored when a previous publisher I was contracted with went under. Just because your publisher is experiencing one, some or all of the red flags on my list doesn’t necessarily mean they are doomed, although all reputable and professional book publishers should be up to par in regards to their business and not slack on these important issues.

Warning signs:

Lack of communication:

Your emails are starting to go unanswered or there’s always an unreasonable delay in replies. Sometimes it’s a week before someone gets back to you. Sometimes you never receive a reply.

Lack of professionalism:

A member of the publisher’s staff writes an article on the publisher’s blog about his or her distaste of multicultural books with paranormal themes. Or your publisher shares unwanted personal information such as having to fire a staff member and even shares the details in a mass email to all the authors.

Staff is changing frequently:

They’re going through editors, cover artists, and other staff quickly. Every other week or month there’s a rotation, someone leaves and someone new is taking that person’s place. They rotate so fast and frequently you barely remember your last two editors’ names.

Inaccurate or late payments:

That Paypal payment you were expecting from your publisher on the fifteenth showed up a couple weeks late. And didn’t your statement say you made ninety sales? You’re pretty sure a twelve dollar payment is a mistake.

No website or blog updates:

The same blog post is still at the top of the page every time you visit the publisher’s blog. You’ve been looking at the same post for the past month.

Poor manuscript editing:

While reading other books from this publisher you notice a handful of spelling and grammar mistakes that should have been caught before publication. Come to think of it, you only had one round of edits from your editor too. You looked over your own manuscript more times, and although you have a good eye you still found a misplaced comma here or there.

No sales details:

Sure, you get a sales record but it’s only a Word document containing a list of your books, the amount sold for the month and the amount of money owed. You don’t know when the books were sold, from what retailer, or the publisher’s cut. When you inquire about lack of detail, you’re told the next statement will be more detailed.

Delve in shady practices:

You heard other authors discussing your publisher paying for five star reviews? Or part of your contract was to have at least five of your family members leave reviews of your book on the publisher’s website? Other practices like these that are frowned upon and dishonest spells doom for that publisher.


Keep an eye out for red flags, listen to your instinct and act before it’s too late to avoid being deceived. Are there any other red flags you might add to my list?

Feb 24 2012

Embracing Rejection Instead of Fearing It

All writers experience publisher/editor/agent rejection at one point in their writing careers, but serious writers learn to embrace that rejection and use it to improve their writing.

 

Here’s how:

 

Don’t let it hinder you

 

Just like that cutie in high school who never knew you existed. If only you could’ve built the courage to plop your food tray down at his table, slide in beside him and say, “Hi,” things might’ve been different. Instead, fear held you down at the table in the corner with the rest of the unpopulars as you watched big-busted Kyla sit down beside him and start a giggle-laden conversation. What, just me?

 

Fear keeps you from trying because you’re uncertain of the results. And the ultimate fear for writers is … what if they don’t like my writing. And instead of finishing the novel, you put it on the back burner because if you finish it then you’ll want to share it. And what if they think it sucks?

 

You want to get it published, but you’re afraid of submitting it because you’re writing sucks compared to other writers. What if publishers think you have no business writing even grocery lists?

 

They accepted and published your novel, but you’re afraid to market it because reviewers and readers could be harsher than any editor. What if they hate your book so bad the only sales you get are from readers who buy your book for the satisfaction of watching the book burn ritualistic style, and in your backyard, nonetheless?

 

Own up to the fact that you will be rejected one way or another, sooner or later, and make sure every time you …

 

Learn from it

 

A (sort of) nice thing to take away from being rejected by a publisher, editor or agent is that sometimes you get a valued piece of written inscription known as a personalized rejection letter. Sometimes the editor will explain why the manuscript was rejected and sometimes she will even give you pointers on how to improve it, leaving you with the decision to fix it and move on (or resubmit) to another publisher without making any changes at all. Whichever you choose, the point is … you’re moving on (or revising and resubmitting) and trying again.

 

You may get rejection after rejection and no explanation for it. Which isn’t unusual but if your work is continually getting rejected it’s time to change your tactics.

 

  • Rewrite the query letter. Sometimes tweaking the query letter is all it takes. Since the query is the first hint of your writing skills the editor encounters, it’s important that it’s just as polished as your manuscript.

 

  • Have someone else look over the query letter and manuscript. Sometimes it’s difficult for you to see your own mistakes and typos, or if something needs clarification.

 

  • Double check and follow the submission guidelines. Make sure the publisher publishes similar books in your genre, are open for submissions, accepts from author or agent, etc.

 

  • Be professional. No emoticons, text-like abbreviations or usage of slang in your query letter or any written correspondence between you and publisher/editor/agent.

 

  • If all else fails … focus on writing your next novel. Don’t spend too much time rewriting and submitting the same manuscript. Move on to your next novel which should be written better than your last. You should keep learning your craft and improving.

 

Know it’s not the end

 

Serious writers understand it’s not the end of your writing career or the end of rejection. There will be more rejection letters just as long as you keep writing and submitting manuscripts. Rejection is a huge part of being a serious writer.

 

Imagine plopping your food tray down next to that cutie in high school and he turns to you with a look of disgust on his face. Your worst fear, right? Hey, you knew it could happen, at least you can say you tried and that you learned to never go that route again. (Next time you’ll catch him at his locker after school.)

 

So embrace rejection instead of fearing it and use it to improve your writing.