My mama taught me manners

By now you know that writing a good book isn’t the only thing you need to do to make it in the publishing industry. You need to build a platform, have a website, a blog, engage in social media. But here’s something maybe no one has told you: you have to play nice.

Remember when your mother taught you manners? She meant that to be a lesson you used into your adulthood.

I’m sure you also know that being polite doesn’t get you noticed in a hurry. Being controversial does. And it’s not hard to be controversial. You could join the ranks of those railing against the publishing industry, the gatekeepers, the well-paid authors of books you hate. But is that what you want to be known for?

Yesterday, author, blogger and twitter pal @LaurenBaratzL blogged about coming across a nasty post by a would-be author about one of her books. She took no issue with the writer’s objections to the book, but took offence at the personal attack, which solicited several similarly mean comments from people who felt that her bad writing (though they’d never read Baratz-Logsted’s books) was rampant. Baratz-Logsted took the opportunity to advise others that this was probably not the way to go to build a professional profile or endear people to you.

And if you want to be a professional in this industry, that is something you’re going to have to think about. Here are two personal examples.

1) My editor for ANGEL’S GRACE once said that some other writers didn’t take criticism or editorial comments as well, or as easily as I did. Though we haven’t found another project to work on together, she has expressed that she would be happy to work with me again.

2) When my agent told me about one acquiring editor who is reading my current manuscript, two editor friends offered to call up the acquiring editor and tell her what a great working relationship they had with me. (We decided it would be best to make those calls only if she decided to take on the project, but you get the point.)

This is the kind of impression you want to leave on people. That you’re a nice person. That you’re professional. Why give anyone the impression that you might be difficult to work with, or that you might turn on them if you don’t like something they’ve done? This industry is hard enough as it is. Don’t make life any harder for yourself.

And make your mama proud.

[Image from:]


7 thoughts on “My mama taught me manners

  1. Lauren Baratz-Logsted says:

    Great post, Tracey…and I’m not just saying that because you speak favorably of me! Seriously, it is a great post and your point about working professionally with editors is well-made. When I work with any editor, I want that person to walk away thinking I’m the easiest person they’ve ever edited; not because I agree to every single suggestion – I don’t – but rather because I make their job easier by being a professional every step of the way.

  2. Tracey says:

    Hi Lauren!
    Thanks for stopping by.

    It seems that many new writers aren’t aware that their work doesn’t end when they come to the end of the page. Their work is also about how they interact with people, especially editors and agents.

    Hopefully we’ve enlightened some folks.

  3. Tracy Hahn-Burkett says:

    Tracey, this is great advice not just for writers, but for people working in any profession. Or even just people who want to interact with other human beings.

    Thanks for this reminder!

  4. Lindsay says:

    It’s definitely a small industry, so I’m sure it doesn’t pay to burn bridges!

    And you can become a somebody the slow, steady, not-so-sensational way. Google likes sites with lots of links pointing to them, so just keep working on building links, and eventually more and more people will find your posts through the search engine results.

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