Keep it professional
Hey! It’s Friday! Oldest has been retrieved from college for the summer, and the quiet of the house is disturbed by the sounds of her unpacking and shuffling stuff around.
I’ve been thinking about this for a few days and thought it was time to get those thoughts down.
Every author needs to maintain a level of professionalism with their publisher, their agent, and their readers. Plain and simple.
At the end of the day, this is a business relationship. That’s it. The publisher and agent are trying to help you get your book out in the world. The reader bought it, read it, and (hopefully) left a review. Maybe they’ve stood in line to get your autograph at a signing.
Being friendly is great. It really helps in this industry. The person who can write a nice, friendly, and polite email will have more done for them than the angry author who makes demands. Readers will have more fun talking with someone who’s humble and approachable and ‘like them’ than they will the grump that can barely look at them or complains that their coffee is cold.
You can be too friendly, though. Watch the subject of your emails. Is it too personal? Is it too vague? Did you forget to include your title? Agents and publishers work with hundreds if not thousands of authors. And millions of titles. Do you really think they’ll instantly remember that you wrote a specific title off the top of their head? Or which of the half dozen you have with them you’re talking about?
So, in emails, keep it short and simple but polite. Remember to include the title you’re asking about. You can ask about how they’re doing, etc, but don’t include the three paragraph story about how your cat chewed up your dishwasher’s intake hose and you had to bail out the kitchen before you could email them with the question. Don’t take over their FB post and talk about how you had it worse than what they were talking about. Don’t go on twitter and tag other authors in your promotions unless they’ve said you can.
Ask yourself one simple question: if this was a 9-5 office job, would I be messaging my boss at 6:30 on FB to ask a work question? Would I tag them on twitter?
If the answer’s no, you probably shouldn’t be doing that to your publisher or agent, either.