I know this should be obvious, but...don't be a diva!
Sounds simple, huh?
Too many authors and freelance writers believe that they are the only ones worth anything in this business, therefore, they believe they are above an editor's advice or writing group's rules. I've had more than one writer--too many to count actually--tell me that they are the best writer to have ever lived. Seriously. And they truly think that. Because of this attitude, they try to bulldoze other authors, harass their email list, argue with editors, and snub administrators of writer's groups because, of course, rules are meant for everyone except them.
Their bullying may get them in the door because someone is tired of resisting, but it will come back to bite them in the ass. Editors, producers (for you screenwriters), agents, and publishers want to work with people who are easy. They want to work with people who can adapt to a changing circumstance, who understand compromise, and who are plain and simply kind. Who doesn't?
By all means, stand up for yourself and your work. I'm not saying otherwise. We all need backbones and respect. Ambition is admirable. But kindness is underrated. You can do all of that--stand up for yourself, your work, your integrity--without being nasty or undercutting another.
Publishing is a small world. Yes, writers can be neurotic--as can editors--but at the end of the day your career is built on your reputation.
Look at Katherine Heigel, the former Gray's Anatomy actress, who is reputed to be so difficult to work with that she's been blacklisted in Hollywood. She's gorgeous. She's talented. But no one will hire her because she is allegedly a first class bitch.
Don't let that be you in the writing world.
There are authors who I refuse to work with again because of their diva ways. When they ask me to edit for them, I say no. There are writer's groups I've left because of too many divas who bulldozed through the rules and caused chaos thinking that their projects were more important than anyone else's.
Here's some etiquette 1-oh-1 for writers:
- If a blogger hosts you to promote your latest release, send a thank you note/email/e-card.
- Reciprocate all help that you receive. If someone hosts you on their blog, invite them to yours. Don't be all "me, me, me" to the point where no one will host your next book release.
- Respect the rules of writer's groups. If the administrator says no self-promo, then respect that. if the administrator asks that people don't post random nonsense on the group wall, then respect that. These people are always volunteering their time for the benefit of a large amount of other writers. Again, don't be all "me, me, me".
- If an agent or manager asks if your willing to take assignments, say yes. Always. This means you are adaptable and not so hung up on getting all the credit for your own brilliance. You will get more work this way and also make great connections. Your name may not be on the finished project, but you'll be remembered positively if you were kind and able to compromise.
- Be willing to admit when you're wrong--because we all screw up from time-to-time.
- Don't brag about questionable awards that have no real meaning in the publishing world. For instance, if your author buddy gives you an 'excellence in literature' award on a fancy graphic, don't splash it everywhere as if that makes you more special than the next author--because it doesn't. And those of us who have been in the business know it doesn't. Now, if it is from USA Today or NY Times, then sure slap it on the front of your book or your website, but still be careful about bragging to the point where others are rolling their eyes behind your back. And that 'award' from your buddy? Yeah, no one cares. Editors and agents don't care. Readers don't care. It's only making you look foolish outside of your circle.
- When an editor gives you feedback, remember that that is their job. Everyone's first draft is shit--that's a quote from Ernest Hemingway. Writers need editors and editors need writers. An editor's sole purpose is too see your work from another perspective and give suggestions to take it to the next level. Fighting, disputing every comma, refusing to accept any change what-so-ever doesn't make you a superior writer--quite the opposite, usually.
- Be gracious when you're receiving praise and criticism.
Amber Lea Easton
Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published author of nonfiction, thrillers, and romantic suspense. A professional editor and freelance journalist for nearly two decades, she created Mountain Moxie Publishing Services to assist authors in mastering the writing craft. Her memoir, Free Fall, is dedicated to spreading suicide awareness, has topped international best selling charts, and has been named by Dr. Prem as fourth on the "Ten Most Inspiring True Stories Everyone Must Read" list. Easton is also a speaker regarding parenting through trauma and suicide awareness. To discover more about Mountain Moxie Publishing Services, please go to http://www.moxiegirlwriting.com. For a list of all of Easton's books, articles and interviews, go to http://www.amberleaeaston.com.