It's been an interesting week in my world and it all surrounded around relationships---those who do them well and those who don't.
As in any area of our lives relationships are important and can help open or close doors. This is obviously true in the publishing world as well.
This week I had the opportunity with two different publishers for interaction on contracts that had already been signed. The scenarios were almost identical. The contracts were signed on a tight deadline in which the normal time frame for the book to release was cut short---or about to be cut short. It required that my author and I move very fast, but it also required the publishers to move very fast in order to get the books released in a certain season which was important to the book. This is where the stories depart from their similarities.
Two different publishers. Two different books. Two different authors.
Two VERY different responses.
Publisher #1 - was too busy to meet with us immediately after signing the contract, but assured us they would be moving ahead with the book to get it formatted and information out to the key sales accounts for the book to start being sold to the national accounts. Great. We sent them the information needed and then waited FIVE weeks for a phone meeting.
Due to an automated meeting confirmation process the publisher used, which gave my author the wrong time for the meeting, we missed the meeting after waiting five weeks!
Those things can happen, but the problem was the response from the publisher. They went ahead and had their decision making meeting about her book without her. Then they took no responsibility for the fact that they sent out the wrong information to her regarding the meeting or the fact that they did not go through all the channels requested to try to let her know when she missed the meeting. We were even told without apology, "We have LOTS of authors and you are just one of them." (Yes, they actually said that.)
Publisher #2 - Compared to Publisher #1, this publisher has a stronger line-up of "known" authors, a more recognized name in the publishing industry and they are putting out more books each year. My author and I would be considered a small fish in a big pond relatively speaking and yet, this publisher has worked to make my author feel important. They have welcomed ideas, marketing strategies and, in every phone call, of which there have been several since signing, they have made the statement, "We are very excited about your book and the opportunities in front of us."
Which publisher would you want to be YOUR publisher?
While there are no relationships that are perfect, and human error will happen, it's how we respond that is important. Errors will happen and grace should be extended. But the message that is important is VALUE.
At the end of the day, value shouldn't be extended based on how well-known someone is or isn't or what they can bring to the table. At the end of the day, EVERYONE has value. It's important for all of us to remember that. Do we extend the same grace and value to lets say the trash collector who comes to our home, as we do to the president of a company? It's something to consider.
For my company, I want all my authors to know they are valuable, as are the publishers I work with and every editor, illustrator, designer, writer, etc. I've certainly had to grow in that area. What about you? I'm not the gushy, constantly affirming, sanguine type personality, but I've learned---sometimes belatedly-that as an agent or publicist, my job is to encourage my authors and remind them who they are and the value of the gift they possess. (OK, sometimes I have to give them a kick in the rear as well, but that's another blog.)
Writing can sometimes be a thankless job until you hit that book or article that goes "big" and you begin to receive steady feedback. Some writers never hit that place. Some only achieve their fifteen minutes of fame.But let me say, your value and your skill as a writer, shouldn't be based on the number of books sold or fame you achieve.
I've represented some authors that are absolutely phenomenal writers. Their words inspire, encourage and cause food for thought and growth. In my book they are heavy weights and yet their sales numbers do not always reflect the skill or the depth of their message.
Sometimes, if we listen only to what others say, (for example like publisher #1 - "You are just one of many...") or if we pay attention to sales numbers, or perhaps that we haven't been able to yet secure a contract, does that determine who you are or what you can do?
It does not.
So here are my thoughts that I would like to share as I finish this rant:
1. If you feel God has called you to write. Then write.
2. Do it well. Be thoughtful. Take the time write it and then let it rest and then work on it some more. Also, do not forego a professional edit if you plan to publish. You devalue yourself when you do that.
3. Be willing to accept constructive criticism.
4. Be a life-long learner. That means continue to hone your craft to improve your skill level. Be willing to go outside your comfort zone and learn to market your material to the best of your ability.
There are so many great books available on the market right now to speak into this area, I can't even begin to keep up with them all---and neither can you. So start reading. Make it a goal. How about one a month? And then begin to apply what you learn.
And remember, YOU. HAVE. VALUE. And so do those around you. Just as you want to receive value. Be willing to extend value. If you are lucky enough to one day have a publisher, value their efforts. Value the sales team. Value your publicist. Value your agent. (smile)
As we extend value. We often receive value. It's all about the relationship.