Thursday, January 14, 2016

A Professional and Business-like Manner

A professional and business-like manner. What does it really mean? 

I was going to get preachy here because the behavior of others in an unprofessional manner never ceases to amaze me. Instead, I'm going to make a bullet checklist for authors (and others) to consider. 

- Keep careful records. Save every piece of correspondence. Save every version of your story (start to finish) and everything about that story. Make spreadsheets to record income and expenses, sales, promotional venues you've undertaken, ISBNs, word count, etc. You'll thank yourself for doing so. So will the IRS if you are ever audited. 

- Meet your deadlines. Do what you promise to do. Yes, life happens. It happens all over me all the time. I keep my editors and publishers fully aware of what I've got going on so that they can plan accordingly when a book has been contracted. (Example: Yes, I can do this for you, but I also have this going too, so I'll need a little leeway.) I also let friends and family know what's going on with regard to publishing so that they might cut me some slack. If you've got obligations of any kind (like a family to care for or a job or health issues), let your publisher know that upfront. I have never met a publisher who wasn't willing to work with an author. They have lives too. They understand. But they won't be very understanding if you keep ignoring deadlines and they are constantly having to juggle the release schedule because you failed to deliver yet again.

- Your editor/publisher is not your friend. They are business associates. Okay, they might be friends. Honestly, I do consider my editors and publisher contacts friends. But there's a very fine line between "I'm talking to my friend" and "I'm talking to my business associate." Learn it and don't cross it.

- Be respectful. I know there are times you think your editor is the stupidest person in the world for not understanding your wonderful words. But I can promise you there are times she's thinking the same thing of you because she has no idea what you're trying to say and you are being combative and uncommunicative. Take a step back and calmly evaluate what you're being told. If you don't understand what the editor is telling you, a nicely phrased response to that effect is the key. That goes for all your business interactions. Think before you act. Being business-like means you have to quash those knee-jerk reactions. Save your meltdown for the privacy of your own home. 

- Educate yourself on all facets of the business. All of it. Top to bottom. It will help you understand exactly what's going on. Armed with knowledge of how it all works, when you see shifts within the industry, you'll be able to know story behind the story. 

- Dress for success and behave accordingly. You don't have to be a fashion plate, but you should consider your image as an author. That also goes for your demeanor. Please and thank you go a long way. So does a smile. Same with language.  

- Find a core group of most-trusted. Everyone needs a sounding board. Everyone needs someone to whom they can vent. A person or persons you know who will take it no further, who'll tell it to you straight, or talk you off the ledge. They are your tether to the real world and your anchor in the business world. 

:) Caitlyn Willows

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