Thursday, September 12, 2013

Be This - Not That!

Today, let's discuss author etiquette, both at conferences and in the online world. Here are just a few behaviors authors should avoid seriously avoid.

1. I'm sure you've heard the horror stories of authors pushing their manuscripts under the toilet stall to an editor or agent. Don't be that pushy person! Respect their space. Trust me - they-ll remember who you are and your chances of making a good impression at your pitch appointment will be ZERO, no matter how good your story is. Editors and agents share their horror stories with each other.

Instead, have your elevator pitch perfected and ready to go. You may meet an editor or agent in the hallway at a conference, in the dining room, or in the parking lot. Open a casual conversation first. Let them give you the opening to share your pitch.  

2. Recently, intentionally negative commentary on a large, well-read website forced an author to back off her book's release date. She was devastated. Don't be that negative person!   Other authors will know who you are and de-friend you faster than you can blink.

Instead, remember the adage, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all."  Think Thumper from the old Disney movie Bambi. 

3. At your pitch appointments, stick to your time limits. If you're in a group pitch with three minutes per person, don't go on and on about every minor character and trivial detail of your book. This leaves everyone else with no time to share and a serious desire to pummel you senseless. Don't be that inconsiderate person! This behavior will not earn you a request. 

Instead, have your presentation ready, whether it's memorized or on paper. If you have three minutes, yours should last two. Leave time for the editor or agent to ask you questions and - most important - request your business card or sample chapters.  This applies to one-on-one pitches as well. Be brief, be bright, and leave a good impression. Listen to what the agent or editor tells you. Ask them how they're doing! Thank them for their time. 

4. When you're on Facebook, Twitter, or other social websites, stay social. I see too many authors who only use these social networking tools to push their latest book, flooding you with invitations to their website or a book release party. Don't be that obnoxious person! 

Instead, be social! Share funny anecdotes, especially if it includes kittens or bacon. Be interested in other people's posts. Encourage people who seem to be having a rough time. Congratulate people on their successes. They'll remember that you're genuine and be more apt to like you. Then, when you share your accomplishments as an author, people will be more than happy to share and congratulate you. 

These are just a few examples, of course. Remember to be considerate and respectful of everyone around you, in every situation you encounter. Agents and editors will remember these traits. It shows them what kind of author you'll be to work with. Your behavior will help you sell your story. 

Don't be the person everyone avoids. Be the person everyone respects.

Monica Britt, editor
Twitter @mons1954

1 comment:

  1. Great tips, Monica. We've all seen some of this negative behavior and it doesn't sell books. At all. And that's what we're all here for eh? :)