Tag Archives: professionalism

Six Mistakes That Publishers Hate

angrybaby

As an aspiring writer attempting to build a name, you don’t want to irritate publishers. There are many mistakes that publishers hate. Please make sure to avoid the following:

1. Responding to Rejections – If your writing is rejected by a publisher, don’t respond to the rejection under any circumstances. A response is inappropriate. A response trying to convince a publisher otherwise, insulting them for passing on your writing, or bemoaning the rejection is a huge faux pas.

2. Poorly Edited Material – Even if your concept is interesting, if your writing is poorly executed, you’re wasting a publisher’s time – and your own. You must have your fiction edited before sending your work out to a publisher. There’s no way around this step.

3. Material That’s An Inappropriate Fit – How do you imagine a publisher would feel if they had to reject (as they will) the most amazing piece they’ve ever read because it’s totally incongruous with their style? Show some respect and submit your writing to appropriate markets.

4. Fanfiction – I don’t really need to say anything more – it’s called copyright.

5. Ignoring Submission Guidelines – You can’t send seven poems to a literary magazine if they ask writers to send no more than three. You can’t send a short fiction piece as an attachment if the literary journal wants it copied in the body of an email. Always read the submission guidelines before submitting, and make sure to follow them.

6. Unprofessional Query/Cover Letters – You’re not displaying personality, all you’re doing is showing a lack of professionalism. A too informal cover letter rubs many publishers the wrong way, even when submitting somewhere that appreciates edgy work or presents itself on their website as rather informal. You’ll be seen as an amateur, regardless of the quality of your writing.

Have you ever made any of these mistakes? It’s time to ‘fess up about your tragic experiences so that other aspiring writers can avoid making the same errors.

I imagine that sharing these experiences will also have a cathartic effect, but don’t quote me on that… 

Excellent Writers Are Voracious Readers

“I never desire to converse with a man who has written more than he has read” – Samuel Johnson, English author

Excellent writers are voracious readers. There is no way around this point. If you are not a regular reader, your work will suffer.

Some may argue that writing is an exercise in imagination, and can be successfully done independent of acquainting yourself with a wide variety of other writers. Please note the level of esteem and success of any writer who says that, and then think twice about adopting that belief.

Reading is critical because it stimulates your literary imagination. You may read a work like Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and be inspired to write a new take on the post-apocalyptic novel. When you read the work of other authors, it stimulates the formation of ideas (and acts a surefire cure for writer’s block).

The other major reason why writers must be voracious readers is that through reading, a writer learns how successful writers tackle the fundamentals. You’ll learn how they structure their work, how they address topics, how they construct sentences, how they describe environments and individuals, how they express themes without being didactic. You’ll absorb much of it subconsciously, and when you have difficulties in the writing process, you’ll have a wide variety of works to draw from as templates to help you power through any challenges.

Reading other writers is not just a feel-good act, one that is optional. Reading other writers is the foundation on which all your future success will be built. It removes the whiff of dilettantism from your work. Read more, write more, and build your name!

The Importance of Professionalism for Authors

We can all recite a long list of names of famous authors who are almost as famous for the way they comport themselves as for their writing. Please don’t attempt to mimic their antagonistic behavior. If you do not have name recognition in the popular imagination (i.e. Your books aren’t being sold at bookstores), you must hold your pride at bay, and conduct yourself like a person, not a walking spectacle.

The following are common errors related to professionalism that novice writers often make. These mistakes must be avoided at all costs:

1. Don’t rush the writing process along. Plot out your story. Fix the errors. Make sure the prose is sharp. Your first draft is just that – don’t send it out immediately to publishers. Spend some time ensuring that your work is as tight as it can possibly be before submitting it.

2. Pay attention to submission guidelines. There’s nothing less professional than not following submission guidelines. Doing so will almost undoubtedly lead to a rejection, and worse than that, it will color you as a careless writer in some rather influential people’s minds.

3. Write an appropriate cover/query letter. Think of this like a job hunt. Don’t be the person sending 100 resumes a day with the same generic cover letter. This is insulting to editors and publishers. Show that you are actually familiar with the work they publish, and that your writing would be a beneficial addition to the press or magazine. Do your best to find out the name of the person that you are addressing.

4. On that same note, make sure that your work is an appropriate match for the content of the journal or publisher. Don’t send a genre piece to a literary magazine. Don’t send a noir manuscript to Harlequin. Do your homework.

5. Don’t be goofy or edgy in your communication. Your work may be satirical or hardboiled, but your approach to publishers and other power players must be professional. You’re a writer – you’re not a clown or sociopath.

6. Never respond to a rejection (unless there’s a clear lead in to do so from the editor, which is extremely unlikely). Just don’t. Certainly don’t respond to any rejection with inflammatory remarks. The literary world is small. You want your name to be talked about, but certainly not for this reason.

7. Respond to acceptances from literary journals. Thank the editor for selecting your work. Be humble and gracious.

8. Get involved beyond your writing. Offer to volunteer as a reader for a literary journal. Start your own literary magazine. If you have the money to do so, pursue an MFA to show your dedication, network, and learn from masterful authors.

The takeaway: Never underestimate the importance of professionalism for authors. Conduct yourself in your literary career in the same fashion as you would in any other professional sphere.

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