How to talk to your publisher

Happy Tuesday! I hope everyone had an excellent Labor Day yesterday! We spent part of the day at the ocean. Even witnessed Poseidon being denied a sacrifice!

By the way, if you have a small car (like a Mini Cooper), don’t drive on the beach.  And, if you do, don’t park near the surf. Because you will get stuck as the tide is coming in. Which leads to needing a team that specializes in pulling cars out. And the state park Ranger taking note. That last one is the kicker, since it’s now known you ignored the ‘do not drive on the beach’ signs.

That’s not really what I want to talk about today, though. One thing I’ve noticed about authors is that a good number of them really don’t know how to talk to their publisher. It can cost you future contracts.

First off, most publishers have more than one author in their stable. And several hundred, if not thousand, titles that they have the rights to. If you’re emailing them and expecting your title requires their immediate attention, you’re probably going to be put off to the side. Why? Because no one likes being dictated to. It’s human nature.

Publishers have a lot they do, most of which authors don’t see. They juggle hundreds of authors, thousands of titles, a day. Add to that new submissions, cover art requests, making sure editors and proofreaders are working well with the authors they’re paired with, uploading new releases, marketing the brand, etc. It’s rarely about a single title.

So, don’t threaten. Don’t be demanding. Be polite, acknowledge that their time is important. Thank them for taking the time to deal with your problem at their convenience.

Oh, and unless they tell you they never said something, don’t forward them their email as ‘proof you agreed to this’. Especially over a weekend when they’re not at work.

My writing mentor, Nick Pollotta, said it the best. He taught me that this business is ‘incestous, in that everybody knows everybody else – and they talk’. He was beyond right in that assessment. One pushy email will make publishers remember your name in a bad way. One that makes them think of how you present yourself to them when reading your next manuscript.

You got your foot in the door. Don’t shoot it off.



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