"There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island." - Walt Disney

Monday, July 16, 2012

5 of the Worst Author Traits


1. Bad-Mouthing – Whether it’s the agent, editor, publisher, or publishing in general, this is one trait that can damage a writers career. What most authors don't understand is that the squeaky wheel does not get the grease. A company may only publish 10 books a year, and everyone -- publicist, copywriter, editor -- makes decisions regarding how they are going to spend their time and money. With so many choices, they WILL NOT back someone with a bad, ungracious, or unprofessional attitude.

2. Shyness – Most writers are solitary creatures who struggle with placing themselves at the center of attention. The industry needs an author who is going to be out there acting as an advocate for his/her book both online and in person. A publicist can get reviews for your book if you're not good with strangers, but you still need to be active on listservs, at conventions, and so forth. They want to know you can help sell your product.

3. Arrogance- Authors who talk about themselves incessantly can be a turn off. When pitching an idea, or making industry connections be sure to start with conversation "How are you?", "What are you reading these days?", "Can you give me a sense of what you like and dislike?" etc. It won't hurt to ask them where they live or how many kids they have, instead of just telling them about your manuscript and how fabulous it is.

4. Adversarial or Lying – Editors and agents will walk away from contracts with authors who decide to play hard ball or who outright lie. There are too many good books in the world to deal with such nonsense. Remember, they are signing someone they hope to work with for years if not decades. Why would they want to sign someone who's going to make them miserable for that length of time? And never forget editors, agent, publishers all know each other and talk. So if you burn bridges with one, the word will spread and you could potentially burn ALL bridges. 

5. Obligation – Writers mistake obligations. First, you have an obligation to meet all deadlines and any other promises made to your agents, editors, and publishers. If there is a problem doing so, keep in touch with them and let them know what is happening or why BEFORE the deadline, not after. Subsequently, don't mistake a publisher’s obligation. It is NOT to publish everything that's submitted. Just because they published one piece by you does not mean they will automatically publish everything you submit. If anything, they may actually hold writers to HIGHER standard with each subsequent work.

7 comments:

E.J. Wesley said...

Think you've covered them all here, Sylvia. 1 and 4 are my personal "most disliked". Not a fan of 3 either. :)

D.G. Hudson said...

Very good points, and the one about saying something personal worked for me when I did a pitch at a conference.

The personal touch (if light) can be effective.

It's good to get us thinking on a Monday!

Jan Rider Newman said...

All very good points. It takes maturity to be a writer as well as an interest in other people.

Susan Kane said...

All excellent points. I think I don't qualify as any of them--phew!--but as a young writer, I may have.

Tony Laplume, Sith Architect said...

I wonder if it was simpler in earlier days, or just more elite.

Annalisa Crawford said...

It's the shyness that gets me every time. In my day job, I'm the one who bounds up to people and makes them feel comfortable and happy, but when the spotlight is on me... oh boy!

Rob-bear said...

"Well, enough about me," say the author. "What did you think of my latest book?"

Great list, Sylvia. Thanks.