Author Etiquette – Some helpful advice - Part 1 by Georgie Donaghey.
Dear Ms Lawyer,
I have a pending legal matter that needs urgent attention.I know you are no doubt busy with other cases but I believe reading through my 20,000 word complaint, providing detailed feedback as to what action I need to take should take you no more than a day or two. As you have undoubtedly dealt with dozens of these cases providing the answers I need should be just a matter of repeating previously supplied information and no need to charge me.
Signed: Maurice Moocher
Dear Mr Plumber,
Please help! I am experiencing a plumbing problem in my bathroom. Well a problem is an understatement there is water everywhere accompanied by other matter that really has no other place than down the drain. Yuck! I'm sure you will agree this is an emergency situation and I appreciate you dropping everything to come and repair the problem.I trust that as it is urgent and clearly a stressful situation for me you will find it within your heart to fix it free of charge.
Signed: Lola Leech
Believe it or not some people expect to secure services for free. No industry is immune including the children's writing industry! Let me explain…
During my time in this industry, over 15 years, I have had the privilege of working with and assisting a number of blossoming authors and illustrators. I have learned many valuable lessons and endeavoured to share my experiences with others in the industry.
In 2011 I founded Creative Kids Tales to fill a need in the children's writing industry and assist those working towards publication.Fast forward to today; lots of blood, sweat, tears and time have been invested to make it the industry recognised site it is today.
Countless hours are spent each week ensuring the site is up-to-date. We are constantly promoting and cultivating new ideas to keep the site fresh for you.
It's a fact of life with any service that is provided, you will always find a number of 'takers'.
Takers = people who believe they should receive goods/services for minimal outlay, either money or their time just like Maurice Mooch and Lola Leech.
Don't get me wrong, the majority of the writing community is supportive, but there are a few who expect everything to be handed to them. I guess it's the same with anything in life, but sadly the number of 'takers' are on the rise.
Here's one example: Someone recently expressed their disappointment when I had not secured them a publishing contract during their 1st year of membership with CKT. This person had only made one submission and had not utilised CKT's services to their fullest potential. This member had done nothing to promote themselves or their work. They told me the minimal membership fee of $30 we charge per year was purely for our financial gain. They also said 'we were not offering enough to the writing community'. They then threatened to take us to the Department of Fair Trading.
Sadly, this is becoming all too familiar. Some of the comments I've received would astound you, including threats to my family.
Creative Kids Tales is here purely to assist you with your creative journey. We are not agents, publishers and certainly do not make promises that we will make you the next JK Rowling. You need to work with us and not expect us to do all the work. Together we are a team!
I am a full-time working mother of three young children. My daily two-hour train commute and lunch hours are spent doing CKT updates, posting reviews, promoting our emerging authors and illustrators on social media. I respond to emails as soon as I get home and then again after my kids have gone to bed. My writing time has dwindled to almost nothing, yet I continue to promote those within the industry I love, and yes, it is my choice to do it. But the small minority who choose to expect the world and personally attack me when their unrealistic expectations are not met have left me questioning whether it is all worth it.
Our membership fees do not cover our time or running expenses. We reinvest them back into the website and for prizes, postage and initiatives we offer. We are continually introducing new features and keeping the site fresh for our members and visitors.
However, this post is about author etiquette, and now you have a bit of a background on why I have sought feedback from some of my colleagues and what led to sharing this information with you.
Here are some Do's and Don'ts when asking for assistance in the children's writing industry.
I have lost count of the many times I have been sent a submission or hundred to read.
Despite stating clearly on our website and on various pages that Creative Kids Tales are not publishers, we receive copious amounts of manuscripts from people who don't want to book an assessment through our Manuscript Assessment service, but instead request for us to just take a quick read through their submission, edit it and provide feedback. Itemised comments in track changes are almost always requested.
I have even received phone calls, asking if I can read 'just this one'.For some reason, these people feel I can accomplish reading, editing and providing detailed feedback in only five minutes. I wish I were that good!
On rare occasions I have obliged, only to receive abusive emails. Very rarely have I received a 'thank you.'In fact, in most instances, I never hear from the person again. Just like with Ms Lawyer and Mr Plumber; you wouldn't expect them to offer their services for free, so why should an author or an editor?
This brought me to some interesting topics of discussion with my peers. I was sure I wasn't the only one receiving these requests, so I started to ask around.
Social Media Promotion
Don't promote your book on other author's Facebook pages unless you are invited to do so.
Always ensure you seek the approval of the owner of that page first.
It is the fastest way to be unfriended, ruin your credibility and guarantee one less buyer at your book launch.
Another don't is to constantly promote your book through social media. Your friends love the fact that you have a book published, they love it even more when you have a second, third and so on published but the most infuriating thing is when an author promotes, promotes, promotes their work by shoving it in your face. They stop at nothing to promote their work even finding ways to intertwine their publications into the conversation of sometimes unrelated matters. This is a known as 'book bullying' and one that swiftly turns your once supporters into abandoners.
If someone promotes your work or interviews you on their website, be courteous and offer them a reciprocal link on your own site.
Perhaps you could interview them in return.
Help by sharing the interview link on your website, or social media outlets.
Do all you can to help promote the article or interview.
Try to share it in as many places as you can without pushing it in people's faces.
Perhaps you have contacts the interviewer doesn't and this could open doors for both of you.
The children's writing industry wheel turns smoother and faster when we all support one-another.
- Reviewing books is a great way to enhance your skills as an author and build your name within the community. It also helps bring your name to the attention of publishers.
- Some key points to remember when putting up your hand to review:
- Don't commit to review unless you have the time to do so.
- Holding onto a book for months before you do your review is not only rude it also strains the relationship between the hosting site and the publishers.
- Publishers do not pay people to review their books, but they do send them out expecting the book to be reviewed in a timely manner.
- Books that are reviewed 12 months after its release do not assist the author with sales.
- The closer the review is to the release date the better.
- Also, don't treat reviewing as a visit to the library.
You are probably not going to like every book that comes before you, but keep in mind it costs money to post or courier books out. Try and find something about the book you did like; the illustrations, the text – something. If you feel that bad about it, let the reader know why in your review. But remember, what you say can damage not only the sale of the book for the author, but potentially their reputation as well. You can also contact the site you are reviewing for and request not to receive books from that author or theme again.
Take care of books you receive. If it is requested you return the books after reviewing them, don't return them with broken spines, dog-eared corners or dare I say it, coffee rings on the pages.Yes, this has happened in the past. All it will do is have you removed off the reviewing list.
When submitting your reviews for publication, always read the instructions thoroughly.Ensure your submissions are free from spelling and grammar mistakes.
- You need to think of yourself as a business.You are the product you are selling.
- Articles, stories or submissions that have your name tied to them are a reflection of you and your work.
- If you submit work with errors, you should be ok with the fact it might be published with these errors.
- It always pays to check your work.
- Don't expect that the website/person/publisher you are submitting to will fix any errors.
- Some sites may charge you a small fee to make changes to your submission. This is also relevant for sites that might host your own personal works.
If you are requesting your book to be reviewed always send a query letter or email first. Introduce yourself and tell the reader a little about your book and why you would like them to review it. However, you must remember that offering free copies of your book does not guarantee a review will be returned. It also might not be the kind of review you were hoping for. So be prepared and don't get upset.
- Never resort to a public slanging match, especially through social media.
- A review is one person's opinion. If you don't like it, move on.
- You, don't ever have to send that reviewer copies of your subsequent books.
- Be sure if you've offered something in return for a review, such as a link to the review or website to honour it.
- Regardless of whether you liked the review or not, always remember to say thank you!
Look for part 2 on Author Etiquette soon.
Thanks for another great article! Always good to get good advice, as it is to reflect on ones own behaviour. Love your work ?