Back in October Gawker ran a fairly virulent post about authors. When I first read it I didn’t have the time to properly respond. Well, lately some other things have come up that have brought this post to mind, and now I have something to say.
In the Gawker post the anonymous writer described authors as “a cross to bear somewhere between ‘creepy messenger guy’ and ‘can’t even afford a new coat from H&M’ on the job-dissatisfaction scale. Because, with a few glowing exceptions, authors are the craziest, meanest, strangest, cluelessest people you’ve ever met.” Well, let me tell you something, Gawker. I’ve worked with authors for almost 15 years. I’ve been their editor and now their agent, and you know what, I’ve even been a friend to many. And never have I thought of authors, individually or as a whole, as “crazy, mean, or clueless,” although some might be a little strange.
Working with authors is no different from working with any other group of people, you are going to get the good, the great, the bad, and the ugly, but you know what I’ve found: 99% of authors are either good or great, it’s the editors and agents who make them bad and ugly.
So, for those of you kvetching about how terrible authors are and how much you hate working with them, let me give you my own unsolicited advice for what you can do to make your life easier, and actually enjoy working with those people who pay your bills.
1. Communicate. You won’t have to complain about the constant phone calls from your authors if you actually return a few. I find that the more an editor communicates information with an author, and her agent, the less likely the author is to inundate you with phone calls and e-mails. And if that fails, hey, that’s what an agent is for. It shouldn’t take much to drop me a line asking me to rein my client in. It’s not hard, but I can’t do it if I don’t know what’s going on.
2. Pay Up. Why should I have to constantly hound you for payments due? You know the work was delivered and you know it’s acceptable, so put the money through. Remember, I was an editor. It’s not that hard.
3. E-mail. A quick e-mail can save a lot of time, and letting an author know that her work has been accepted or the publisher is excited and has decided to do some big advertising helps. Publishing is a bizarre world and this author has entrusted you with her “baby,” the least you can do is keep her in the loop about how her career is progressing.
4. Read the book. I really shouldn’t have to say this, but guess what, I do. There are a few of you out there who don’t even read the books your authors send in.
So editors (and agents), while I know most of you are fabulous and do all of these things regularly, I also know there are a few out there who don’t. A little effort goes a long way, and honestly, I’m just trying to make my job easier too.