Adopting the 24-Hour Rule in Publishing

The best thing I ever learned as a parent of young athletes is the 24-Hour Rule. I’ve adopted it into all aspects of my life, including my life as a literary agent. The 24-Hour Rule states that you wait 24 hours before contacting a coach (or anyone else) about a complaint, issue or problem.

Brilliant. Twenty-four hours is just the time you need to calm down, process your thoughts, and approach the issue in a reasonable and responsible manner. Many times it means you let it go completely. I’ve followed this rule not just in sports, but with schools, friends, and at work. I find it makes my life easier and my relationships stronger.

This same rule should hold true for authors and publishers. I can guarantee there will be times in your career when you will be unhappy with someone. It could be revisions from your editor, feedback from your agent, cover copy, a marketing plan, or just a random email that doesn’t sit right. Twenty-four hours can make the difference in a response that aggravates the problem versus one that solves it. In other words, responding when you’re calm is so much better than responding when you’re not.

Another technique to solving problems or calming difficult situations is to use your agent. I can’t stress enough how much better things can go when authors remember to rely on the one person they are paying to do exactly that–calm difficult situations. if you can’t wait 24 hours or still feel outraged or upset after 24 hours, contact your agent. She’s the person who can either handle the problem for you or help you see it in a new light. Often she can calm fears and anger with just a few easy words.

By giving an issue 24 hours I find, more times than not, the problem fixes itself.

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3 comments

  1. I use this a lot or try to, although I’ve never had a name or set minimum time for it. I’ve tried to teach it to my children, not sure if I’ve been successful there, but I can hope age will help.
    Now being back in a classroom situation about half the group are half my age and still full of the knowledge they know everything or at least how everything should be. I’m finding I need that 24 hours and longer, more and more.

  2. Like Hollie, I’ve never had a name for it, or a specified number of hours, but I’ve always found leaving things for a while helps get better perspective – and not just on negative things, but on how urgent something is, or how important etc.

    Good advice.

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