Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Name of the Game - Communication

Writers are a unique bunch of people. Just in case you didn't already know that, I figured I'd throw it in first thing on a Thursday morning.

Writing is a lonely pursuit in some ways, in that you have to do the deep digging and rough work on your own (assuming you don't collaborate with someone else). But even in rough draft mode, communication is key. Now, this communication might be mental, but let's face it, all of us talk to our characters or assume their role in order to write dialogue. So hence - communication.

Then there's working with one's cp's. You send your copy out, they make notes, comments, maybe you do those once a week readings and everyone throws in their two cents - communication. It's the only way to get feedback on your work. They talk, you listen.

So let's assume you're lucky enough to make a sale and have a book published - does communication end there? Hardly. Now you launch into super-duper marketing girl (or boy) and you talk to everyone - people in grocery stores, bookstores, your kids soccer game, and my personal favorite - a captive audience on an airplane. Why? Because you're selling your book. Then you do interviews for writing sites and friend's with cool blogs and you talk to booksellers and advertisers and you speak at writer's groups. Communication.

So what I can't figure out for the life of me, is why writers have trouble communicating with their agent or editor. Check out Kristin Nelson's blog yesterday. She talks about this very problem that I simply think shouldn't be one. Now, I'm not saying you ring up these people every day and harrass them. Professionalism goes a LONG way in this business. I don't email my agent/editor unless I have a question concerning my work or have good news to share (good reviews, contest finals, etc). They work the same way. I don't have to wonder if anything's happening with my book deals, etc., because I know the minute Kristin knows something, she will email and ask me to call her.

By the same token, I don't pester. Emailing her everyday wouldn't make an editor make a decision any faster. So patience is key.

BUT - if your agent has had your manuscript for months (and I know some that have had manuscripts with their agents for 8 months or better) and you still haven't heard anything - like if she even read it - then you need to make a phone call, reset expectations and maybe make a decision about whether that relationship is working. Now, I'm not talking about a day or a couple of days delay - not even a week. Heck people get sick, take vacation, etc. But months????? Wake up and smell the roses. There is just simply something wrong with that scenario and sticking your head in the sand won't make it any better.

Yeah, I know it's hard to get an agent, but what good is one who's not reading your work going to do you? I've known several writers with this problem - writers who have already been published and it's a frustrating and sad situation.

Communication is key to this business.

As we say in the south"you don't need to poop out of the same b-hole," but a little talking might not be a bad idea, especially when your career is on the line.


Jaye Wells said...

Nice post, Jana.

"you don't need to poop out of the same b-hole,"

OMG, I have never heard anyone say that.

Kimber An said...

I think confidence is at the core of this issue. I have writer-friends who seem to write and re-write the same story over and over. I think it's because they're afraid to start the query process. When writers do start the query process, they go through tons of rejections. Finally, they snag an agent. By that time, they're elated and, like Eeyore, are just glad someone noticed them. I think maybe they're confidence is wearing thin. They're afraid to talk and mess up what they've worked so hard for. We can encourage these friends as much as we can, but in the end they have to muster the confidence themselves. They have to find the source of their own strength.

Tori Lennox said...

I have never heard that saying either! And I live in the South! *g* Too funny!

An excellent post, by the way. :)

Kelly Parra said...

Great one, Jana! I think your advice was a lot better written than mine. haha! =D

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