Friday, May 28, 2010
You Get What You Pay For
(From FFW Small Markets, May 30, 2010)
I read a blog recently by a well-known blogger who advises people about scams. She writes and has traversed the writing environment for many years. Like me and others with busy writing schedules, she has limited time to offer free advice to email queries. But someone asked her to read over his chapters and see if they had merit. She was intrigued with the subject and offered to look it over.
A week went by. She reached a moment when she could study the material, but upon checking her email found a scathing message from that author, fussing about her taking so long to reply.
A day doesn't go by that someone doesn't ask me to review their work, connect them with an agent, or locate a publisher that suits their needs. As much as I'd like to fulfill all these requests, there aren't enough hours in the day!
Yet people periodically get angry at me for not "giving back" to the writing community.
I can list a half dozen online individuals who experience the same daily dilemma. I imagine that well-known authors receive those same pleas on an exponentially greater basis.
We go to conferences and beg agents and publishers for attention. That's fine. They attend conferences for that purpose, so the etiquette is correct for you to step in and get bold. Seek those opportunities. They are designed specifically for those seeking a hand up in the business.
We all like to think we have a chance for an Oprah moment: playing those long odds of mailing a manuscript to someone with connections, in hopes that he reads it, is overwhelmed and places your book in the hands of someone important. It's like winning the lottery, but we can hope, right?
Sure we can . . . however . . .
When those people we solicit do not respond, or do not reply quickly, or do not reply with the decision we hoped for, we have no right to say one negative word. Same goes for pitching an agent or a publisher. While it would be nice to receive a well-thought out response, that person isn't getting compensated for the time it takes to read, edit and type out the email or letter. Multiply those few moments you think they can afford to sacrifice, times ten or more per day. Suddenly they've lost half a day of income.
But if you pay an editor for a critique, you darn well expect it. If you are asking for a favor or soliciting attention without compensating the individual on the other end, don't get upset if you hear nothing in reply. You get what you pay for. Just realize it and keep on keeping on.
Let's say someone does come to your aid. That's fantastic. But at the same time, know that many others did not hear back about their similar requests. Be happy when someone replies. Understand when they don't.