It’s late on Monday, but I still made it here! It’s been crazy busy today. So much going on!
Today, I want to talk about responsibility. It’s a great concept, but we’re in the middle of a shift in thinking. I remember, not to long ago, when the main chorus I heard from a lot of people was “It’s not my fault.” or “That’s not my responsibility.” As authors, we need to take the road less traveled so to speak, and make certain things our responsibility. Otherwise, our book sales will not meet even the most meager of expectations.
Here’s a list and commentary of what some of my top responsibilities as an author are. You may not agree with them all, but hopefully some will at least make you think about it.
1. Being open and honest to critiques/feedback from any source. This means not fighting with your crit partners, beta readers, or editor. This means learning the difference between a comment that is valid and one made by someone who just doesn’t get it. This is being responsible for both how you interact with those who are trying to improve your work, and seeing that they might have a point.
2. Timeliness. This is not throwing a fit and ignoring an editor because you didn’t like what they said. This is being on top of your edits and getting them back to the editor without a lot of prodding. Life happens, and editors and publishers know that. But you have a responsibility to conclude your side of the process in a timely manner. If you’re one who just thinks you can put it off like the laundry, you’re wrong. It sets a very bad precedent, one that your publisher will remember.
3. Taking charge of your marketing. You know your book better than anyone else. You also know what you want your public image to be. Don’t expect your publisher to do all the work to make your book a success. Authors have a responsibility to market the book, make the public aware of their name. Authors cannot expect this to be done for them.
4. Give your reader credit for intelligence. This is a big one for me. You’ve already got someone invested in the book. Don’t now insult them by constantly repeating words or phrases. Your main character is a cop? Fine. She’s a cop. But you do not have to remind your reader of that on every page. Or every other page. Readers will remember, so give them the benefit of the doubt. I guarantee you that the impression you’ll make if you do this will not be a positive one. Readers will be so put off by it that they’ll never buy your book again. Do yourself a huge favor, and the responsible thing, and figure out repetitive words in your m/s before you submit it or upload it for release.
5. Positive public image. You are going to get, and keep, more readers and be praised by your publisher/agent/editor if you’re nice and pleasant. Leave the diva at the door. Seriously. No one wants to deal with a prima donna. Publishers will learn to dread to open your email if you’re demanding preferential treatment. Editors will push your book to the bottom of their pile if you reject every thing they recommend with nary a word. And readers will not recommend you to their friends if you can’t be bothered to sign an autograph in the elevator at a con.
That covers the bigger ones. Like most things in this business, it’s a learning curve. Even people who have seventeen titles out and twenty years of sales behind them learn something new all the time. The important thing when you have a misstep is to figure out what went wrong and remember. Because it very well could be your responsibility and not your publisher’s.
Speaking of publishers, have you ever been curious about Solstice? Our CEO, Melissa Miller, did an amazing interview over the weekend. Highly recommend taking a read at it!