Over on the Waxman Agency blog, there’s a great piece for authors on how not to piss off your editor. The main advice is very good, and comes directly from a “very smart lady who people love to work with.”
But I wanted to highlight a few of the smaller points that might be overlooked. Before writing a vitriolic email to your editor (or publicist or assistant or whomever), call your agent first. We all get frustrated, we all need to vent, and your agent is the person to do that with. We agents play an important part of the publishing process because we serve as a buffer between author and editor in contentious situations, giving perspective to the author and communicating clearly and professionally with the editor. We may be able to address the matter in a way that doesn’t offend the editor and gets the client what she wants. So call your agent!
For all authors entering the publishing process, please read, memorize, and repeat this sentence: “I’d add an additional caveat that you have to let the people on your team be good at what they are paid to do (otherwise why are you working with them?), and accepting that your process of publication won’t be exactly like what your friend/critique partner/Stephenie Meyer’s was like is also an excellent skill to cultivate as you enter the publishing process.” Let me tackle the first part of that sentence: “Let the people on your team be good at what they are paid to do.” The advice in the first half of this sentence may seem obvious, but I don’t think it’s often adhered to. Authors (ok, and agents) often second-guess the editor, the designer, the publicity and marketing teams, the publisher...the list goes on. And, we have every right to do so, especially in a business where most things are subjective. But I think everyone in the publishing process would benefit from taking a step back and thinking, “We all want to succeed here. I may not agree with the decision, but let’s discuss why the decision was made and figure out how to move forward in the most productive way.” Especially in these tough times, I like to think that we’re all in this together, trying to make the best books possible.
The second half of the sentence is just as important. The publishing version of keeping up with the Joneses is the most destructive game an author can play. Instead of worrying about what so-and-so got for an advance, print run, publicity/marketing plan, gift from editor, etc., worry about making you book as successful as it can be. I’ve seen authors destroyed by jealousy and preoccupied with parts of the process well beyond their control. Don’t let it happen to you!
We’re all in this business together, and working collaboratively with one another is the best way to achieve our mutual goals.