Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Writer's Etiquette

Sometimes new/aspiring writers don’t know how to react in certain situations and tend to do the wrong thing. This post is full of DON’TS and will hopefully save many writers from committing these “crimes” that have no doubt aggravated others.


1. Don’t send agents/editors more than they want.

Closely read their submission guidelines on their website. First, make sure they are accepting submissions. Second, pay attention to how they want it. Some only accept e-queries. Some don’t want attachments. Third, double check their interests to make sure they accept your genre.

2. Don’t address your query letters with Dear Sir/Madam. (Same goes for emails to reviewers.)

Always know the agent’s/editor’s name and spell it correctly!

3. Don’t bug agents/editors.

In their guidelines, they often state how long you can expect to wait to get a reply back from them. Some will specifically say, “If you don’t hear back from us in yada-yada weeks then it’s a rejection.” Others will say, “If you don’t hear back from us in yada-yada weeks, send us an inquiry.” An inquiry through email or snail mail is a gentle reminder to check in on the status of your manuscript.

4. Don’t reply back to reviews on Amazon or Goodreads.

Not even if you want to thank someone for a good review and definitely not if you want to start a fight over a bad review. You can give a broad thank you statement in a Facebook status to thank everyone.

5. Don’t reply back to rejections!

You’re not the only one getting rejections, and far from the only person seeking publication. Rejections are part of the writer’s life and a badge all of us earn. Take the rejection graciously; crumple it up, set it on fire, or file it away, but don’t demand why you were rejected or say they made a mistake.
See: How to Handle Rejection
6. Don’t go back on your obligations.

If you have a deadline, meet it or ask for an extension. If you are scheduled to be a guest on someone’s blog, send them everything they need at least one week ahead of time. I had one person not send me anything at all even after I reminded him and he said he’d get it to me the next day. Even when the date passed for his guest post I never heard back from him.

If you host guests on your blog, schedule their posts so you don’t accidentally forget to post it on time.

Snailmail...do you still use it?
Image From Pixabay

7. Don’t ignore guest blogging instructions.

If you want to be a guest on someone’s blog, pay attention to the instructions they give you in the email or .DOC attachment they send you. For my author interviews, I have a list of questions the author can choose from, and I state in bold, red letters to only answer a total of ten, but I still have the occasional person answering all 28!

8. Don’t send an author an email to say how you would’ve wrote their book, a specific scene, or character.

You didn’t write the book and you don’t have the right to tell the author this. Besides, if it’s published, there’s nothing the author can do to fix what you think is wrong. Keep this to yourself. You can, however, email an author to let him/her know how much you loved their book...we love this!

9. Don’t assume someone will read your book, even if they read something for you in the past.

Always ask politely if they have the time and want to read your story. Send it only when they agree to help.

10. Don’t tell someone you’ll buy, read, and review their published work if you don’t intend to do any of those things.

This only creates false hope. Wishing them luck and telling them their book sounds interesting, though, is a common statement to make and totally fine because there's no promise in that comment.

11. Don’t like hundreds of author Facebook pages to get likes back. (Same goes with following a ton of blogs.)

I knew someone who would like hundreds of random author pages to get likes in return. She even told me to do the same thing. (I guess she noticed my same numbers.) But I told her I was going to get my likes the old fashioned way, because I knew her large number didn't indicate real fans and wouldn't translate into sales. 

A better way to do this is to like pages for authors/bloggers you know personally and send them a polite message to let them know. You can even add a link to your page in the message and kindly mention they can follow you back if they're interested. I’ve done this before because I use a pen name, but I never expected likes in return.

12. Don’t be rude!

That’s what all of this boils down to.


More DONT'S from commenters:

Don't give all of your author friends 5-star reviews to get 5-star reviews back. Not only is this obvious, but they may not give you a 5-star back.

Don't engage trolls on social media. Rise above them.

Don't gossip or participate in controversial conversations on social media. It may come back to bite you.


Do be responsible and professional no matter what!


QUESTION: Do you have anything to add?



Want to help with my Witch + Ghost Blog Tour?





66 comments:

  1. Very good advice. I particularly like the one about making promises and not keeping them.

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    1. Yes. That's a big one because you never want to get someone's hope up.

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  2. Hi Chrys - it's the way we should be in normal life ... be cognisant of others' needs and requirements if they're helping us ... it's essential to be polite ... so so true - cheers Hilary

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    1. You're absolutely right, Hilary. We need to be more conscious of other's feelings and do what's responsible. There are too many people out there who just don't care.

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  3. Definitely agree with the guest post instructions! I had someone send me something that was more than twice the length of what I require in a guest post, even after he'd read my guidelines. I reminded him of them and asked him to shorten his piece. He did - by a whole hundred words. When I asked again, he became angry and said he'd find another blog. If he'd just followed the guidelines, everything would've been cool.

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    1. That's dumb. Everyone knows you like short posts. And even if this person didn't, he should've been gracious enough to make the change without a fuss.

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  4. Good idea, but does this mean you're going to give me questions to ask you in an interview?

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    1. Haha! Nope, those are questions for the authors I host.

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  5. I also don't think it's a good idea to mention agents, editors, etc., by name on your blog, unless you're already working with them or they're otherwise helping you with a contest you're hosting or something. Even if you've had a nice interaction with an agent who ultimately passed, it's probably not the best idea. I've just made allusion to how I've had some very nice encounters with a few agents when I was still querying. I also never named the agents I've mentioned having been disappointed at passes from. They could always read or stumble across one's blog, and decide not to contact or work with a writer based on that.

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    1. That's a good one! Especially if you want to rant. Too may writers out there like to rant about reviewers who don't like their books or agents/editors who pass up working with them.

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  6. Oh yeah, never ever respond to bad reviews, as that is all they want you do to. So then they can rant and get attention.

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    1. Yup, attention is all they want. And when a writer replied back to a bad review, they are automatically the bad guy and ganged up on.

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  7. Excellent advice, altogether a wonderful post.

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  8. Excellent! Though I've not submitted a manuscript, I can tell you that many of these rules are true for a variety of business interactions. When I was hiring, I didn't even look at the resumes that didn't follow the posted guidelines. I figure that if you can't follow the first rule, knowing your employment depended on it, then you're really not the kind of person I want to hire.

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    1. I can see where this advice would work for any type of business interaction. Nothing is more annoying than when someone doesn't follow guidelines. They are not suggestions!

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  9. All great points, Chrys. When it comes to this social media circus, we must remember to stay classy. You will be eaten alive otherwise.

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  10. Great advice!

    Hey, what's the age level on your Witch and Ghost books? I want to sign up but need to know which of my blogs to sign up for. My regular blog is MG-NA. My Ashelyn blog is YA-adult.

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    1. Witch of Death wouldn't fit those age groups. But Ghost of Death is NA. The main character is 21. :)

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  11. Excellent advice! Scheduling is a must. I'm not having too many guest posts at the moment, but before I had a schedule I came close to forgetting to post a couple of times!

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  12. I'd add if someone supports your book, support them back. I'm working so hard on this now...trying to read their books, leave reviews, participate in their tours, etc. That's what makes this such a great community! Plus it's SO much fun to get to read all of these books and let the world know about them. (Well, the tiny part of the world who reads my blog and follows me on social media!)

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    1. That's a good thing to do. I'm trying to do the same thing in return, but I've got such a long list that I need to review, but I do love hosting them back. :)

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  13. This is all great advice, Chrys. Thanks so much for sharing! I accidentally broke one of those rules once, but trust me, I felt horrible and will never do it again! :)

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    1. Sometimes we break a rule when we don't know any better. Once we do know, we know to never do it again! :)

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  14. GREAT tips, Chrys. I wish we didn't have to list some of these (like don't be rude!) but people seem to break these rules all the time. It always helps to know what we should be doing!

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    1. It would seem that most of these would be common sense, but they are broken all the time.

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  15. Replies
    1. It's not so funny when it happens to you. As it happened to me. *sighs*

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  16. Very good and appropriate advice. And #8 is something that never, ever crossed my mind. I signed up for your tour, good luck!!

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    1. Sadly, #8 happened to me and that's how I came up with it. Thanks so much for signing up for my tour! :D

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  17. Excellent advice. I'd add don't give glowing, 5-star reviews to all your author friends just to get them to reciprocate. It's shallow and very obvious.

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    1. That's true! And they may not give you a five-star back.

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  18. Don't gossip. Word gets around if you say something about an agent or editor or book reviewer. And stay out of controversial discussions that pop up now and then on some blogs or Twitter.

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    1. Don't gossip is a big one in this day-and-age! We just need to be very cautious on social media.

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  19. Terrific tips. Definitely important to follow your advice. I have one to add, when reaching out for book reviews address the person you are requesting a review from by name, not a generic form email.

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    1. Yes, just like using the name for an agent/editor, it's important to use the name of the reviewer.

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  20. Great post. Sad how many people still don't know this stuff. I do miss the days when agents would send rejection letters, though. This "no response" stuff drives me crazy! I recently nudged an agent I hadn't heard from, and he didn't remember getting a query for the manuscript at all! He requested the full.

    Sometimes it's worth a nudge.

    One other tip I would add is ignore the trolls: on your blog, Twitter feed or what have you. Engaging them just makes you look petty, and gives them the attention they want.

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    1. I agree. Not getting a response sucks. And ignoring the trolls out there is a must!

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  21. Lots of good information here. I do agree to keep your commitment, if you agree to do something, then follow through with it, no matter what it is, whether it is a guest blog post, agreeing to read a book, etc. I also agree to get likes on Facebook the old fashion way. Its like people who follow everyone's blog and expect you to follow their blog back but you may never see them again afterwards on your blog.

    betty

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    1. I agree also with the blog followers. Follow the blogs/people you really care about and visit their blog daily, or whenever they post, and they may visit back and end up following in return.

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  22. I will be reading the guidelines you send me with all diligence. (smile)

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  23. This is a great post; a very helpful reminder of the art of being polite and following instructions. I can see where dealing with the negative in regards to your creation could cause you to want to lash out or sefwns yourself. You're right, though. The beat thingto so is let it go, push fforward to your next project and so your best. As long as you do your best there's no shame in rejections. Hey, it means you're trying! That's success in itself!

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    1. "As long as you do your best there's no shame in rejections." I like that, Jen! :D

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  24. yup, I have heard so many horror stories about people replying rudely to agent rejections! nooo! why would anyone do that?!

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  25. Great tips, Chrys. I think you covered all of it! I would say that it's okay to inquire with at least one followup with editors because why not make sure it got into the right hands? It doesn't hurt to annoy those people once in a while. What's the worst thing that could happen? They reject you? That may happen without your perseverance. :)

    Always annoy them with good manners. Good manners are always in style.

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    1. Yes, checking is is fine, but be careful not to be a pain in the butt. ;)

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  26. Excellent advice, Chrys. I keep planning to blog on why I will no longer Like Facebook author pages. If the author doesn't pay, no one sees their posts. Writers have enough to do without wasting their time writing status updates to no one.

    VR Barkowski

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    1. Yes, Facebook has changed and not so many people see our posts on their anymore, but right now...I still use it.

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  27. You won't often go wrong if you read the instructions and follow them. You mentioned not using Dear Sir/Madam. Some publications don't tell you who the editor is.

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    1. You can find the name of agents in books such as Guide to Literary Agents and Writer's Market. On the agency's website it also lists the name. Same goes with editors' names. I did run across some online magazines that didn't share this, so I would put the name of the magazine and add the word "editor." Such as: "Dear Write with Fey Editor."

      Hope that helps!

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  28. I think its ok to reply back on Amazon reviews if you want to say thanks. I love it when an author replies to one of my reviews to thank me. I also really like it when an author comes to my blog and thanks me for a review. It's nice to see that interaction.

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    1. Authors are warned not to do this. Not even for a good review because many readers think it's odd, although I would be thrilled. If the author personally knows you and asked you to review the book then, yes, they will send an email to thank you, but other times it's not a good idea. Goodreads and Amazon actually tell authors not to do this in their guidelines.

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  29. I was guilty of No. 11 (the FB likes) when I started out but soon realized ... yea, not much use. These days, I only like or follow someone or an organization because I really want to hear more from them. As for thanking reviewers for their time (regardless of their reviews), I usually pop the 'like' button.

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    1. We all want to get those FB likes real bad. lol

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  30. Two things your list reminds me of: Following directions and having common courtesy. Following directions is essential to make any kind of positive impression with an agent or editor. And being courteous is so important on social media. If people can remember those two basic rules of life, they wouldn't make such obvious mistakes as they travel online.

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