The writing world does not consist solely of writers. There are many peripheral trades connected with writing, such as editing, covert art, promotion, marketing etc, and this means that if you are either a writer, or someone in one of these peripheral trades, you will at some point be working with someone else in the business in some capacity. If you’re a writer/author, you might want to hire an editor, a cover artist, a marketing consultant or some other expert to help you. Similarly, if you’re in one of these peripheral trades, you will be trying to sell yourself to writers/authors in the hope that they will hire you.
Once you get to the point of working with another person, whether for money or some other form of remuneration (experience or portfolio etc), you really should be putting certain good business practices into effect. Many don’t, and as far as I’m concerned, it is unacceptable and inexcusable. There are so many people out there all trying to sell their service, it’s no hardship to turn you down and look elsewhere if you don’t come up to par with basic good business practices.
If you’re working for an author, even if it’s to increase your experience, expand your portfolio, for a review, rather than money, you owe them a certain standard of behaviour. Here are two of the most often overlooked things.
Remember you’re working for them, not the other way around.
If you’re an editor, marketing consultant, cover artist, proof reader etc, the writer/author is your customer and you should be grateful they have decided to ask you for a service thousands of others also offer. Never act as if you’re doing them a favour by agreeing to work for/with them, there are many others doing what you do.
Keep in touch with them often or lose their business.
This is a big bugbear of mine. If you agree to work for an author, then you owe them regular updates. It simply is not good enough to agree to the work, and then not get in touch for weeks on end. They won’t know if you’re actively working on their project, whether you’ve forgotten, gone on holiday, decided you don’t want to do it after all, or what the hell is going on, so you should tell them. Even if you have no update to give, keep in touch just to let them know you’re still working on their project at the very least, twice a week.
I’ve had people agree to work for me, then I heard nothing for weeks, and when I finally emailed to ask what was going on, I got “oh I’m sorry, I’m too busy to do it after all.” ARGH..! Remember, if you behave like this, we will be only too happy to let others know of our experience working with you.
I’ve been party to many conversations with authors where the subject has been the bad business practice of one or more of these peripheral tradespeople, and it angers me to have been a victim myself. It simply is not good enough, and despite the ethos of anonymity the internet offers us, good manners go a long way.