Author Etiquette - Reminders on Professionalism

by Jennifer 27. September 2016 09:14

For those of you who have been writing for a while, you are probably going to find yourself nodding quite a bit and maybe mentally adding a few more bullet points to our discussion. Go right ahead. In fact, if you’d like to leave comments, we’d love to hear them.


Today’s Author Etiquette is all about professionalism. Professionalism is a certain set of manners and polite actions that indicate you are an adult and a professional in your field. While it varies from place to place, there are some underlying factors such as common courtesy, minding personal and professional boundaries and not being a d*ck.


There’ve been quite a few incidents over the past few months that leave many authors with their mouths hanging open wondering what the heck happened to things such as manners and being polite. About every author has stories about unprofessional actions that they’ve witnessed. So unfortunately, it’s time for another reminder on how to act in person, in email and in social media situations.


Rule #1 of Professionalism

Mind Your Manners

When we were kids we learned several rules about interacting with other people. It’s mostly things like don’t talk with your mouth full or interrupt someone when they are speaking. But it’s also more complex than that. Manners is a guide on how to interact with people you know and don’t know. It’s a good thing to follow whether you are at a convention or at home on your own computer.


Some simple manners to follow are:

  • Respect other people’s space: This has several aspects. While some people enjoy crowds and physical contact, not everyone does. When you meet someone for the first time, wait to see if they’d like a hug or if they offer you a handshake. Watch how close you stand to someone. Most people like a little distance between them and the person next to them but some like more space. Try to watch for little clues such a someone backing away which might indicate they are feeling uncomfortable with someone in their personal space.

  • Don’t interrupt:  In a personal setting such as a conference, there are many varieties of conversations you might want to participate in and interesting people you might want to meet. It’s really easy to get carried away and barge in. However, it’s not a good idea unless you have a good reason. A polite “excuse me” in the pause of a conversation is often enough to let you slide into a conversation especially if you have more information on the subject or if you need to speak with someone.

  • Don’t say things to deliberately hurt someone:  That old adage that states “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say it at all,” should always be kept in mind. It doesn’t matter if you don’t like someone or if you don’t agree with what they are wearing or their looks, if what you say could be construed as hurtful or misinterpreted don’t say it aloud or type it publicly on social media. And always use caution when in a discussion. Expressing your opinion is great, but always remember someone out there is going to disagree with you. When discussing a subject keep the conversation on point, don’t attack the person with the opposing view and don’t feed the trolls.

  • Apologize: Everyone at some point or another has put their foot in their mouth and said the wrong thing at the wrong time. It happens. So long as it is not intentional, it can be forgiven, but you have to apologize. Do it in person or privately and as soon as possible and do be sincere.

  • Say please and thank you: This should be a no-brainer, but some people still have trouble with this one. Most children realize that please and thank you can get you a lot further than a demand, but some adults just don’t get it. Nor do they get the satisfaction of saying thank you to someone who has helped them. This is rude behaviours that are relatively easy to correct. There’s no excuse folks.

  • Share the attention: We all know someone who’s loves being in the spotlight all the time. These people like to dominate conversations and either won’t let anyone else say anything or constantly interrupt the discussion for their own gain. A simple “how are you today?” is a great opening for another person to join a conversation if they’d like to.


Rule #2 of Professionalism

Be Aware of Boundaries

The next rule of professionalism is boundaries. We aren’t talking about physical lines such as country borders or city lines, but those invisible lines that separate one person from another. Sometimes they are difficult to see but they are there.


I’ve already mentioned personal boundaries above, but let me expand a bit here. Personal space is a very real thing and standing too close can make someone feel very uncomfortable. It’s an imaginary circle around each person. Some have a very small personal space and enjoy having people close. Others prefer a very circle with lots of room. If you are unsure, stand about an arm’s length away. If someone is comfortable they’ll move in closer.


Another boundary to be aware of is professional boundaries. Unlike personal space, professional boundaries are more of a set of rules of politeness. Mostly they are things you should, may or do not do while interacting with other authors, illustrators, editors and publishers.


Some things you should do:

  • Introduce yourself and what you do

  • Exchange business cards

  • Ask if they have time to speak about business (if that is your reason for contact)

  • Listen and participate in panels and discussions

  • Go back and learn about what’s being talked about/Listen to those with experience

  • Ask where someone got something

  • When emailing, state your name, why you are emailing and if you’ve met in person


Things you MAY do (depending on the situation and people involved):

  • Hug or give other signs of affection

  • Exchange personal information

  • Politely insert yourself into a conversation

  • Respond to social media conversations in a polite manner


Things you SHOULD NOT Do:

  • Follow editor/publisher to bathroom/elevator/room to ask about rejection/critique/pitch your work

  • Touch someone without permission

  • Demand someone listen to you/tell you something

  • Get angry when author/publisher/editor/artist doesn’t have time to meet with you personally

  • Respond hatefully to a rejection (or respond at all to a rejection)


I’m sure that there’s many other things that could fill the page, but these are some that are on the top of my head today.


Now to the really fun part.


Rule #3 in Professionalism

Don’t Be a D*ck

This really should be self explanatory, but apparently it’s not. These are actions that go way beyond being rude or being socially awkward. This is behaviour that will get you blacklisted on review sites, conventions and in the publishing world. Continuation of these types of behaviors will ruin your career.


Seriously, if there’s anything on this list you are considering doing or if there’s any way people will think you are a d*ck because you did something like this. Just DON’T.*

  • Don’t ask a reviewer to make sure they are on their meds/be in a good mood/or not read your book during that time of the month.

  • Don’t threaten or pressure anyone for a good blurb or review.

  • Don’t join in conversations and derail so that it focuses on you, your personal opinion, or hurt feelings.

  • Don’t publically trash a review site or publication because you received a bad review or a rejection.

  • Don’t belittle other authors, artists or publishers because they don’t share your views or have rejected your work.

  • Don’t harassass anyone (sexually or otherwise) in person or online EVER.

  • Don’t touch, ogle, or make rude comments to cosplayers.

  • Don’t behave in a manner that is against convention or group policy.

  • Don’t complain when you act badly and then are called out for your behavior/ejected from a group/banned from event.

  • Don’t act badly and then pull the socially awkward card especially when other people know you act accordingly most of the time.

  • Don’t take advantage of other people. Especially those who may be young, impressionable or unable to determine your motives.

  • Don’t blame someone or something else for your actions.


These are all actions that are inexcusable, and we see them happen again and again. Most of these have been from the past few weeks but there are so many more. If you are doing or thinking of doing something on this list, don’t. Authors, editors and publishers speak with each other. If they hear of people acting badly and even worse see someone behaving badly, it will be taken into consideration when they receive a submission.


People should be polite to each other and work together to make the publishing world a great place for everyone. Unfortunately, some people missed the memo about being polite and/or respectful to others. With social media, it’s easier for people to misbehave. On the other hand, it’s much easier to spread the news about people being d*cks.


Remember, professional behavior is always welcome. If you aren’t sure what that means, watch and learn from many of the upstanding people in publishing. Go to a panel or class that focuses on professional behavior or on authors behaving badly. Read books on manners. Have someone go with you to social engagements to help you with social clues or look over your letters before you send them so that you can have a different viewpoint. Change any behaviours you can that are questionable. It’s difficult sometimes but being seen as a professional is important.


*If things like this have happened to you, please accept our sincere apology on behalf of all of the good people out there.


Praise for the Cross Cutting series by Wendy Hammer

by Jennifer 21. September 2016 10:22

The Thin
Starting a new series from a new author can be a scary situation, thankfully The Thin, is a well-written, fast moving, tension-filled read that leaves the reader craving more. Urban fantasy readers will enjoy this new take on Wardens and Guardians in a new setting. Plus you get a kick ass woman lead! Wendy Hammer doesn't leave you much time to guess what happens next. So if you are looking for your next quick read, I advise you to pick this one up.

The Hollow
How do you follow up a great story? Well if you are Wendy Hammer, author of the Cross Cutting series, you start with focusing on a secondary character in book 1. My only complaint was this book is over way too quickly. The quick action, development of a thing between Ache and Trinidad and the world building pulls you in quickly and doesn't let go until the end. Can't wait until book 3 comes out.


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Praise for the Karen Wilson Chronicles by Jennifer Brozek

by Jennifer 8. September 2016 10:31

Karen Wilson Chronicles
"This urban fantasy (with a little bit of a dark edge) collection is a series of connected and related short stories, but each one is complete in itself. There are gaps of time between them. Characters allude to events that have taken place in those gaps, without actively spelling any of them out. This is actually a strength of the work—we get to skip to the "good bits" without having to sacrifice the sense that there's a larger world out there where things actually take time to happen. While there's a lot of worldbuilding and some really interesting twists on classic genre themes, it feels like there's even more going on. It feels like there's a world beyond the page." —Steven Saus

Caller Unknown
"I was surprised at how well this was written. It was complete in and of itself while fitting into a series (or so it is advertised—I plan to find out by reading the series). You can read more than enough about the plot or the setting. I just wanted to confirm it is carried off well without gratuitous sex or other miscellaneous material. Two thumbs up." —S. Marsh

Children of Anu
"Seldom does an author execute storytelling with an effective immersive flair. This book was responsible for many nights lost of sleep, but well worth it. Also you will want to buy the protagonist, Karen Wilson a drink, many times. Heck I've wanted to be like, 'Here's a fifth of rum, you've gonna need it.'" —A. Mayor

"With each chapter, Keystones builds more and more tension as the characters realize everything they've worked for in the past is crumbling. And while the magical community is crumbling, Karen Wilson has to figure out a way to bring them together as one to defeat the darkness that threatens them all. Karen is a very strong character and dives the story line. Jennifer combines many characters with many different traits and flaws into her series. She's convincing enough that even non-humans such as gargoyles seem very human." —S. Hendrix

Chimera Incarnate

"Most importantly, the saga of Karen Wilson herself has come full circle. The beginning of the book sees her at her lowest point, but she manages to pull herself back from the brink. Initially, I was bummed that the Master of the City had less of a role to play in this book, but then I realized how important that was. Karen has to be her own person, not the Master’s puppet, and this book shows how far she’s come into her own in this regard.

"The author deftly ties up so many loose ends in so little time, while also introducing more interesting characters and ideas in order to heighten the tension of this last battle! The “serial novel” concept continued to work well over the course of all four books, even when so many characters and events needed to be balanced and maintained." —JL Gribble


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