Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Writer Will Take Your Questions Now (#38) -- What Is Professionalism?

In your opinion, what does it mean to be professional in the writing field?

Ah. Professionalism. Reading this post by Gail Simone started me thinking about what it means to be professional in your writing endeavors -- from the writing itself, to your business etiquette, all the way to the way you treat people at conventions and other networking events.

A few specifics sprang to mind:

1. Meet your deadlines.
2. Honor editors' and agents' time when you have their attention.
3. Honor editors' and agents' schedules when they tell you they don't have time to look at your work.
4. Use the appropriate submission methods that you find on the company's website.
5. Hone your craft.
6. Don't blame your shortcomings on a company's inability to recognize your genius.
7. Separate your fandom from your professional interactions.
8. Listen to and apply criticism. Don't throw up a wall of "they just don't get my style."
9. Communicate in a professional manner. Don't call when an email or mailing is requested. Don't call just check on the status of your pitch or submission if the guidelines don't give you that option.
10. Act professional online. Don't get into flame wars or snarky comment battles on Facebook. Anything you type can come back to haunt you.
11. Never speak ill of a publisher unless it is to protect other creators. Even then, be sure your comments are grounded and documented. Don't squabble.
12. Don't speak ill of other creators. You never know who might sign your paychecks one day.
13. Play within the parameters you are given for the job. Don't turn a sonnet into an epic opus after you sign the contract. Write the best sonnet you have in you.
14. Be golden. As in the rule. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. That's advice that never, ever goes out of style.