Writers Must Communicate
By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin
As a child, I recall connecting two tin cans with string then using it to speak with a friend. It was a simple yet effective communication tool that we made and had fun with it. In this article, I want to highlight the importance of communication for writers.
Writers are regularly communicating to their readers, their literary agent, their editors and crafting their books, proposals, query letters, magazine articles, and many other types of writing. If your books aren't selling, then you need to be taking more action to create content and show your readers the benefits from your writing. The bottom-line is if you are a writer, you are in the communication business.
As I think about publishing, from my decades of working in it, I understand it is a business filled with noncommunication (silence) and miscommunication. When you send your material into an agent or publisher, you often don't hear any response—for weeks or months. Sometimes the way you learn "no" is through no response which is poor communication. Waiting for a response is a huge part of our lives as writers. Because publishers are slow to respond, I've always encouraged writers to simultaneously submit or send to multiple places at the same time. Admittedly when you simultaneously submit, you have to keep track of these submissions so if someone contracts a piece of writing, you have a responsibility to notify the others and withdraw it from consideration.
Because of the lack of communication in many areas of the publishing community, I've learned that if you do communicate, you will stand out as someone who is different. While the communication process isn't always easy, I use multiple ways to reach people such as email, physical mail and sometimes the telephone. I've found great value in my LinkedIn account because while people may change positions and move around within publishing, they will take their LinkedIN account with them. For my last book, I reached out to some people I had not been in communication for years. LinkedIN gave me a place to begin this process with their email address and sometimes even a phone number.
If you want to reach a particular editor or literary agent and do not hear from them, use multiple methods to reach them. If email doesn't work, then try mailing something through the US mail. If that doesn't work, see where they are speaking and plan to attend that event. Make sure you are pitching something excellent but your persistence to reach them will eventually pay off (or so I have found).
Do you have a set of boundaries about when you communicate? For example, I have colleagues at Morgan James Publishing who have decided to only answer emails Monday through Friday during their standard work hours. I understand their creation of such a boundary and respect their personal choice. I've made a different one (which many of my authors have learned). I will answer email almost any time during the day or evening. It's my personal choice and pattern and my desire to be a good communicator in a world that doesn't.
Sometimes I will review an email after I've sent it and to my horror find some typographical errors. I'm imperfect in this communication process yet determined to take my own responsibility and continue to press forward and learn to be a good communicator. My emails don't have to be lengthy but they do have to be clear and timely.
What steps are you taking to be a good communicator? Let me know in the comments below.
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