Wednesday, March 28, 2012

How's Your Crystal Ball Working?

What has happened to communication between authors and publishers?  I love the feeling of a brand new house, when everyone feels like family and the exchange of information flows as freely as a mountain stream. Now, it seems we're expected to be mind readers or seers and know what goes on behind the scenes.  Guessing usually doesn't provide a good outcome, so it's best to hear right from the horse's mouth...or that person risks becoming known as the other end.   *grin*

Communication isn't just verbal as you can see by the handy-dandy chart I've borrowed.  In this industry, email becomes our main source of knowledge, so how it's delivered says a lot about personalities and how much you care about someone and their needs.  Tone is absent from our worded missives, so if you've left someone in the dark, let their impatience fester, and generally given them a "who gives a crap" impression, then you can bet, they aren't going to read your list of excuses for not responding with any sort of understanding and compassion.  A few little lines can help calm the stormy seas and maintain peace and tranquility.

Remember that new family feel I described above? Yeah, well advance a year or so, and the house has signed so many new authors, the pressure becomes unbearable, and the publisher sinks into the background, perhaps buried by stacks we authors can't see or fathom.  Communication lags, people complain on the loops, tempers flare and people grow more impatient by the moment.  The family you enjoyed earlier on now becomes dysfunctional.  What could have resolved this problem?  A simple attempt to communicate the issues the publisher faces.  I'd rather get an email that says something like this:

I hope you'll all understand if I haven't responded to your needs in the past few weeks, but I'm overwhelmed by _______(insert excuse here), and as soon as I unbury my desk, I'll get to my backlog of author requests.  Please know that you are very important to me and I'm not ignoring you, just trying to keep my head above water.

But instead, we are usually the recipients of a scathing email from a fed-up, burned out, pissed-off person who aims her anger at everyone on the loop.  Or in the case of one publisher...she took down the loop entirely because she didn't like the group discussing things amongst themselves.  Didn't she know we have access to email each other privately?  Again, a simple communication effort could have avoided the problem and speculation that comes with silence.  People aren't mind readers.  They don't know what's going on in your world unless you let them in.

So, I guess the goal of this post is to encourage people to try two things....patience and communication.  Where one is absent, the other will work for a time, but even the Good Lord expects results within a certain time-frame.  I'm a patient person if I know why I'm being patient, but more than anything, I hate having my requests go ignored and speculating 'why me.'  I think communication is key. How about you?


Paula Martin said...

Agree completely with everything you've said, Ginger. Maybe we have the same publisher??

sashagirl said...

Yes, communication is the key. But over my long career I've seen this problem so many times in so many forms. I've had my share of publishers ignoring me (hey, it was far worse in the good-old legacy publishing days....they were always so arrogant and if your books weren't selling they'd ignore your letters and phone calls COMPLETELY. Once a publisher actually dumped my book 6 weeks before it went to the shelves...and didn't even tell me!I had to find out weeks later the hard way.). Through it all I try to remember that even publishers (or authors) are just human beings and they have their pop-up problems, burn out, tragedies, over whelmed with the work load, and...well, you get the idea. I think of it like this: Sometimes life just gets in the way. I always try to see the other side and give them a benefit of a doubt. An author needs to go with the flow sometimes. Last resort: I pick up the phone and call them. That usually works. Kathryn Meyer Griffith

Erin said...

I hear you, Ginger! Speaking to the choir...
It's why I self-publish now. Never being answered, being yelled at when they did answer me, and being treated like duck droppings really sealed the deal for me! LOL
Yes, if they just sent a mass communication I would have felt a little bit better about being ignored. Still, two simple lines directed to me would have been greatly appreciated. Even a tweet.

Ginger Simpson said...

*lol* @Paula. Maybe we do.

Kathryn...I've been doing this for a number of years too, and have been with several different publishers. Some horrid, some who actually try. I'm not indicating that publishers aren't human. I've gone beyond "benefit of the doubt" many times, but I've even had phone calls ignored. I know life gets in the way, and that certainly was demonstrated in my blog, I believe. I still think anyone can find the time to type three lines, or even fix an auto-response so that people don't feel ignored. Common sense and courtesy goes a long way. Just my take on things. :)

Erin...I think, just like you, dealing with inept publishers is what has driven so many authors to self-publish...secondary only to money, of course. *smile* Like I said in my response to Kathryn...even a auto-response message would be better than nothing at all. :)

Pat Dale said...

As the old saying goes, if all else fails, try to communicate. Well, it went something like that. I agree totally, and you know I've recently taken action to hook up with folks who do communicate. Cover's ready, book's ready, this weekend we're a go. Wow, what a difference!

Lorrie said...

I agree with you 100%. If a publisher ever ignores me (I haven't had this problem yet) I will certainly never submit another peice of my work to them.

I know they are human and overwhelmed, but we authors are who make the publishers. If not for us, they would be out of buisness.
We need a bit of consideration too.

At least post on the loop as to why, or as you said, send an automated email at least.

Anonymous said...

nice opinion.. thanks for sharing...

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