6 minutes reading time (1205 words)

Author Etiquette – Some helpful advice - Part 1 by Georgie Donaghey.

Dear Ms Lawyer,

I have a pending legal matter that needs urgent attention.I know you are no doubt busy with other cases but I believe reading through my 20,000 word complaint, providing detailed feedback as to what action I need to take should take you no more than a day or two. As you have undoubtedly dealt with dozens of these cases providing the answers I need should be just a matter of repeating previously supplied information and no need to charge me.

Signed: Maurice Moocher

Dear Mr Plumber,

Please help! I am experiencing a plumbing problem in my bathroom. Well a problem is an understatement there is water everywhere accompanied by other matter that really has no other place than down the drain. Yuck! I'm sure you will agree this is an emergency situation and I appreciate you dropping everything to come and repair the problem.I trust that as it is urgent and clearly a stressful situation for me you will find it within your heart to fix it free of charge.

Signed: Lola Leech

Believe it or not some people expect to secure services for free. No industry is immune including the children's writing industry! Let me explain…

During my time in this industry, over 15 years, I have had the privilege of working with and assisting a number of blossoming authors and illustrators. I have learned many valuable lessons and endeavoured to share my experiences with others in the industry.

In 2011 I founded Creative Kids Tales to fill a need in the children's writing industry and assist those working towards publication.Fast forward to today; lots of blood, sweat, tears and time have been invested to make it the industry recognised site it is today.

Countless hours are spent each week ensuring the site is up-to-date. We are constantly promoting and cultivating new ideas to keep the site fresh for you.

It's a fact of life with any service that is provided, you will always find a number of 'takers'.

Takers = people who believe they should receive goods/services for minimal outlay, either money or their time just like Maurice Mooch and Lola Leech.

Don't get me wrong, the majority of the writing community is supportive, but there are a few who expect everything to be handed to them. I guess it's the same with anything in life, but sadly the number of 'takers' are on the rise.

Here's one example: Someone recently expressed their disappointment when I had not secured them a publishing contract during their 1st year of membership with CKT. This person had only made one submission and had not utilised CKT's services to their fullest potential. This member had done nothing to promote themselves or their work. They told me the minimal membership fee of $30 we charge per year was purely for our financial gain. They also said 'we were not offering enough to the writing community'. They then threatened to take us to the Department of Fair Trading.

Sadly, this is becoming all too familiar. Some of the comments I've received would astound you, including threats to my family.

Creative Kids Tales is here purely to assist you with your creative journey. We are not agents, publishers and certainly do not make promises that we will make you the next JK Rowling. You need to work with us and not expect us to do all the work. Together we are a team!

I am a full-time working mother of three young children. My daily two-hour train commute and lunch hours are spent doing CKT updates, posting reviews, promoting our emerging authors and illustrators on social media. I respond to emails as soon as I get home and then again after my kids have gone to bed. My writing time has dwindled to almost nothing, yet I continue to promote those within the industry I love, and yes, it is my choice to do it. But the small minority who choose to expect the world and personally attack me when their unrealistic expectations are not met have left me questioning whether it is all worth it.

Our membership fees do not cover our time or running expenses. We reinvest them back into the website and for prizes, postage and initiatives we offer. We are continually introducing new features and keeping the site fresh for our members and visitors.

However, this post is about author etiquette, and now you have a bit of a background on why I have sought feedback from some of my colleagues and what led to sharing this information with you.

Here are some Do's and Don'ts when asking for assistance in the children's writing industry.

I have lost count of the many times I have been sent a submission or hundred to read.

Despite stating clearly on our website and on various pages that Creative Kids Tales are not publishers, we receive copious amounts of manuscripts from people who don't want to book an assessment through our Manuscript Assessment service, but instead request for us to just take a quick read through their submission, edit it and provide feedback. Itemised comments in track changes are almost always requested.

I have even received phone calls, asking if I can read 'just this one'.For some reason, these people feel I can accomplish reading, editing and providing detailed feedback in only five minutes. I wish I were that good!

On rare occasions I have obliged, only to receive abusive emails. Very rarely have I received a 'thank you.'In fact, in most instances, I never hear from the person again. Just like with Ms Lawyer and Mr Plumber; you wouldn't expect them to offer their services for free, so why should an author or an editor?

This brought me to some interesting topics of discussion with my peers. I was sure I wasn't the only one receiving these requests, so I started to ask around.

Social Media Promotion

Don't promote your book on other author's Facebook pages unless you are invited to do so.

Always ensure you seek the approval of the owner of that page first.

It is the fastest way to be unfriended, ruin your credibility and guarantee one less buyer at your book launch.

Another don't is to constantly promote your book through social media. Your friends love the fact that you have a book published, they love it even more when you have a second, third and so on published but the most infuriating thing is when an author promotes, promotes, promotes their work by shoving it in your face. They stop at nothing to promote their work even finding ways to intertwine their publications into the conversation of sometimes unrelated matters. This is a known as 'book bullying' and one that swiftly turns your once supporters into abandoners.

Website Promotion

If someone promotes your work or interviews you on their website, be courteous and offer them a reciprocal link on your own site.

Perhaps you could interview them in return.

Help by sharing the interview link on your website, or social media outlets.

Do all you can to help promote the article or interview.

Try to share it in as many places as you can without pushing it in people's faces.

Perhaps you have contacts the interviewer doesn't and this could open doors for both of you.

The children's writing industry wheel turns smoother and faster when we all support one-another.

Look for part 2 on Author Etiquette soon.

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Wednesday, 17 July 2024

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