8 Ways to Develop a
Positive Reputation as an Author
©Dawn Carrington - All Rights
With each book that is
accepted for publication, you take one more step toward your dream—becoming a self-supporting, fully
established author whose name is well-known and whose books are cherished. But along the way toward your dream,
there are a few pitfalls which could not only inhibit your career but tarnish your reputation. Just as you
wouldn’t want to become known as a troublesome employee, you don’t want to develop a reputation as the author
from…well, you know.
So with each step you take,
you must make a choice to be the same person you’ve always been, or even, become a better you. Hopefully, you
won’t make the following choices as they can and will create an image of a less than desirable author.
Don’t fight with your editor on every edit.
As much as we hate
them, edits are a necessary evil in this industry. Even if you think your book is polished until it gleams like
Mr. Clean’s gold earring, an editor is going to discover ways to make it better. He or she will help you clean
up flowery prose, sweep away mechanical and typographical errors, and add commas where they’re supposed to
No, you won’t agree
with everything your editor suggests, and that’s where diplomacy comes in. Just as you would, hopefully,
discuss an issue with a co-worker, you should discuss your concerns with your editor and work toward a
Don’t continually demand more than what is afforded you in your contract.
Before you sign away
the rights to your book, know what the trade-off will be. Once you’ve informed yourself, understand that the
contract is a valid, legal document. You can’t expect more than what is specified in your contract, and while
you can certainly ask for additional benefits, do not expect them. It’s unfair to the publisher and will create
dissension that’s unnecessary and potentially detrimental to your career.
Don’t talk negatively about your current publisher.
Okay, so something has
occurred. Maybe your release date has been pushed back a couple of times, your editor lost your edits, and you
can’t seem to get her to e-mail you back. As much as the eighth grader in you wants to start singeing the
publisher by posting vicious comments all across the world wide web, please think about your actions very
Anything you send out into cyberspace will remain in written form for all the world to see for a very long
time. There’s no taking back the words, and they will be available for any publisher/editor/agent to see. Do
you really want a potential publisher to see that you trashed your current publisher because you didn’t agree
with something that was going on? What are the odds that you’re going to agree with everything your publisher
does? Do you agree with everything your friends do? Your spouse does?
Just remember that the words you write can come back to haunt you, and that, in spite of how large the
publishing industry seems to be, it really does have a back fence and a grape vine.
Don’t assume you know it all.
You’ve written a book,
possibly two or more, and while the world congratulates you, it understands that you have not learned all the
intricacies of the publishing industry or writing itself. You still have things to learn. You will always have
things to learn. So assuming your publications mean you’ve achieved the ultimate in knowledge is not only a bad
assumption, but it can also lead to an overactive ego.
While there’s nothing
wrong with sharing the knowledge that’s gotten you to where you are, you don’t want to present yourself as the
be-all and end-all of knowledge, the Wizard, if you will. You need to leave room for the possibility that you
don’t know everything there is to know in this business.
We’ve all seen those
people who pop up everywhere on the Internet and television who have an opinion on every topic and believe that
opinion is fact. Now, think of how irritating that person is. Is that the impression you want your readers and
other authors to have of you?
Don’t discuss other authors negatively.
While it’s entirely
possible there will be authors you meet that you don’t click with--it may be one of the know-it-alls as
discussed above—I can’t stress enough that letting the world know what you think of that person isn’t the best
career move you can make. So if you have an opinion about another author, it’s best to keep it to yourself.
Forums, blogs, and
websites offer content about authors, everything from reviews to rants, and it’s easy to get wrapped up in the
rumors and gossip taking place, even easier to log in and state your opinion. But is it really that important
for the world to know what you think about an author? Important enough to risk your reputation?
Don’t continually boast to readers and other authors about your contest wins and how well you’ve
When an author wins an
award, places in a contest, and receives great reviews, it’s only natural that he/she will want to announce
these successes to the world. There’s nothing wrong with being proud of yourself for these accomplishments, and
to a certain extent, some back-patting is encouraged. However, there does come a time when the constant
reminder of your successes becomes overbearing and pretentious. Plainly put, how many times do you think your
readers need to know your book placed second in a contest three years ago?
Don’t talk negatively about your previous publishers in query letters.
When submitting a query
letter to a new publisher, an agent, or an editor, you should never speak negatively about any publisher
regardless of what might have happened. Why? Because you don’t know who knows who in this business, and the
last thing you want to do is come across as someone who likes to talk about others.
You want to put your
best foot forward in any type of correspondence with potential publishers or agents, and conducting yourself in
a professional manner is paramount.
Don’t tell agents/publishers about the difficulties you’ve had with an publisher/agent.
While it’s entirely
possible you will experience difficulties with a publisher or an agent during your career as an author, it is
not necessary for you to detail those difficulties when you approach a new contact in the industry. You may be
thinking the agent should know you believe you’re being black-balled, but, in all honesty, no publisher is
going to take the time to attempt to destroy your career, at least not a legitimate one.
Whatever you do, don’t
create a negative image of yourself by unloading all of your bad experiences onto a potential agent. Most
likely, you will send that agent running for the hills. After all, how can he/she know you won’t discuss them
in the same manner should something not go your way?
We can’t control everything
that happens to us in life, but we can control who we become. The price of success should not be your
reputation. Protect it as much as you do your copyrights.
About the Author: Currently the editor-in-chief of Vintage Reflections Publishing (www.vrpublishing.com), Dawn resides in the beautiful Lowcountry of South Carolina.