Monday, March 19, 2012

Presenting a Professional Image – Part One

Carlie Cullen has agreed to share her thoughts on the business side of writing. It is something that many people struggle with, and unless you can master at least the basics you won't get far.
These days, authors have to work much harder to get their work in the public eye. We have to have an understanding of how to market ourselves and our books (especially those who indie or self publish); we have to network, maintain blogs and keep up a social media presence.

A great deal of this work is done behind the scenes so it doesn’t matter if you’re sitting at your computer in scruffy jeans and a sweatshirt that could double as a wash rag for your car. BUT what does matter is your attitude. Let me explain . . .

A very good friend of mine is Senior Editor for a publishing company and obviously has a large number of manuscripts to read through and give feedback on. She confided in me recently that a proportion of writers go ballistic when given constructive criticism on how to improve their work in readiness for possible publication. How professional is that?

I was pretty gobsmacked by this. If you ask someone to beta read your work or you submit it to an agent or publisher, you should be prepared and ready to accept their opinion. Let’s face it – are any of us so perfect that we can submit a flawless manuscript first time every time? No, of course we’re not. We edit and revise over and over until we think it’s the best it can be, but there’s always room for another perspective, another opinion and improvement.

My writing is precious to me; I’ve nurtured it and watched it grow from a weak seedling to a strong forest. I’ve edited and revised several times before placing it in the hands of a beta reader. Yet, am I so arrogant about my work that their views don’t count?


I know my work isn’t as perfect as I’d like it to be and I know I’m too close to it to see the flaws. That’s why I welcome critique from industry professionals.

Now don’t go thinking I’m some kind of masochist and that I get a kick out of my blood, sweat and tears being trampled on with hobnail boots. What I do get a kick out of, is receiving good, honest, constructive criticism before I take that final step and submit my work for publication. I don’t want to embarrass myself or waste an agent’s or publisher’s time by sending a pile of crap – I want my work to have a strong voice not a whimper!

So before you ask someone to beta read your work, ask yourself if you are ready to receive feedback that you may not like. If the answer is ‘no’ then don’t send it! If you can’t take constructive criticism without spitting the dummy then how professional are you being? Is your beta reader likely to want to help you in the future? Remember, publishing is a business (and a damn hard one at that) and if you can’t be professional in your business dealings then you won’t get very far.

As for me – I say, bring on the hobnail boots! I’ll listen, I’ll learn, I’ll improve, I’ll be professional and I WILL go far!

Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us Carlie!

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