3/10/08

Talk to Me, Please!

Do you have suggestions for ways authors can improve communications with their publishers?

Hmmm, do you mean how can you communicate with them? Or how do you get them to communicate with you?

Some publishers/editors are lousy communicators—they rarely return phone calls or e-mails, and when they do, they don't give satisfactory answers. This stinks. It shouldn't happen. Communicating with the author is part of their job and they should do so in a professional and timely manner. If your publisher/editor is a bad communicator, there is probably nothing you can do about it. Sorry.

Some authors have unrealistic expectations of the time a publisher/editor can spend with them. I have authors who call once or twice a week and want to spend an hour talking about the problems they're having with their current work in progress. This is very inappropriate and, I confess, I often duck their calls. I have others who call regularly to see if the edit is done, how many pages have been typeset, if the files are at the press yet... This is inappropriate too.

But assuming you are a professional and realistic author and you're working with a professional and responsible publisher/editor, just ask them what their expectations are. Do they prefer phone calls or e-mails? What is their average response time? What types of communications do they want from you? (Example, I want to know when my authors are doing marketing/promo activities so I can help support those.) If both parties are reasonable, it shouldn't be too hard to work something out.

4 comments:

William Morris said...

I'd like to throw out an additional question for editors:

What type of information/milestones do you tend to convey to the author? What's the minimum (or happy medium) that authors should expect?

And the flip side for authors:

What types of communications do you receive from editors/publishers that you especially appreciate?

Christine Thackeray said...

I was a little frustrated at the beginning of my editting process because my editor didn't give me a realistic timetable of when she was planning to begin to edit my book until I asked her point blank, but once that was clarified, it was great.

Next time I'd like to know dates upfront. The actual editting went really smoothy and only took my two days. It was great.

Traci Hunter Abramson said...

I have been extremely fortunate for my last couple of novels that my editors typically communicate rather quickly when I e-mail a question to them. Occasionally when I need to talk out a plot or character problem, I call on the phone, but I try to keep the phone calls to a minimum. Editors have such incredibly busy days that I don't want to impose heavily on their time when an e-mail will suffice.

Rebecca Talley said...

My publisher and editors have been great communicators. They answer emails almost immediately and have given me all the information I've needed. I appreciate how effectively they've communicated with me.