The Importance of Reputation

Rachelle Gardner

Blogger: Rachelle Gardner

As an author, it’s good to be aware that when an agent takes you on, and when an editor is interested in acquiring you, they’re putting their reputations on the line for you and your book.

We’re all salespeople. You have to sell your book to an agent. The agent has to sell to an editor. The editor has to sell it to the Pub Board, including the sales team. The sales team has to sell it to bookstores. Bookstores have to sell it to customers. All down the line, your book is being sold.

All salespeople rely on their good reputation to get them in the door to be able to sell in the first place.

For the editors, their credibility hangs in the balance with each proposal they bring to Pub Board. It’s the same with agents. My reputation amongst the editors is at stake every time I submit a manuscript. The last thing I want is for them to start thinking, “Oh no, another proposal from her.” It’s the same with the sales reps who sit in front of the buyers at Barnes & Noble and Sam’s Club.

That’s one of the many reasons we’re so careful in choosing the books we want to champion. Each book reflects on us personally and professionally.

This is especially important for you as an author.

The way you present yourself on social media will affect your reputation. Do you engage your audience with interesting things to say, or are you always promoting? Are you strident in your political views, or do you welcome conversation? It makes a difference.

Who your agent is will reflect on you. The quality of each successive manuscript will affect your reputation and ability to keep getting published. Your sales numbers may have an impact on your reputation. And if you acquire a reputation for being a pain in the patootie to work with, that will affect you, too.

We all need to pay attention to how our actions of today will affect our ability to do business tomorrow.

Glass, china, and reputations are easily cracked, and never well mended.
~Benjamin Franklin

Have you given any thought to managing your reputation, and intentionally working to build a good one?

Image copyright: ljupco / 123RF Stock Photo

28 Responses

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  1. Great post, Rachelle, on a vital topic. I’ve seen a lot of blogging writers change their rep – in my eyes – over time. Some for the better, most for the worse.
    * First, though, I’d like to thank all who have been offering prayers on my behalf. I’ve got more ‘morphine or a bullet’ days than not, now, and this has caused me to cut back on social media interaction – which is all I have. Knowing that I’m still in someone’s thoughts does mean a lot.
    * I’ve never concerned myself with reputation; I was educated in a school that expected me to grow up a gentleman, following the tenets of decency, good taste, honour, and fair play. To step out of the stream, as it were, and consider one’s outward appearance would have been gauche.
    * Of late, though, I have come to realize that unsparing honesty is another of the cultured virtues, and this is, at times, quite difficult. One naturally has a certain pride; how, then, does one write of the debility and embarrassment that come with ever-worsening illness? As an individual, I find it very hard, and emotionally taxing; as a gentleman, it is simple duty to spread my metaphorical coat over the puddles to allow those behind me more comfortable, if not drier, passage.
    * In conclusion, I do not know my reputation; I will continue to write the truth as I experience it, and to send the words out with the only eternal currency…all the love in my heart.

  2. Terrance Leon Austin says:

    Thank you Rachelle. I noticed my careless interactions in meaningless back and forth on social media sites a while ago. Since then, I have begun a purge of all posts and connections that could hinder my writing platform. I didn’t think reputation was important years ago. Nowadays, I learn from business professionals like Books and Such and other agencies that a “Good name is to be chosen over great riches…
    Excerpt from The Book of Proverbs, Holy Bible.
    Thanks again. Have a good and productive work week.🙂

  3. Carol Ashby says:

    Having a miniscule social media footprint is a huge disadvantage in terms of friend numbers, but it makes safeguarding your reputation easier. I mostly avoided posting on social media before I retired, and I didn’t have to do any cleanup of anything I’d posted and very little of what others had posted to keep my Facebook timeline from reflecting poorly on me. Facebook for Dummies taught me a lot about handling who can see/do what at my timeline. I can easily imagine how some of the people I know well could try to post material that would offend my Christian friends. Not good for a writer of Christian historicals. I think my settings prevent that, but I guess time will tell.

    But reputation is more than social media presence. I want to be known as reliable, hard-working, honest, kind, loving, and faithful to God. It’s always been important to make intentional choices that support the reputation I long to have, and it always will be. Social media hasn’t changed that; it’s only made it easier to mess up in full view of many more people.

  4. James 3:1
    Not many of you should become teachers [writers], my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach [write] will be judged more strictly.
    * We write to teach, do we not?

  5. Jenny Snow says:

    Great post, Rachelle. I struggle with the balance between being authentic and professional. My authentic self is a bit of a goofball. But what might make some laugh out loud could make others wrinkle their noses in dislike or confusion. For example, April Fool’s day, I posted about “finally completing the family booger mural.” My husband laughed, but my mom said she didn’t get it. So I deleted. I’m not necessarily trying to write humor, anyway. Any thoughts?

  6. Wise words, Rachelle. If we stopped to think about it we would all know that an agent is putting her reputation on the line for us and our book. But slowing down enough to realize this doesn’t always happen. I’ve been forced to carefully consider what I do online because we work at a Bible camp. I would hate for my hasty words to reflect badly on such a wonderful ministry. I did get in an argument about whether or not it was legal to go over the speed limit in the passing lane in order to pass another car. My firm conviction that one is supposed to pass others at exactly 60MPH in the left lane did not earn me any friends and I think that is the last time I got riled up online. It is just not worth it and of course, even my children are certain that my driving is much too cautious. Ah, well.

    • Jenny Snow says:

      I agree, Kristen. It’s usually just not worth it. Reading all the disrespectful arguing, insults, and sarcasm on social media can really sink your emotions. But if we really feel led to weigh in, it must be with love and respect which takes a lot of time to convey. (At least for me.)

  7. This is such a good post. I’m grateful you mentioned the fact that agents are staking their reputations on their clients. And editors do the same when they acquire a book, and hence, the author. We need to remember the truth you shared that today’s actions will impact tomorrow’s business decisions (especially of others considering working with us).
    *I am thankful for the wise advice I’ve read here and elsewhere about being careful what we post on social media. I choose not to get into inflammatory “discussions” on social media. Rather, I hope I’m conveying grace and uplifting content in the places where I post. I guess I need to consider more what I want my reputation to be (besides—hopefully—being easy to work with).

  8. Mary Kay Moody says:

    Thank you, Rachelle. ‘Tis good for this writer to remember that you all are not just offering us time and talent, but your reputation as well.

    With a background of working in fields that abound with controversy (domestic violence, court advocacy, policing, and politics), I fight the urge to engage in contentious debates on social media. As Carol said, it’s easy to mess up in the public forums.

  9. It was a strange sensation as I read through this post, because it reminded me of the various gangster movies I’ve seen in which one person will “vouch” for another, and by so doing, link their reputations. If an agent “vouches” for me, and then I behave badly, suddenly both our our reputations are sullied. When we are on social media, we are (as Peter might put it) among the pagans, and we need to be mindful to “keep our behavior excellent” (1 Pet. 2:12) so that God may be glorified by the very people who wish to slander us.

  10. I was blessed with a ridiculously strong case of Ineedapprovalitis when I was young. So I try to make everyone happy.
    I also try and employ my Cringe-dar on social media. The gauge for this is almost instant on Facebook. I never cease to be astounded when someone posts something like “I love cats” and then 29 people rant about how the person obviously hates dogs, that people who love cats are known Communists, and that real women don’t shave their legs.
    Also, I try and think of it this way, if you wouldn’t say it to Jesus, don’t say it on Facebook.