Blogger: Janet Kobobel Grant
Location: Books & Such Main Office, Santa Rosa, Calif.
As I was saying in my blog post yesterday, you can communicate not only inappropriate items to your publisher but, in addition, you can communicate too often. I’m in the middle of straightening out a publisher-author fracas because the publisher is just plain weary of hearing from the author. Every day, apparently, the author had new questions to ask about marketing/publicity, when the next contract might be offered, how the last manuscript turned in was received, etc.
The publisher, weary of being barraged with emails, came to me and said, “We give up. We’ve tried to be responsive, but really, we can’t devote this amount of time to answering one author’s questions.”One of the great aspects of having an agent is that the publisher depends on the agent at such relationally-defining moments to step in and sort through the mess. Because, trust me, the publisher and the author have very different views of how the communication misfired.
The sad truth is that some agents won’t try to sort through the tangle. He or she believes the agent’s job ends when the contract is signed. At our agency, we believe the agent’s job is never done, even when no more money is coming from a project. We want to oversee the author’s career, and that includes taking care of relationship snafus.
What can we learn from my client’s mistake? That the publisher does not appreciate hearing from authors too often. If an author sends a nonstop stream of e-mails, even if they’re to different people at the publishing house, that author soon becomes thought of as a problem.
The author is seen either as way too insecure (and needing too many assurances) or way too pushy (and hoping that being pushy will result in more marketing/publicity or editorial feedback). But the publisher will hold an author at arm’s length in such instances, and the publisher will always win because the author needs the publisher more than the publisher needs the author.
If you think you’re over-communicating, consult with your agent, or ask your editor if the in-house folks think they’re hearing too often from you. Let it be known that you want to be sensitive to how much communication should take place.
If you have lots of issues to clarify, collect them over several days, put them in categories (marketing, publicity, editorial issues) and then send emails targeted to the best person for each category.
Can you think of a time someone has over-communicated with you? (Like maybe your toddler…) How did you respond? What would have made the relationship work better at that point? How might that apply to an author’s relationship with her or his publisher?