Thursday, December 3, 2015

The Importance of Follow Through

Professionalism is important in this business. It's actually important in pretty much everything we do around the world. And yet, for some reason, we have really become a society that struggles with part of this element, namely communications and follow through. We see this from all sides of the equation. Those who contact a business (or in this case and editor or agent) and the follow through from the editors and agents. 

I want to look at this from both sides of the equation today. First looking when writers don't hear back from editors and/or agents. And then, secondly, what we see as editors and agents and the follow though by writers.

In a February 2014 article by Jacquelyn Smith in Forbes magazine, she noted an interesting statistic about not hearing back AFTER and interview. .

According to a 2013 CareerBuilder study among 3,991 employees, 60% said they’ve experienced this as a job candidate.

I had actually heard a higher number on my local news broadcast of up to 75%. Personally, I was shocked by this. These are people who actually interviewed for a job. They had made it through the initial screening so, apparently, they were taken seriously.

Now, Smith notes several reasons for this in the business world. She references Amy Hoover who states:

sometimes employers get overwhelmed with the communication process

She also refers to David Parnell, a legal consultant who notes:

"...there are generally three primary ingredients to the radio silence an interviewee experiences after their meeting, assuming we are talking about a savvy employer. “One, ‘he’s just not that into you,’” he says. “Two, bandwidth is precious and needs to be spent on more pressing issues, like more competitive candidates. And three, the potential risk for providing specific, negative feedback is much higher than the potential reward.”

This may be the case with many of the editors and agents out there. In reality, for many of them, they are simply deluged with so much work and so little time, that sometimes things get over-looked. This is, unfortunately, human nature. 

Now, when it comes to agents, I do know I have heard some who have openly stated "silence means no." This is not the norm, however, so there might be something more going on. In reality, it is probably the fact that things got busy and they just didn't get to it. For myself, there have been times when I have shifted requested material to my iPad for reading and then just forgot I had done that. The submission was not showing up as UNREAD in my email so it was over-looked. In other cases, I recorded it as having a response sent, but just didn't (not sure why on this one).

What can you do as an author? Just let us know. Give us the time we said we would get back to you and then send us a quick nudge. We won't get angry. Just a quick, "Hey, just checking in." Use the email you sent the first time , or if you got a quick reply back from the editor, use that one. And remember:
  • Be polite.
  • Provide the material a second time. 
  • Be polite.
  • Reference what they said on a response
  • Be polite.
Now, let's talk about that follow through on the part of the authors. 

I know I have mentioned this before on the blog, but we are always amazed at the number of authors who just don't send in projects after we request the material. If I remember right, I have heard a statistic that stated only 30% send in projects. Wow!

Again, I have heard a lot of reasons for this:
  • I wan't ready to send it or pitch
  • I was still editing
  • I changed my mind.
  • I heard from someone else.
Regardless of the fact, take the time to follow through. If you changed your mind, that's fine. It won't hurt our feelings. But, if we took the time to read your project, only to find out AFTER that you never were interested, this is, in pretty casual language, "un-cool."

Now, let's say that an editor or agent is interested in seeing more and you are not quite ready to send it. We can work with that too! Give us a date of when we will see this. This not only shows your professionalism, but gives us a heads up to clear our desk for when that prized manuscript shows up. 

The nice thing is, since we are living in an electronic age, clicking "reply" on the email is not that hard. And, who knows? Maybe that small bit of professionalism is enough to "keep you in the game."

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