Nobody likes to embarrass themselves. Except for maybe some reality TV personalities. They seem to thrive on it.
But the rest of us, not so much. And editors and agents even less so.
When do the likes of us get embarrassed? When we realize a word was left out of the second page of an otherwise-excellent novel. (Seriously, I recently started a friend’s published novel; and there it was! Unbelievable!) When a book hits the bestseller list and is suddenly out of stock—everywhere. (This happened to me, once. But once was enough.) When we don’t notice the food stain on our shirt right before giving a keynote address. (Why is spaghetti always on the menu before I speak?)
And, occasionally, editors and agents are embarrassed by their authors and clients, which is never something you want to do. How does it happen? Here are three ways to embarrass an agent or editor:
- Abuse social media.
When you sign an agency or publishing agreement, you become a public figure of sorts; and you are the curator of your brand or byline. So don’t go on social media and call people out or share cringe-worthy content. Sure, I know you feel strongly about various issues; but remember you want people of widely differing viewpoints to find you, engage with you, read your work, and not be turned away by ill-considered rants or inappropriate posts.
- Fail to consult and inform.
Sure, your agent or editor said she wasn’t interested in your Sasquatch romance novel; but that doesn’t mean you should self-publish it. Publishing (and the agent-client relationship) is a partnership; and it’s an embarrassment to be pitching you or publishing you as, say, a successor to Nicholas Sparks and then discover your slasher series on Amazon.
- Reject critiques and edits.
One of the reasons it often takes me months of back-and-forth before offering to represent someone is because, in addition to helping a writer hone a book proposal to a beautiful sheen, I want to gauge how he or she responds to suggestions. I don’t want to get to the point where a client of mine is working with an editor and balking at valid points and careful edits. Editing always involves plenty of give-and-take, of course; but a writer who gets too prickly about accepting critiques and edits can embarrass the people who have championed him or her.
Is that fair? Are there other ways you’ve known a writer (yourself or someone besides Bob Hostetler) to embarrass himself, an editor, or an agent?