I’m not a good one to give advice about manners. I’m always coming home from some event and saying, “Idiot! You were with Miss X for two hours and forgot to ask if they’ve set the wedding date?” Or “Yikes, I can’t believe I called Maddie Marcie—and I’ve known her for twenty years!” Or I realize that I rattled on about myself instead of asking about someone else, or that I didn’t read the invitation properly and wore jeans when everyone else was in cocktail dresses—and I brought a tray of stuffed jalapenos to the catered affair! Sometimes I feel like I stumble through life desperately trying to remember how to behave properly. I’d like to blame it on my mother—but at my age that wears a little thin.
A debut novelist, I have been determined to mind my pleases and thank yous. Here are a few things I think are really important:
1) Always say, or at least imply, please when you ask for a favor—whether it be asking for a blurb (groveling wouldn’t go amiss), an opportunity to guest post on someone’s blog, a bookstore or library reading, or for a review.
2) And always say thank you—even if the reply is negative. “Thank you for considering my request. Perhaps you won’t mind if I ask you again in the future.” And of course if the answer is yes, thank you, thank, thank you. Promptly--preferably the day after the request is granted.
3) No blanket requests! “Anybody out there on this list serve want to review my book? Anybody out there want to give me a blurb? Anybody out there want a guest blogger?” No, no and no. Take the time to get to know reviewers and their preferences. There is no sense in asking for a review from someone who only reviews thrillers if you’ve written Miss Marple redux. As for the blurb, only ask people you think will love your book. Don’t waste people’s time, including your own. If you want to be a guest blogger, be courteous enough to visit some blogs and see what kinds of posts they do. If you’ve written an apocalyptic zombie novel, do you really want to guest blog on a site that does crafts (unless, of course, your zombie is a knitter).
4) And speaking of blogs, I recently read a gentle protest from a prominent blogger who had had experience with people who got their guests posts in late and/or sent in odd formats and photos and/or asked for the host to edit their post. Get your blogs in early and make sure they are in pristine condition. Of course you can mention that if the host feels they need to edit something, they should feel free to do so. And then thank them for hosting you!
5) Prepare in advance for readings. And do everything you can to publicize the event, including strong-arming you family and friends. You want the bookstore or library to be really pleased they said ‘yes” to your request.
Bottom line: Assume that the time of everyone you come into contact with in the writing world is as valuable as yours is.
That’s my advice and I’m sticking to it—especially when I talk to myself!