- You overhear daughter's boyfriend say something rude to her - ignore or comment privately to daughter?
- Someone you don't know well has lipstick on her teeth - say something or feign oblivion?
- Acquaintance says something against your beliefs - engage in discussion or let it slide?
When it comes to author-agent and author-editor relationships, I've found the same is true. I wrestle with my questions for a bit, check with my close writing buddies to get their opinions, and if we're all still in a quandary, THEN I shoot off an email and ask. Don't misunderstand me - I will definitely get clarification on what was asked of me if I'm unsure - but I refrain from abusing the privilege. I'm succinct, polite, and direct - ask what I need to, thank them for their time, and move on. Because of this, I seem to get responses very quickly. Could be my wonderful agent's style (thank you, Eric Myers of the Spieler Agency!) and my talented editor's business acumen (Hello, Jacquelyn Mitchard of Merit Press), but I like to think it's also because I don't bother them too much.
Yes, I know authors who say "they're working for YOU," but in reality, it's a partnership. And just like every other relationship in my life, I try to follow the golden rule: Treat others the way you'd like to be treated. I don't want a slew of extraordinarily long emails filled with rambling questions, and I'm pretty sure they don't either. I'm happy to answer questions or clarify information, but I believe in the "less is more" philosophy.
How about you? Do you send off a quick email whenever you have a question, or do you wrestle with it for a bit first?
'Til next time,