Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Writing With An Attitude of Integrity


by Cindy Sproles @CindyDevoted

My agent recently landed a new book contract for me. Jumping around the house shouting woo-hoo aside, I regained my composure and re-read the note the acquisitions editor send to my agent.

“…a wonderful author to work with…” “…willing to do what we ask on marketing…” “…we enjoyed working with her…”

Throughout the note, the acquisitions manager continued to remark on “this author’s willingness.” Though I was humbled by her kind words, something from Liz Curtis Higgs trickled back to mind. She said as she spoke at a conference, “Who wants to work with a person who thinks they are the be-all, end-all when there are authors out there who have a spirit-filled heart?”

Those words spoke volumes to me and I have remembered them for years. Who wants to work with a person who thinks they are the be-all, end-all? The answer is simple – no one! Being a willing author, and one with a teachable heart is something we can all do. We simply have to want to do it.

I believe in teaching loving truth to conferees and the truth is, a bad attitude will prevent the advancement of your writing career. God has blessed me to stand on both sides of the publishing table – one as an author and the other as a managing editor. The marriage of these two things has driven home the vital importance of being an author with a willing and teachable spirit. Integrity is more than honesty. It’s your outward and inner attitude. It’s how you treat others. How you respond to hardship, trials, and change. Integrity is dependability and it’s the combination of all these things that label you an author of integrity. 

How does attitude affect your career? Like any job, there are folks in the line of authority who need cooperation. If you harbor a bad attitude or if you are a demanding author who stomps your feet at every turn, folks dread working with you. Before you know it, you gain a less attractive label. Unfortunately, one that will follow you just as close. 

Here are some things to stick in your author toolbox that will help you maintain the title, an author of integrity.

Open minds invite cooperation: In a world where self-publishing on Amazon has primed writers to do all their own work, a certain attitude surfaces when those writers sign a traditional publishing contract. Once you’ve set at the steering wheel, it’s hard to scoot over to the passenger seat. When we self-publish, especially in areas like Amazon, we’re forced to learn what I call, fix and slap, publishing. In other words, we learn to quickly fix things and slap them together forgetting that there is a level of professionalism required to attain a product that looks…well, not self-published. (Let me qualify this statement. When you self-publish through a company that takes the reins but allows you full creative ability, it’s different than when you are at the helm, punching and prodding your way through a maze of stuff alone. There are amazing self-publishing companies available who will help you through the steps.) Moving into the traditional publishing world, removes your hands-on approach and requires you to submit to deadlines, publisher requirements, and qualified editors – folks who have years of experience. When you are asked to loosen whitened knuckles so others can take the wheel, sometimes the attitude gets a little touchy. Possessive. You are no longer the driver. You are now a passenger. Have an open mind and trust your publisher knows what is best for your novel. Cooperate for a superb finished product.

Willingness invites participation: When you enter the traditional publishing world, remember you have a team behind you who wants nothing more than a huge success for you. Be willing to trust their years of experience. Allow them to move a project ahead, even if it may not be exactly as you imagined. You may have a picture in your mind for a cover, but the marketing team, who spends hundreds of hours researching titles, photos, colors, and fonts understands what draws a reader’s eye to your book on the shelf. They can produce an eye-catching cover that doesn’t look like the pictures were cut from a magazine and pasted to the front, one that shows readable fonts in colors that don’t look like you’ve melted a Crayola crayon and dropped it on the page. Be willing. 

Be timely: Meet deadlines on time. Though publishers are willing to move deadlines in the event of uncontrollable issues, remember it’s not a simple process to just change a date. Your book is one of many in the pipeline and when you move or miss a deadline, you are disrupting the work of everyone’s predetermined timelines from editing to marketing, to quality control. Make every effort to put edits and deadlines at the top of your priority list. Never wait until you put yourself in a position that causes missed deadlines.

Work through the proper protocol: Because we are human, there are times we run upon disagreements with our editors. Keep in mind your editor is not your enemy. It’s their job to help you and the publisher come out with a successful book. But occasionally we hit a snag that we can’t seem to work through. Don’t jump the gun and fire an angry letter to your publisher. Bad move. Instead, contact your agent and let them step in as the negotiator – after all, that is their job. Ninety-nine percent of the time, they can help solve the issue with your editor. If you are un-agented, then ask to have a conversation with the managing editor who oversees the projects. Generally, things iron out smoothly. Jumping the protocol of a publishing company is a bad move, regardless.

The right attitude transpires into good things. You will lay the groundwork for future contracts based not only on your work but also on your integrity as a solid author. Strive to be an author whose integrity shines. You will set the pace for your writing future.

TWEETABLE

Cindy K. Sproles is an author, speaker, and conference teacher. She is the cofounder of Christian Devotions Ministries and the executive editor for christiandevotions.us and inspireafire.com. Cindy is the lead managing editor for SonRise Devotionals and also Straight Street Books, both imprints of LPC/Iron Stream Media Publications. She is a mentor with Write Right and the director of the Asheville Chrisitan Writers Conference held each February at the Billy Graham Training Center, the Cove, Asheville, NC. Cindy is a best selling, award winning novelist. Visit Cindy at www.cindysproles.com.

10 comments:

  1. Cindy,

    Thank you for writing this important article. The right attitude or mindset is foundational as we work with others. It filters into our words--oral or print. It's why we have to turn to the Lord constantly for the right words and wisdom that only He can provide.

    Terry
    author of 10 Publishing Myths, Insights Every Author Needs to Succeed

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  2. Cindy, could you do a blog about some of those amazing self-publish help companies? There were so many on the web with bad reviews, I gave up trying to find a good one.
    Thanks.

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  3. Writing and the publishing journey can take many different twists. Have an attitude of integrity will help us through each moment. Pray first. :-)

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  4. Cindy, thank you for this helpful article. Attitude is so important. I learn from you - thanks for sharing.

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  5. A good attitude brings good results.

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