Monday, July 5, 2010

Keeping Things Professional

When I graduated from high school I got a job at a bank as a teller. I was also waitressing at night so getting up early for a professional job exhausted me.
One day during training I finished my workbook. The other tellers were doing drive-thru. The lobby wasn't open yet.

To my eighteen year old mind, it seemed like a good time for a nap.

That didn't go over well.

I didn't have a professional mindset. I was still back in school where I always took a nap in the mornings during class.

If you're writing toward publication, toward a career, it's important to find out what is expected of professionals in this industry. I read an interesting comment where a lady remarked that her husband was in sales, and in that industry, it's okay not to take no for an answer. But with the publishing industry, that can be a death knell for your career.

What have you learned about being an author? What are the things required of you in your current job to be professional? How is it different from the publishing industry?

33 comments:

Wendy Paine Miller said...

I've found one key thing while touching down in all different kinds of social networks--don't complain. Don't bash another writer/agent/editor, etc. Stay classy.

That reminds me, one year I worked on a ropes course and had a shift in the trees watching out for the kids. I fought nodding off there too. Yikes.

~ Wendy

Karen Amanda Hooper said...

My dad has always told me that I have a problem with patience. Well, if there is one virtue we learn as writers it is patience.

Waiting on notes from betas, replies from queries, agents to read MSs, and eventually I'll wait to hear from editors. Waiting and more waiting. The life of a writer.

Hope you had a great 4th and took lots of naps. ;)

Ps...I forgot to comment on your RWA comment but you know you are welcome to stay with us if you come down. We can always make room for a friend. :)

Terri Tiffany said...

DOn't tell me you were one of those who fell asleep in class? LOL My husband is going nuts cause of kids like that in his classes now:)
I think being professional by keeping goals, helping others when they need it and learning as much as we can about this business.

Jessica Nelson said...

Wendy, I totally agree! No public complaining, EVER. That's not to say we can't share an opinion touching on something negative, but there's definitely a professional way to do it. Thanks for stopping by!

Jessica Nelson said...

Karen, if you have room I might think about it! I don't want to crash your party though. :-) Thanks for offering! Patience is a toughie. It's SO hard waiting. Thank goodness we have all these other characters/ideas vying for our attention and distracting us. LOL!

Jessica Nelson said...

Well, Terri, I wasn't for a long time but in high school I just felt SO tired. I always finished my work easily and early and there was no reason not to sleep. *grin*
I like what you think about being professional. You're right!

Danyelle said...

Great post! From what I've observed, it's best to NEVER say anything unkind about anyone. Those types of things can end up taking a life of their own. Or, in more positive terms, it's important to be authentically you. Be yourself, but be your best self. :)

Jessica Nelson said...

LOL Danyelle! I love that. Be your best self.
Great words. :-)

kathy taylor said...

Publishing is different from any type of work I've done: Air Force, teaching, and rehabilitation counseling. It's difficult to get a question answered, and it puts writer's in a constant state of evaluation. Even subject to USAF inspection, I knew the rules. In publishing they're not so easily defined. I'm still trying to figure out how to change author information on Amazon. It's so outdated!

Patti said...

One thing I've noticed is that you can't be as aggressive as I think other professions allow and you need a lot more patience.

Diane said...

Funny Miss Napper! I was a bank teller too...... I wonder what other similarities we have. :O)

T. Anne said...

I think patience in our industry is key. ALthough it's a far cry from what we want, the waiting and showing agents we are willing to wait is an asset in the end. It's all in God's time anyway, right?

Katie S said...

Oooh what an interesting topic.

I have to agree with what others have said. Patients is a huge part of being a writer. In every step of the process there is a feeling of " hurry up and wait." You just have to be able to roll with that.

Jeanette Levellie said...

So funny! But not at the time, right?

I have learned that things in this industry change more often than a 13 year old girl changes outfits. So, you must learn to be flexible. Everything will not turn out the way you think it will. It may be better, but it will not be the same as you pictured it.

And--be careful what you say on blogs, Facebook and Twitter. It's way too easy to be a jerk online. You can excuse a nap at 9 a.m when you're 18--you can't excuse a tacky remark about another human being when you're 35 or 53 and trying to represent Jesus and yourself in this marketplace. Before you say, pray. If it's not nice, put it on ice. And you may quote me on that.

Jessica Nelson said...

Kathy, thanks so much for stopping by! "A constant state of evaluation"
That's SO true. It's also true about no defined rules.

Patti, true. I wonder if it has anything to do with the personalities involved? You know, introverts? *grin*

Jessica Nelson said...

Diane! LOL I wonder too...

T. Anne, I'm currently hoping my patience will pay off! LOL Trying to impress an agent (and I'm sure she doesn't even notice. lol)

Katie, rolling with it is hard. Ha! Wonder how I can pick up some momentum? :-)

Jessica Nelson said...

LOL! Jeanette, I've never heard those sayings!!!! I think I will quote those. Thanks for the laugh!

Melissa said...

Everyone has added such great professional comments in the comments, I don't really have anything to add.

But this was a great post and brought some interesting things to my mind. I have several things to think about, courtesy of this post.

ali said...

Well, I've learned that NAPPING ON THE JOB is not professional! Meaning, you can't expect to do a good job, find success and "work your way up the ladder" if you're snoozing instead of working your tail off. Just because we work at home, sometimes early in the morning (in our pj's) or late at night (in our pj's) or even in the afternoon (in our pj's) is no excuse to not bring out ALL every. single. time.

patti said...

Whew. Things crrraaaawwwlll along in the publishing world, and then BAM, everything's needed Yesterday.
I do better when I plug along with daily goals so the tidal waves don't throw me off...too much.

Great post.
Patti

Lisa Jordan said...

Publishing/writing is a hurry up and wait business. And I don't have a decade to write the second novel. I need to find writing time in my day no matter how busy it is.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jess -

Be careful of mixing business with pleasure. A friend is a friend in a social environment. If you work for them (editor) in the publishing industry keep it professional. A teasing remark could be misunderstood as whining/complaining.

Work extra hard to meet your deadlines.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Tabitha Bird said...

One thing I have learnt is to be who I am regardless of who I meet or who follows my blog or my writing. Honestly and integrity in a writer's words are all the reader has to trust. I want others to see the real me in my work. I believed this before I was a writer. I believe it still.

Karen Lange said...

I've found that it pays to be as polished and professional as possible no matter what I do. It garners respect and I know I've put my best foot forward.
Blessings,
Karen :)

Jessica Nelson said...

Susan, that's such good advice. Thank you!

Lisa, that's very true. :-)

Patti, lol, I didn't know about the BAM thing. :-) Thanks for the tip!

Ali, YES!!! Great analogy.

Melissa, I love the commments too! People always give me something to think about and a different way to look at things.

Kelly Freestone said...

Just curious, were you fired? lol

I work in a family owned recycling business.
This work is so different from writing in the sense it helps the environment, and here I am writing stories to be put on paper! lol
j/k.
Not really the "tree-hugger" type...no offense to those who are ;)

Cause around here, there's plenty of trees..anyway, not the point...

It's hard to be professional in a family business.

My coworkers are at each family get-together, church function, and birthday party, lol.

Which actually makes it easier to discuss business, but a little harder to be professional here in the office when we just saw each other in bathingsuits over the weekend...lol

Hope you had a happy 4th!

Susanne Dietze said...

Great post, Jessica. What an important discussion. I think I'd have to agree with those who said to watch what we say. If we complain publicly about a contest judge or another writer, well, what if we later want their agent to represent us? It's just common sense to be positive when speaking of others.

Kara said...

I'm laughing because my husband nodded off during a meeting the other day and was so embarassed, of course he had been working 10 days straight with very little sleep. But still frowned upon!
I guess I've learned not to burn any bridges:)

Jessica Nelson said...

Oh man, Kara, LOL! I feel for your husband. Thanks for sharing that though. It's years later and I'm still embarrassed by it.

Suzanne, exactly! And publishing, I've heard, is a small world so things get around.

LOL Kelly, no, I wasn't fired. Thank goodness! One of the tellers gave me a little talk and cried because I was so embarrassed! But it all worked out and I had a really wonderful time during the years I worked there. :-) Sounds like you have a great job!

Jessica Nelson said...

Tabitha, that's a really good point. I would never want to be fake.

Karen, interesting point about respect. I'd have to agree with you.

Robyn Campbell said...

Super post Jess. I have learned that being polite ALWAYS gets you where you want to go.

I have seen writers literally follow agents/editors into the facilities. (You get the picture?) And then they proceed to chat while said agent/editor is taking care of business. Shoving their MS under the door. YIKES!

Your post will make a lot of writers think twice. And that's a good thing. :)

Deb Shucka said...

Great story, and really good questions.

I think the one thing that holds true regardless the profession is to always show respect to the people you deal with - including yourself.

Linda Glaz said...

Ooh, don't ever pray for patience. God will make you a writer.