Author Professionalism—the Difference between Failure and Success

One of the best ways of moving toward a successful writing career is to shift your mindset as well as improving your skill set.

Empathy will take you a long way in this industry. Think about what will make an agent or editor want to work with you. These individuals are typically very busy. They are happiest professionally when they are working with writers who are easy and pleasant to work with. A writer with a professional attitude makes life easier for editors and agents.

How to Demonstrate Your Professionalism

As a professional writer, it will be beneficial to have people want to work with you. You will benefit, therefore, from a professional demeanor and attitude.

Professionalism means:

Understanding that a career takes time to build

New writers are often in a hurry for success. Many people have been misled to believe that publishing a novel is the end of a journey, not the beginning.

Aside from the occasional lightning strike, however, a writing career should be considered something that you build over time.

Realizing that you are on your own track and shouldn’t compare yourself to others

Looking at the success of other authors can be helpful in defining what you want to achieve in your career, but don’t waste time comparing yourself to other people.

Set goals that are right for you and work hard to achieve them. There are many circumstances that are different for other authors. Excessive comparisons will do more to hold you back than propel you forward.

Always doing what you say you’re going to do

This is a sign of professionalism in any industry. It’s important to build trust with your readers and the people who help you towards your career goals.

Live up to your promises as far as possible, including delivering your manuscripts on time, or giving fair warning if you can’t.

Communicating with your agent and editor clearly and promptly

You won’t endear yourself to busy agents and editors by leaving it until the last minute to communicate critical information about your project.

You expect your editor or agent to communicate with you in a timely fashion, so act with the same level of professionalism.

Making your best efforts to promote your work

Many beginners think that the point of working with an editor or agent is to have them promote the book while the author gets on with writing the next one. This is not the case. Authors are expected to do their best to promote their own work. This might mean maintaining a presence on social media, attending book signings, performing interviews, and more.

It’s true that traditional publishers often have a bigger budget than indie publishers, and they may have access to venues that are less accessible or closed to indie publishers, but authors are still expected to pull their weight.

With so many ways to market and promote your work, it would be unprofessional not to take advantage of these.

Producing your very best work

Please don’t submit anything but your best work to your agent or editor. An editor’s role is not to fix your first draft. You need to proofread and edit your work before you submit it.

Demonstrate that you take your career seriously by submitting a book that is as close to publication-ready as you can. If this means getting an outside copy editor, you should go ahead and do so.