5 Etiquette Rules for Writer Friends
If you're an unpublished writer busy learning and honing your craft, via writing a lot, reading books on craft, and staying plugged into the writing and publishing social media scene, then you're in a good place when it comes time to presenting your work to the world. And if you're particularly keen, you've developed friendships or at least solid associations with other writers--especially published ones.
We've all heard dream stories of how an unpublished, unrepresented writer was given his or her big break from a friend who referred them to an agent or editor. Seems like half the debut stories in Writer's Digest got agents this way. And that's good. Referrals are gold. But there's definitely an etiquette to your relationships with pubbed writers.
Because let's face it: when you're unpublished, they've got something you need. So do make sure you're polite about it.
1. Be gracious for any help you get. This is a no-brainer, but plenty of people aren't gracious--especially when they get negative feedback. Big-time Author Friend didn't like your book, and tells you what's wrong with it? Thank them anyway. Do not throw a strop and get angry. They did you a favor and you forgot--forgot-- that they are in a place of knowledge about this stuff. If you get feedback and it's clear you have a lot of work to do, do you want that author friend to give you advice or read your stuff in the future? If so, be professional. No further beseeching on your part is acceptable.Which leads me to #2...
2. Don't abuse their good will. If you have an author friend, they might be willing to read your query or first chapter or if you're super lucky, your manuscript. But you are not to abuse this privilege. If they review it and the comments aren't along the lines of ecstatic monkey joy, then you will not write a diatribe in response, asking for another look, berating the author for not understanding you. Nor will you vomit repeated drafts their way unless they are a very good friend indeed and they said you could.
4. Don't assume every author friend will help you. You might think you're being polite by not asking for help from a published author friend. Here's you, just sitting there nicely with your hands folded in your lap, not asking for anything. The nerve of your author friend for not noticing your non-neediness and offering to help because you've been a good boy or girl!
The unpublished think authors are oracles of wisdom, but every published author was once an unpublished one. They don't have all the answers, especially not for your situation. If you have an author friend, you will not assume he or she will offer to help--and if they don't, it usually isn't anything to do with you.
What do you think? Have you experienced any of the above on either side of the fence?
For more very good information on this topic, check out this post from Warrior Poet Blog called 5 undying myths about published writers and their eerie powers.