As an author, you should always be aware that when an agent takes you on, and when an editor is interested in acquiring you, they’re putting their reputation on the line for you and your book.
Let’s start here: we’re all salespeople. You have to sell your book to an agent. The agent has to sell to an editor. The editor has to sell it to the Pub Board, including the sales team. The sales team has to sell it to bookstores. Bookstores have to sell it to customers. All down the line, your book is being sold. And all salespeople rely on their good reputation to get them in the door to be able to sell in the first place.
For the editors, their credibility hangs in the balance with each proposal they bring to Pub Board. It’s the same with agents. My reputation amongst the editors is at stake every time I submit a manuscript. The last thing I want is for them to start thinking, “Oh no, another proposal from her.” It’s the same with the sales reps who sit in front of the buyers at Barnes & Noble and Sam’s Club.
So that’s one of the reasons we’re so careful in choosing the books we want to champion. Each book reflects on us personally and professionally.
Of course, this applies to you as an author. Who your agent is will reflect on you. The quality of each successive manuscript will affect your reputation and ability to keep getting published. Your sales numbers will have a big impact on your reputation. And if you acquire a reputation for being a pain in the patootie to work with, that will affect you, too.
We all need to pay attention to how our actions of today will affect our ability to do business tomorrow.
Glass, china, and reputation are easily cracked, and never well mended.
Q4U: What are your thoughts on the importance of reputation in the publishing industry and life in general?
Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent