Having spent a 39 year career in business, I learned the importance of responsive communication. To negotiate a contract, close a deal, hire employees, or develop a successful product all required clear and consistent communication. As I entered the publishing world with my first book released in 2007, I found many instances of communication that became one way or nonexistent. I refer to this as speaking into the void.
Here’s one example. Agents used to send form letters when they rejected a writer’s query. A success would be a letter that had constructive suggestions. Now many agents don’t even bother to reply. On numerous web sites agents merely state that if you haven’t heard from them in six weeks they’re not interested. I can understand how this situation came about. Two years ago at a writers conference a literary agent described how her agency had received 36,000 query letters in one year and out of these signed seven new writers. Clearly, they couldn’t respond to all these queries without having a large staff. But from a writer’s standpoint, it’s frustrating to get no reply.
I also hear from publishers that one of the things they look for in authors is the ability to meet deadlines and keep the publisher informed of progress. My experience is that the authors are better at this than many of the publishers.
There are many reasons that writers turn to self-publishing, but the main one is control. When self-publishing, you have to manage the editing, cover art, production and distribution, but these items are under your control. Still, communication and meeting deadlines are needed from people hired to perform services.
On the flip side, in traditional publishing, it’s wonderful to have others bear the upfront expenses and manage the process if there is good communication.
What has been your experience?