It’s a lovely Tuesday here in the Berkshires with a billion leaves in full splendor. They’re turning and falling far too quickly, however. I spent the weekend in Vermont with family—a much needed break from my writing routine before jumping into Book Two of The Chronicles of Lily Carmichael, called WESTERN DESERT. I would have liked to spend every minute enjoying the company and truly getting away from my work, but the truth is, I brought my computer and sacrificed some time with my siblings and the falling leaves to answer e-mails and stay on top of my blog tour. If I hadn’t, I would have come home today to a thousand e-mails and a to-do list that would take me into the wee hours of the morning to catch up on. You think I’m exaggerating? Let’s take a look…
I belong to several writer’s loops, without which I would not be where I am, or be able to do what I do. I love my writing buddies! There is no doubt that networking is essential to this business and that none of us can do it all alone. As part of various writing loops, I have a certain responsibility to participate, reciprocate, and respond helpfully whenever possible. In these digital days, it’s easier than ever to connect with peers, find support, and work together to help each other succeed. I’m happy to do it, and I budget a considerable amount of time to keeping current—a worthwhile investment, in my opinion.
Some of these loops have strict rules about promotion and participation etiquette. Certain days are allotted for such things as “liking” FB pages, Amazon Author pages, and adding “likes” and “tags” to books. Some groups have no promo or only promo on certain days. Other loops allow promotion of blog appearances and will help “tweet” the word. There are groups that are for information only, and I love them for the invaluable industry scoop that everyone shares. The moderators who keep these groups on task and call us out when we go astray are amazing—giving freely of their time to make this all possible and keep some semblance of order to the chaos. As much of a rebel as I can be, I am happy for the rules because with so many participants (over a thousand in some groups), it can become a bit…well…unruly.
Although the rules are slightly different for each group, there are some common etiquette tips that are good to know and sometimes ignored due to the fact that we are all insanely busy, and we often drop a few of the many balls we are juggling. I know I do. This post came about because of a few of my unintentional faux pas. Here’s my list of etiquette guidelines that I try to follow, but that have slipped through my fingers more than once. Lord knows that if we could all follow these tips it would certainly save me, personally, about half of the 400 e-mails a day that I have to go through to find the 100 I need to pay attention to. I’d bet I’m not the only one.
1) Trim your posts- This means that you keep enough of the previous poster’s message to give the gist of the content, but trim or delete anything that isn’t pertinent. People on “digest” have to search through every lengthy posting before they get to the final message. This is one of the reasons I’m not on digest. I would be tempted to delete threads without looking at them at all, and would miss a lot of important information. Therefore, I continue to receive individual e-mails.
2) Respond privately to CONGRATULATE, or otherwise personally support another writer. I know we all get excited when someone signs a contract, has a new release, or celebrates an amazing milestone, but I’m sure I’m not alone in my e-mail overload plight where thirty responses to congratulate someone come blasting through my Outlook in-box…ten times a day. I’ve got my e-mail set up so I can get a glimpse of the subject and weed through comments quickly, but multiply the thirty by five different loops, thousands of daily participants, and lots of amazing successes flying through our groups, and it becomes a tad overwhelming. So instead of hitting “reply,” look at the bottom of the page and click on “reply to sender” whenever possible. This is not a hard and fast rule and some people might not agree, perhaps thinking that “congrats” are meant to be shared with the group, but I think public encouragement ends up being more about the sender than the receiver–intentionally, or unintentionally. I’d love to hear the argument for and against this.
3) Check your links-My bad! I did this today. I was at my brother’s, on vacation, and obviously distracted. I requested some “tweet” love from some of my writing loops and figured out about twenty minutes later that I had put an incorrect link in the tweet. Tell me this hasn’t happened to you? Six of my very busy writer pals had graciously tweeted my incorrect link to a few thousand of their followers before I went back and made the correction. Efficient, aren’t they? It’s a waste of their time and makes it appear that I am unprofessional, and therefore reflects poorly on them as well. As a courtesy, I will do my best to check my links in the future before I send information out to my groups. Accept my apologies, gang.