I belong to two very personal professions; writing and teaching. I take my work very personally because I take a lot of pride in what I do. Both of these professions require dedication, discipline, love, blood, sweat and tears. In both arenas I have discovered a profound lack of professionalism and it is both disheartening and scary. I believe it is both a commentary on the business world today and the current state of human beings. Here is what I have seen.
1. Respect is necessary: People do not have to like what someone else says or agree with them in any way. People do however, need to be respectful of someone else’s work and opinions. I witnessed someone put other people’s manuscripts on blast over Twitter. To me, that speaks volumes and not in a positive way. I personally, would never work with that agent (even if they were the only agent to offer me representation). A writer puts their heart and soul into their work. Who are you to tear it apart publicly, as if you are the be all and end all of literature? If you don’t like it, fine, but please respect that person’s heart and soul on paper.
2. Manners are essential and will get you far: I love receiving rejection letters (yes I just said that) when the beginning reads, “Thank you for submitting your manuscript for our consideration.” It acknowledges that, yes, I did indeed take a leap of faith by allowing you to read my work. It is in fact a rejection, but the politeness of the letter is appreciated. Heck, the letter itself is also appreciated. This includes writing queries as well. I am sure agents get some impressive letters with misspellings (like the agent’s name) and no thank you or please.
3. Be honest, not rude: Honesty is always greatly appreciated. I thoroughly appreciate an agent or administrator who can be honest and candid in a polite and appropriate way. The old saying is true. It is not always what you say but how you say it that counts. I always accept all criticism or feedback. The one doling it out should be cognizant of how they are delivering said criticism. It can be the difference between someone being open to the feedback or being defensive and ignoring it. Be kind and honest.
Professionalism is important no matter what the field. It is being kind to your fellow human being and showing respect for their work. It is incredibly important and it is getting lost in our mad rush to complete everything on our to-do list. Take a moment and do things right. It is greatly appreciated by others.