Good manners are free

I have a few ambitions as a writer, some predictable, some maybe not so much. There is one I wouldn’t have predicted when I was considering stepping into the big, scary world of submitting to market, but which is now very important to me.

I want to be a writer other people find it pleasant to work with. I want to be the kind of writer who pays attention to submission guidelines, reading periods and deadlines. I want to submit my work when it’s as good as I can make it, and respond promptly, politely and with good grace to editors; or, in the case of rejection, not at all.

It would never have occurred to me, back when I only wrote for myself, that this would be a thing. I’ve heard some tales that really surprised me, about writers answering rejection letters with abusive emails describing the editor as a jackass who doesn’t recognise genius when he/she sees it. In my time as a slush reader I’ve seen submissions that have completely boggled my mind; I had no idea there were so many ways to fail at submission guidelines.

Good manners cost nothing, but leave an impression. Any sane person is more likely to consider working with someone who is polite and professional than someone who throws her toys out of the pram in the face of criticism or takes forever to respond to requests.

I haven’t managed a pro-sale yet. There is a list of markets I would love to crack, and a number of other achievements I hope to unlock one day. They will require hard work, dedication and not a little luck, because there are things I will need that are outside my control. Being courteous and professional? That’s entirely down to me, and there’s no excuse not to have it already.

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