7 Publishing Virtues

04May09

So earlier here on the blog, we did the 7 deadly publishing sins. Only fair to flip it around to the virtues as well–because let’s face it: it’s more fun to talk about what you should do than what you shouldn’t.

CHASTITY

Ok, I’m reaching here, but let’s use the metaphysical rather than literal meaning. (Some things are better left un-blogged.) But purity–of focus, of intent–is a lifesaver in a business that can be exhilarating, frustrating, joyful, disheartening, inspiring and infuriating–and that’s just before 11am. But knowing that you have stayed faithful to your goals as a writer, to your brand, and to doing business in a way you’re proud of goes a long way toward peace of mind. And isn’t that all what we’re after? (Well, peace of mind, and a fat book deal.)

TEMPERANCE

Fear not, I won’t tell you to give up the hooch. I’m going meta again here: Moderating your responses will get you far. Think before hitting send on that angry email to your editor (better yet, send it to your agent to get a second opinion). Sleep on it before you make important choices. Don’t get swept away either in excitement or frustration. Be the cool head on your loop or critique group. Allow everyone (including, and perhaps most of all, yourself) a measure of grace.

CHARITY

Once you’ve broken through, find some way to pay it forward with other writers in whatever way feels right to you, whether that’s blurbing, offering a read to a newbie, doing a panel, giving a referral, or just being a source of encouragement. There is lots of success to go around, no need to pull the ladder up behind. And give others the benefit of their best self—don’t assume the worst or jump to the most horrifying conclusion.

DILIGENCE

Work hard. Do your mama proud. Meet your deadlines. Turn in your best work.

PATIENCE

Oh is any virtue so necessary in publishing? It frustrates everyone–literally everyone, even the people you perceive to be the cause of the delays–and yet it’s a truth. It’s a lot of hurry up and wait. Remember yours is not the only book anyone works on anywhere along the line, but of course it’s reasonable and smart to be firm and kind about getting your needs met in a reasonable amount of time.

KINDNESS

You really can’t ever go wrong with this one. Thank you’s and telling someone’s boss how great they are are will do wonders for you. And if you play well with others, they are that much more likely to go the extra mile for you when the unfortunate happens (as it is bound to) or when there are extra goodies to be passed about. There are many ways to do this that are thoroughly professional; find the one that feels right to you and excel at it.

HUMILITY

Even your favorite, most fierce bestselling author puts her fabulous shoes on one at a time. That uberagent? Has allergies. Your publisher? Soft spot for Pinkberry. We’re all just humans trying to do our best and get by. No matter how huge you get, or how huge you think someone else is, it’s never bad to remember that.

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10 Responses to “7 Publishing Virtues”

  1. 1 Linda Grimes

    Great writerly virtues, all–reasonable and pragmatic. Truly words of wisdom. But thank goodness the first two are metaphysical; I can handle the rest, no sweat, but I might have stumbled over those. ;-)

  2. Ah, the positive side. I love this post. I really love the chastity part. In regards to peace of mind, practicing all these things helps so much. Working on another project that’s true to my brand (the whole chaste thing) helps me be patient with projects that are out of my hands. Showing gratitude helps you feel you’re doing something, moving forward. It all works together.

  3. This is a great post. I read your earlier one and enjoyed it too. The 7 virtues are possibly more important that the 7 deadly sins!

  4. Great article. I think some times we get so caught up in our work as writers that it’s easy to forget the above mentioned virtues. And I have to say, it does help having a great agent (like you), especially on that patience part :-)

  5. 5 Maureen

    Totally agree with this entire post. And it’s great to hear how frustrating the waiting can be for everyone on the other side of publishing! Lord knows it’s a killer for us writers!

  6. 6 mcafeeland

    …words to live by. Lovely post.

  7. 7 BPo

    I can’t believe you told everyone I had allergies.

  8. Thats a pretty good list of virtues. You know how this business is like. If you are into publishing controversial books, you need some more virtues ;-)

  9. These are indeed publishing virtues that needs to get every one of them considered when entering a challenging and unpredictable publishing world. It’s a matter of having these virtues to survive.


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