So, I have been thinking about the art of listening, but not only listening – actually hearing what is “said” and acting on what you are hearing.
When I take on a project initially, I am 100 percent sure I can sell it. I help my client make their proposal or manuscript (if it is a novel) the best it can be, and then I submit it. I often think that editors turn down material just to do so—they dismiss it without reading it carefully or giving it their full consideration for a variety of reasons. Needless to say, this pisses me off. Then there are those projects which elicit rejections from a number of editors for the same reason. When this happens, I begin to listen to what is being said by my colleagues on the publishing side. Most always, I share these helpful and constructive comments with my clients who often choose to address them before we go back out to a second round of publishers.
Currently, I have a client who on my advice was more than happy to address those editors’ suggestions she agreed with and I am still hopeful that we will sell her project once the changes are made and the material is back out in the marketplace.
Then there are the clients who don’t listen to my advice or editors’ feedback at all. They go to their friends and colleagues for opinions, argue with whatever suggestions I make and (sometimes) request that I respond to editors in ways that I think (and let them know) are not appropriate. I wonder why people like this hire agents at all. Really. These authors are paying a commission for me to provide them with advice I have garnered after years of experience. True, they don’t have to take my advice, but if they are just going to listen to everyone around them and disagree with their agent’s opinion, then why have an agent at all. In fact, the inability to listen to one’s agent does not bode well for a good working relationship with an editor and publisher.
I have found, over the last many years, that listening and acting on what you hear is an art and something that is very important in moving forward in life and in one’s career.
I wonder if you agree.