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Publishing relationships

Recently I came across this interesting piece, and it got me to thinking about the value of publishing relationships.

It has long been felt that ours is a “people business,” and I strong believe this is true.  Even with the growth of social media and e-mail, talking face to face always seems to get things done faster and more cordially.

And, in this age of such enormous change in our business, talking to each other about how we can all benefit from these changes is more important than ever.  This goes for publishers and agents, editors and agents, authors and editors, authors and agents, and on and on.  As these relationships grow and develop, they become more and more valuable to our clients and their books.

Recently one of my authors has faced some real challenges with their publisher where there is a great deal at stake. And so in addressing these challenges I included people who I have “grown up with” in the business – people who now are at the top of the publishing company.  My younger colleagues who are directly involved in the issues involved have “slapped my hand” about this; they think I am going around them.  But I don’t agree.  I am simply using the fact that I know these folks at the head of the company can solve the problems and I am telling them directly how concerned I am.  I know by doing this that ultimately these longtime relationships will help solve the issues.

Then there are always the points where there is a disagreement or misunderstanding between colleagues.  Last week, I felt an editor had done something underhanded regarding one of my authors and when I brought this up a couple of days later at a lunch with the head of her company, we discussed it – each of us passionately defending our point of view — and ultimately agreed that we would put this behind us and move forward.  Had we not had a long and solid relationship, this would not have happened.

I actually feel so fortunate to have made so many good friends over the years in this business; I have met and gotten to know some very smart, quite wonderful people.  It is indeed one of the reasons why I love this business and have stayed in it so long.

3 Responses to Publishing relationships

  1. Jaclyn says:

    I know what you mean. History matters. I’ve always found that it’s a lot easier to agree to disagree with a friend than with a stranger.

  2. In almost industry, one of the most frequently repeated tips for job searchers is, “It’s who you know”. i.e. Exploit your personal relationships when they can help you out!

    I don’t see why it would be any different for an agent. Those personal connections can help speed and ease communications, get things sorted out, and so on. It’s just easier to communicate and work through problems with people you know a little bit, if only for the fact that you know how they operate. I’d feel fortunate to have an agent with a lot of good, personal relationships within the business!

  3. Catherine Whitney says:

    Relationships imply an investment, a caring and a building of trust. We all benefit from strong business relationships, which often become personal–usually for the good. Unfortunately, publishing, like most industries, has become increasingly isolationist. Face to face meetings are rare; those old “getting to know you” sessions have been almost abandoned. I have worked with editors I’ve never met or even spoken to on the phone. Everything happens through email. Editing occurs in the Word “changes” program. I agree that relationships are crucial, but we have to make the effort to choose real communication instead of always hitting the send button.

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