This Crazy Business

Publishing is a business. We hear this from agents, editors and writer friends all the time, cautioning us to approach it with that attitude and level of professionalism. This is absolutely true.


There are several instances where publishing DOESN’T operate like any other business (querying in particular), and if you’re not aware of these important differences, you may find yourself in a tricky situation.

Attachments are a No-No
This is like a foreign concept for most business folks. In many other avenues of business, email attachments are a common, necessary part of communicating. Not so in publishing. When you’re submitting your query, for example, EVERYTHING must go in the body of the email.

Phone Follow-ups are Taboo
If I haven’t heard from a work contact in response to a message or email I’ve sent them, I often pick up the phone and check in. It’s no big deal and it’s amazing how many things can be solved with a simple call. DO NOT DO THIS IN PUBLISHING! The exception is if you’re already represented and are communicating with your own agent, editor, etc.

Responses are SLOOOW
I work in PR, where project deadlines are sometimes a matter of hours. With most forms of business, a response time of several weeks or months is a signal that the other party just isn’t interested enough to move forward, so you move on. You can’t afford to invest more time and energy in that possibility.

Publishing is just the opposite. Long waits can mean anything. Expect them, don’t overanalyze and try not to freak out.

Don’t Expect Feedback
Whether we’re getting edits from a client or a review from our boss, chances are we get some type of specific feedback almost daily in our work. Not true while querying. Again, don’t expect any kind of feedback or additional comments unless an agent decides to take you on.

There are, of course, exceptions to all of these rules but, in general, I’ve found them to be good reminders in my own publishing journey. What differences have you noticed between publishing and other businesses?


  1. Hi Nicole,
    SOOOO true!! Some very wise advice here. And thankyou so much for stopping by with your kind words, I will hang in there its just trying to keep up with all these web sites and social networking phew!!!
    Have a good day .x

  2. Nicole, you will find that where there is power, there will be abuse of that power. Many people are only as good as they are forced to be.

    Computer viruses, an ocean of queries, and frightened publishers have all made business very hard for agents. The world of publishing is changing, and we are caught in the tidal wave of it. Thanks for commenting on my blog. I have followed yours, Roland