By Nichole Giles
The Following is a True Story:
A man named Scott owns his own mortgage business. This man does not advertise in newspapers or on billboards, doesn’t send out fliers or promotions over radio waves. His company is built strictly by word of mouth. For that matter, he only takes new clients by recommendation. Meaning, everyone who goes to him is sent there by another client.
In this way, he saves advertising costs and is able to use the money toward other things. Scott chooses to throw big parties for all clients of his company—inviting them to bring friends to come eat and play. And when I say play, I mean this is a big deal thing with way fun activities and door prizes. Whenever a client recommends someone else, the recommending person or family receives a very nice thank you gift. Sometimes it’s chocolates, sometimes it’s gourmet cookies, gift baskets, gift cards, personalized address stamps or labels, etc. But whatever they send is always high class, and thoughtful.
Over the course of several years, the company has grown from small and intimate to huge and ultra-successful.
Mike and John own a law business. These partners are nice guys, professional, cordial, and hard working. But even though they don’t advertise much, they have a much different plan for building their clientele. No parties, no recommendations, and no thank you gifts—or even cards. When someone calls needing assistance, they take days or weeks to respond, and once they have a check in hand, the client is long forgotten. Granted, it’s true that their clients are very different from those of the mortgage company, but the concept probably works the same way. Their firm is small, and with no one excited about recommending them, will probably stay that way.
What’s the difference?
The mortgage company will finance, refinance, and serve the needs of their clients to the best of their abilities, and it shows in their thoughtfulness of people. Someone can call them and have his call returned within hours, his questions answered immediately, and an application processed in an afternoon. Their clients are clients for life.
On the other hand, the law firm is difficult to reach, abrasive with the people they serve, and ungrateful for the opportunity to render their services—regardless of the circumstances. If the need ever arises again, those clients needing an attorney will likely try going somewhere else to see if they have better luck. After all, even criminals have choices when it comes to lawyers.
Which business would you rather associate with?
The same way of thinking can be applied to us as authors. I think it’s important to treat our writing as work, and our work as a business. Are we gracious and thankful—even when we get rejections? Or are we bitter and mean? How do we speak to others with whom we associate? Do we bash other authors openly or give them private, constructive criticism, while building up their confidence?
Are you thankful for the agent or editor to whom you submitted and who took the time to read your work—even though they have an enormous pile of other manuscripts to go through? Even if they passed, they took valuable time to look. Did you think to thank them for that? If not, maybe you should. Maybe we all should.
Rejection is a part of the business, and I get the feeling that editors and agents don’t love that part of their jobs. Maybe that’s why some don’t even bother to reply. Maybe it’s too hard to stomach the idea that they might be squashing someone’s dreams.
My recommendation: Thank them anyway. They work hard, and certainly deserve it. And who knows, maybe someday you’ll submit to them again, and they’ll remember that you were gracious and thankful. And maybe, just maybe, they’ll become your agent or editor for life.
**Names in the story have been changed.