Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Never be Snotty to the Assistant

At the RNA party to announce the shortlist for the Novel of the Year 2011 (which Kissing Mr Wrong just happens to be on) I was chatting to a commissioning editor from Headline. It turned out she had originally started as an assistant to my own editor at Headline and had risen through a series of promotions to the position she now held.

Think about it. How does a commissioning editor get to be a commissioning editor? It's usually not because they've been, say, middle management at Marks and Spencer. No, they've come through the ranks. Many have had stints as booksellers or been agents (or their assistants) en route but essentially, at some point they'll have been the one making the tea and going out to get the sandwiches.

Those people are usually the ones who new authors first make contact with at a publishing house or agency. So a new author would be advised to be polite and considerate at the very least. You may be thinking you always are, and I expect that's true, but there are some people who phone up demanding this or that, or respond badly to rejection and take it out on the assistant. Not a good idea because, remember:

The Tea Makers of Today are the Commissioning Editors of Tomorrow.


Rebecca Bradley said...

I read a similar post yesterday that said a lot of the assistants are the ones who are reading your manuscripts anyway, then bring them to the attention of the agent. So you really do need to be nice to them!

Karen said...

That's a very good point. Not that I would dream of being rude to anybody, I hasten to add!

Sarah Duncan said...

I sort of made the assumption that my lovely blog readers wouldn't need to be told to be nice to the tea makers, but I think it's worth remembering that they are potential king makers too - and especially if they're the first readers of manuscripts.