Monday, September 3, 2012

MONDAY MUSINGS: PROFESSIONAL MINDSET




Most people comport themselves professionally in the workplace. It’s hammered in that we must have professional courtesy when dealing with clients, customers, and fellow workers. The formality of our actions is determined by the type business we’re in and who we’re dealing with. We answer emails within 48 hours, we confirm arrangements made by email, we send email reminders to customers and clients, we handle cancellations the same way—phone or by email. We maintain confidentiality. At least in my line of work this has always been the routine. I handle myself professionally. It’s a mindset.

Personally, I think courtesy is an important quality regardless of whether you’re dealing with business or personal matters. Courtesy is part of having good manners and manners should be as natural as breathing.

I bring that same professional mindset to my online persona and especially with my blog. I have a personal blog day, Mondays, but the other two blog days feature authors. I have a monthly scheduling calendar. I have to have one to keep track of my guests and topics. Usually, I’m booking a month in advance. I’m dealing with busy authors, publicists, PR firms, publishers, and the occasional agent. This is a business and I handle it as such. Professional courtesy is a must.

Part of the professional courtesy I offer is my guidelines, a topic suggestion sheet, confirmation of guest spots, if I have to cancel for any reason I send an email. My reviews are handled the same way—I list those genres I read and those I don’t. I give turn around times. If I haven’t received an authors article and material the week before their blog date, I send a reminder of the blog date. I do have those few I can tap if my blog guest is a no-show to do a quick article. Or I do it. Cancellations happen occasionally due to sickness, a major conflict in schedules, deadlines, and of course there are those who just don’t show up or respond. The latter usually don’t get invited back.

I don’t get paid for my blog or reviews. But I do try to handle those things as if I were paid. I’ll admit it burns my bacon when paid professionals don’t use their professional manners and I tend to weed these out of my life—I don’t have time for the attitude that they’re doing me a favor by sending me books or guests. *Snort. I don’t need any favors. What I need is professional courtesy and follow-through.

Most of the authors I work with are professional. Writing is their business and promotion is part of that business. I have a great deal of respect for hard working authors and PR people. I’ve made some good friends among them and I treasure them.

Like many, I have a very busy life. I work (I run a call center from home), have a spouse, kids, home responsibilities, a ranch and animals to care for, and I write. My time is tight. Dropping something last minute in my lap, especially a guest post, means a late night getting it set up (on a good day and happy blog gods, I’m done in 60 to 90 minutes). It’s even harder when I still have to go online and find bios, book covers, links to Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, or websites. Set up then can take several hours. God forbid if I have to work early morning on 4 hours sleep. It isn’t pretty and a foggy miasma of colorful metaphors abound.

I’m heading into my busy time with work.  As demands of work increases my time online decreases, although I still schedule time for that. I’d miss my online buddies too much if I didn’t. J


What are your thoughts on professional courtesy? Especially as an author or aspiring author?

  • When you’re a scheduled guest how early do you try to get your material to the blog owner?


  • If you’re a blog owner who schedules guests, as a professional courtesy, do you have clear guidelines for your guests?

18 comments:

Jo said...

I think courtesy is important no matter what. I was taught to be courteous as a child and have always endeavoured to be so during my life. Anyone who is not loses my respect very quickly.

Happy Labor Day Sia.

Kat Sheridan said...

Ugh. Reminds me of when I had a day job and needed to schedule a meeting. I didn't do it needlessly, respecting people's time. I planned as far ahead as I could (although sometimes it wasn't possible) and tried to send an agenda in advance. Inevitably, key people either would wander in late or not show up at all, wasting everybody else's time. No one EVER remembered to print and bring the agenda so I'd end up at the printer, stapler in hand, putting them together for folks. Or they'd talk so long the meeting couldn't end on time, messing up the schedule for OTHER meetings.

If I'm a guest on a blog, I get my material together as soon as possible and try to get it to the host at least 24 hours early (not always possible, but I do try). I make sure it's complete with any images I want, all relevant links I'll want, bio, etc. To do anything less is just sloppy and rude.

The nice thing, Sia, is that you always make it look so smooth, even though you may be swearing a blue streak behind the scenes!

Karen Walker said...

I feel this post, Sia. It makes me crazy when people don't follow through and do what they say they're going to do when they were supposed to do it. And don't communicate about it. Courtesy and good manners are so crucial in any of our relationships. Very wise post here, my dear.
Karen

~Sia McKye~ said...

Thank you Jo. I don't have to work much today, but we will be *Laboring* around the house. Today's bright and sunny so we have to mow the lawn after the past 4 days of rain and getting things ready for work or school tomorrow.

Are you still in the states or are you back home?

~Sia McKye~ said...

Kat, swearing a blue streak and moving into purple, at times.

the quality of the article is the contributor's reputation, the quality of the blog is mine.

And while there are many who do get their articles and materials to me in plenty of time, if I have the material at least 24 hours ahead it makes it easier on me, that's for sure.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Karen, it all comes down to good manners, doesn't it?

Time and unforeseen occurrences happen to everyone but communication helps to smooth things over and come up with a timely solution. If I'm given enough notice I can rearrange things. I still might have to scramble a bit, but nothing like I would if it's dropped on me at 9:00 pm and their post is due in a few hours.

I think that's true especially with authors and aspiring authors. It's a matter of the reputation attached to your name. How do you want to be perceived? Flighty and unreliable or competent and dependable?

Suze said...

I like to see a post on this topic, Sia. I have a feeling you are the type of person whose principles will take them far in life.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

When I'm scheduled as a guest, one week minimum, two even better. And I have guest post guidelines on my site. Only once has someone completely ignored them and then pulled out when I suggested he shorten his piece (at the very least.) I don't post guidelines to be mean or limit people - I just know what will draw the most attention and comments and want guests to benefit.

Jo said...

Not in the States yet Sia, heading there on Friday, 7th.

Cate Masters said...

I wholeheartedly agree, Sia. Courtesy is unfortunately a last consideration in too many dealings these days. Professional courtesy is every bit as important.
I do have clearcut guidelines on my blog, but many times guests ignore them. *sigh* I nearly shut down a blog because the lack of following the clear guidelines resulted in way too much time and work for me. But I love helping other authors, so it's going to stay.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Alex, I've had a few that have been a bit huffy when they've been called on not following the guidelines.

Rachel Morgan said...

When I ran my blog tour at the beginning of launching my series, I organised dates and things months in advance! I then wrote the posts and kept them for a bit, thinking that if I sent them to people TOO soon they might not schedule a post and then they'd forget about it :-)

~Sia McKye~ said...

Cate, I simply don't let guests ignore them. Kinda like raising teens. My house, my rules. Either you follow the guidelines or you don't have a guest spot.

I've had a few PR firms that have tried ignoring them too. I'm nice but firm. Here is the theme of the blog. These are my guidelines and here is my topic suggestions.

Dear PR person, did you give the guidelines etc, to author X? Their article doesn't fit them. If they don't have time to do that I will be glad to reschedule a time when they can.

Cate, I like helping authors too, but I'm not going to let them dictate what will run on my blog. And that's the beauty of getting the materials early. You can go back and suggest changes in plenty time for meeting the guest spot deadline.

James Rafferty said...

Sia, we all have busy lives, which means that courtesy and advance planning are that much more important. When I have a guest on my blog, we agree in advance what the gameplan will be and then execute against that. Like you, I've got tons of business experience outside of publishing, but the same rules apply - be considerate, be professional and follow through on your commitments.

J. B. Chicoine said...

I've never been a guest blogger before, but I try to rise to the same level of professionalism as you mention.

When it comes to personal matters--where no one else is impacted--I tend to be a procrastinator, but when someone else is involved, I like to do everything on my end as far in advance as I can.

On that note, when it's time for you to review my novel, I'll be sure you have all the links you need so you won't have mess around with all that. :)

Mark Koopmans said...

Hey Sia,

Great post and I think you are spot on treating this as if you were a paid professional... this way you are ready to go *when* you do start making some money via your writing :)

~Sia McKye~ said...

Bridget, I'm working my way to it and looking forward to reading the story! Then scheduling you here!

~Sia McKye~ said...

Mark, from your mouth to God's ear. :-)

Actually, I do believe that authors should think like that. You act like a professional, people tend to treat you as such.