Friday, November 5, 2010

Keeping it Professional

Rue de Rennes Paris, 1920--mario-tozzi-1895-1979_thumb[1]Sometimes it’s a challenge to act like you’re a professional person when you write.

People don’t really get writing, sometimes. They know we’re at home, but they really don’t know what we’re doing there.

And children can make it difficult to be professional.

When I upgraded my cell phone and gave my son the old phone, I had no idea that the contact list would still be there, even though we’d gotten a new phone number assigned to the phone. He was busily thumbing through, adding contacts to his directory (all 7th graders) and said, “Hey. Who’s Ellen?”

“Ellen? Ellen is my agent. Hey…give me that phone!”

And then my 3rd grade daughter, who tried to make me change my profile picture on my Gmail account so it would have kittens on it.

I’ve no problem with kittens. I love cats, actually. But a book cover would be a better choice for my particular books.

Then, of course, there was the radio interview where my daughter knocked on my locked bedroom door for 20 minutes.

Still, I’m trying hard to portray myself as a serious professional.

Things that help:

  • Business cards.
  • A snappy, interesting one or two sentence summary of your book, if someone asks what it’s about. (Think of it like a pitch.)
  • Introducing yourself as a writer (this is a tough one. I’m working on it.)
  • A professional-sounding email, Twitter, Facebook account. My email is my name, and so is my Twitter account and Facebook. I have two Facebook accounts---one professional and one personal. This keeps me from feeling irritated when old sorority sisters post pictures of me from 1989.
  • My voice mail message sounds professional.
  • A website. This is important, even if your book isn’t out yet. Make sure your contact info isn’t buried on there.
  • Respecting our writing time and asking others to do so, too.
  • Making sure our children know when we’re about to be on an important phone call.

Alan Orloff had a wonderful idea for keeping children away when you need to work. He puts a sign on his office door that says: Please come in so we can get started on chores.



Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Elizabeth, both you and Alan have given me fun chuckles this week. Thanks. Being childless, I don't run into any of those issues. Once I gave a phone interview while a cat vomited on the carpet 2 feet away from me. He was fine - just a hair ball - and I kept moving on with the interview. I think I would have stopped if it had been a child puking - then again, maybe not.

Darrell James said...

Elizabeth, we have two cats that seem to work at out-whining each other. "Let me in; let me out. Pet me!" One won't eat unless I stand over her and watch. I'm tempted to trade them in for two three-year-olds. Then again...

Lois Winston said...

Alan, every time I introduce myself as a writer, people either ask for free books (the general public thinks all writers are wallowing in money!) or they try to pitch me their story idea, wanting me to write it, then split the royalties with them!

Alan Orloff said...

Well stated, Elizabeth. Writers (especially non-NYT bestselling writers) don't get much respect. (Do you think it has anything to do with the way we dress?) I'm thinking about upgrading my professional image with a pipe, bow tie, and top hat. And silver-tipped walking stick.

Alice Loweecey said...

So true that people don't quite understand writers. My kids pretend to, but my cats are all about "Feed me! Pet me! Let me out!" Just like your cats, Darrell.

Keith Raffel said...

Elizabeth, do I sympathize! Nothing gets my goat faster than someone asking me how I'm enjoying retirement. I do explain to them that writing books counts as working. As the late James Crumley once said to me, "The hardest thing about being a writer is convincing your wife that you're working when you're looking out the window."

Beth Groundwater said...

I tell people that "I kill people for fun and profit" and that seems to leave them speechless. :)

N. R. Williams said...

That's funny. Even my adult children want nothing to do with chores. I can't imagine trying to conduct a radio interview while a child is knocking and wailing outside my door. Wailing would occur in my house.
By the way, I'm running a contest.
N. R. Williams, fantasy author

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Sue Ann--You know, my personal policy on vomiting is that if it's already happened, the clean up can just wait after whatever thing I'm currently doing. :) Now, if it's PRE-puke, that's a different story. I'll drop everything to get the kid to the bathroom and not HAVE a clean up.

Darrell--Well, the 3 year olds might evenutally be able to take care of us in our dotage...unlike our cats (bless them.) Yes, I have needy cats, too.

Lois--I've heard this too, and I can only imagine that Rowling is the root reason for it!

Alan--I'm pretty sure it IS the way we dress! Considering that I'm usually in jeans and a v-neck tee shirt (and flip flops), I'm thinking my appearance doesn't help. Maybe I should join you in pipe smoking?

Alice--The cats are going to ruin my writing career. I'm sure of it.

Keith--Wives do not appreciate window-looking! There are tables to be dusted!

Beth--It stops them cold, I bet!

Nancy--Thanks for letting me know! Will try to pop by soon!