Helpful communications

To make my communications enjoyable and rewarding, I find the following ideas help me.  You will of course have your own ideas, and I would be pleased to hear about them.


  • Do keep a note of whom you have written to, and when you sent your enquiry.

You may not hear back, but at least you will remember.  If and when you receive a reply, it is your choice whether to make up a file of rejection slips, or file it in the bin and write if off to experience.  But do keep a note, so you won’t submit twice to the same agency

  • Do not expect any acknowledgement.
  • Do not telephone agents to ask if they have received your submission.
  • Do not write and ask, unless you know your contact well .

As someone who was brought up in business to always acknowledge receipt of important papers (and to us, our submissions are very important), the realisation that no “thank you” would be forthcoming, has been hard to adapt to.  How did I know they had received my letters?  Did they like what I had sent?

Agents and publishers simply do not have the time to acknowledge everything they receive.  They are busy drumming up business, editing and publishing.  Do yourself a favour and accept that this is how the world is.

For the sake of our sanity, we learn to live with a most soothing assumption, which is that all our communications do arrive at their destination and are properly read and fully considered.  As I said earlier, any agent who sees potential in your work will certainly contact you quickly.  For the rest, send off your best (and don’t forget to stick on the right postage!) and then get on with your life.

Electronic communications are easy, and sending emails is quick and trouble free.  No stamps, no envelopes.  But because it is easy, does not mean that we can afford to be careless.  Quite the reverse is true.  Because we can assume that an email will land in someone’s IN box when they are busy, we should take extra pains to ensure that we write carefully, tactfully and to the point.

  • Do always assume that everything posted on-line, whether in a private email or to an on-line forum, can be viewed by anyone else, anytime, anywhere.


  • Do Decide that your on-line reputation is important to you, and that you will exercise gentleness and restraint when communicating with others.
  • Do Assume that your emails are as important as letters, and take the time to edit them carefully for brevity and clarity.
  • Don’t press the ‘send’ button when you are in a bad mood, tired, doubtful, having a crisis, hungry or disappointed.  You can’t retrieve a letter from an in-box in the way that you can tear up snail mail on your walk down to the post box.
  • It is a mistake to assume that no-one notices or cares.  The truth is that, seen up on screen, a hurtful jibe or careless criticism disguised as ‘honest feedback’ can be immensely hurtful.
  • Don’t get caught up in the blame game.
  • If a troll gets hold of your account and starts to insult you, send them a smiley reply and ignore the rest.
  • Some people enjoy making trouble, and it will not help you to become like them.

Thanks for reading! I appreciate all your comments and feedback.

Der Bucherwurm, 1904
Der Bucherwurm, 1904

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