Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Ally Carter Advice

I like Ally Carter's blog because she is such a real author to me. I find myself reading it and nodding my head going, "Dude! I totally do that!" Well, the last week or so she has been doing 101 tips for aspiring authors (which is just beyond crazy!) And most of the advice was run of the mill. Good--and often great--advice, but advice I've heard before. But then I stumbled upon this one.

"When attending industry events, dress and act like someone a business can feel comfortable entrusting with a large sum of money."

I was totally struck by this!!! Isn't that the dream of every aspiring and even most published authors? To have a publisher say, "Gee, we love your book. We have a Swift Truck full of money outside our building right now; may we send it your way?" But anytime I have ever thought of that it has been from my point of view. The "OMG they have publishing power and i just want them to dole a little scoop of it out for meeee!" kind of thing.

I don't ever think of it from the editor or publisher's point of view. This little tip made me do just that. Do you ever wonder if an editor thinks about that? I'm sure they do. They probably sit and think about this awesome book on their desk and go, "I want to offer a bajillion dollars for this book, but will the author do good revisions? Will they be willing to promote? Will they be a total prima dona? Do they have three arms? Will their next book be this good? Can I even justify offering for more than one book?" These are all things that an editor does not know until . . . well, until the deal is done and often not until it's published.

Makes me want to wear an elegant black dress to my next writer's function and hand out super-professional business cards and maybe flash my husband's law school insignia.

And above all, it makes me hope my editor, when she met me last month, had a moment in her office later and thought--just for a second--"Dude, she was totally worth it!"



tomdg said...

That is a great point. Although I'm not sure about mentioning the law school thing - you don't want to look overly litigious at this early stage in your relationship :)

Anonymous said...

I think Ally's advice is spot on. Let's face it, human nature is such that we almost always judge by appearances, especially if we don't know the person well. If you look and act professional, you're going to be taken more seriously. Example: When my mom wants to go shopping and not have any salespeople bother her, she wears jeans and a t-shirt. It works. She might be asked once if she needs help but not over and over again. And then she makes some big purchase and they're shocked.

I hope do one day even have the opportunity. Too bad you can't meet an agent in person, looking all professional, and hand them your manuscript and say: See, I really am serious, I'm not weird, I'll work really hard, etc...only in our dreams.

cindy said...

that's my plan exactly for the next conference! =D only i bought scary high heels and i hope i don't fall into the pool. hee!

ORION said...

This is really apt. Without naming names I have been at BIG functions recently and saw an author dress and deport themselves in a less than professional manner and no it was not promotional and not an RWA convention -- they stood out and not in a good way.
You don't have to be beautiful or graceful but it does not IMHO pay to be arrogant.
SO looking forward to meeting you in August!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I get your point, and unfortunately it may be true. judging people by their clothes is a silly thing done in business, but we would hope writers don't agree with them. most of the best writers lived in poverty. James Paterson is rich. you do the math. the best art doesn't usually produce the most money. and the people wearing the best clothes are usually the most shallow. wel, they are business people, aren't they? haha. I don't mean this entirly seriously, but I do remember reaading Plato, and most philosophers consider business people total selfserving garbage. they run the world, but not too well, it seems.

Sheila said...

I have a question for you, do you know what the required dress will be for the "Writing for Charity" event? I will be heading down from the mountains after camping, "ewww" and I may not smell too nice, but I want to be dressed appropriately.

You have made a very valid point that I agree with, first impressions count. You may never have another opportunity to meet someone again, so you want to make the "right" first impression. Thanks so much for sharing this info!! ~~Sheila

John Elder Robison said...

I think that's true. Did you know that million-dollar first book advances are given - almost exclusively - to millionaires?

It's true.

It's easy to dismiss that fact and say, "He got that big advance because he's the senator/president/famous preacher/etc" but the truth is, some people look valuable.

Dress can matter, especially in first meetings.

Maprilynne said...


I believe the dress is just casual. Can't wait to see you!

John, that is a really interesting point!

Jamie Ford said...

Great points. When I went to Random House, I really fretted over what to wear. Not too dressy, but not too casual--that kind of thing. I just HAD to dress up. When I stepped off the elevator and into a boardroom full of people, I was sooooo glad I did.

cuileann said...

I love Ally Carter's blog too. :)

A Curse Dark as Gold came today, and its bookplate yesterday. I was squealing like a fangirl and I keep taking it off the shelf and admiring it (especially the endpaper with the bookplate!). Thanks again so much for hosting the giveaway!

Elizabeth said...

love this!