marketing, networking

Guest Blog: C. Hope Clark on Professionalism

It’s my honor to enjoy C. Hope Clark’s friendship. She is one of the most professional individuals I’ve ever met, and she’s also a stellar author and business mentor. Today, I’m thrilled to use my blog to share her thoughts on being a writing professional.

Ten Basic, No-Brainer-But-We-Forget Advice Tips on Writing Professionalism

By C. Hope Clark

Sometimes being successful as a writer isn’t about splash and flash in the media or banners in an auditorium. A writer’s first goal is to write the good story. Their second is to sell lots of copies of that story. But somewhere between publishing the book and praying for that first royalty check, we often forget the simplest, most common-sense tips that can help make the sales in between. And they all have to do with professionalism.

None of us are worthy of diva-hood. With the intense competition in this industry, we cannot afford to alienate others or leave a bad impression, so, let’s cover the top ten advice tips on proper writer behavior whether in front of or behind the scenes.

  • Be kind. Karma will make sure you come back and meet anyone you wronged coming up the ladder. Count on it. Be polite. Everyone struggles hard in this business, so try to remember that when a reader, writer, editor, agent or publisher isn’t quite so nice. That also means don’t snub the newbie who asks the off-the-wall question. Look at everyone as a potential supporter and treat them with care and kindness.
  • Take advice (and criticism) with a smile. Like a new mom with an infant, you’ll receive gobs of advice on what, when, and how to do your job. Just say thank you and move on, using the advice only if you wish. Be glad they offered. Be glad they even know who you are and care enough to dole out their advice.
  • Keep your religion and politics to yourself. Some may consider this advice traitorous to the cause-of-the-day, especially since flaming and protesting are the fad. But unless you are a religious or political writer, hold your opinions close to your chest. This gives your readers permission to be safe in the world you have carved out on Facebook, your website, your newsletter, or listgroup. Most of the time readers just want a good book, you know? For many, your opinion is a turnoff, and a bit exhausting.
  • Answer your mail. Whether email, Messenger, Tweets, or blog comments, be ever ready to respond. You love your readers, so show them. And they’ll intensely love you back if you promptly respond to their queries. Most writers don’t. And professionals in the business don’t like being kept waiting. Be the one who cares.
  • Maintain your online presence. Whether Amazon Central, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, a website or blog, insure wherever you manage a presence is up to date. Better to take a blog down than the last post be six months old. By remaining current, you show you’re on your game, doing well, and oozing success. Even if you don’t make $300 a month writing, your online face needs to shine as if you made ten grand.
  • Keep deadlines. Doesn’t matter whether a deadline belongs to a top shelf agent, a small press publisher, or that unknown blog you pitched, you respond on time if not early. Reliability needs to be your middle name. You are dependable, consistent, and aiming to please. Inherent in your very fabric, these words define you, and everyone who hears your name relaxes and relies on your follow-through.
  • Maintain a standard. If you regularly give your writing away, you earn that reputation. However, if you decline (politely) in order to reinforce your standard, you become respected for it. Maybe you dress sharp, command an honorarium, design remarkable covers, or deliver flawless manuscripts. Determine your standards and hold yourself to them.
  • Never appear cheap. If you argue with people who asked for a book copy and never wrote the review, you only sound cheap. Come armed with swag at a conference and don’t be chintzy with it. If you bring books, bring enough to demonstrate you’re accustomed to selling that many. Fork out the bucks for a banner. Show up professionally groomed. Hire a webmaster unless you’re trained in websites. Pay for editing. Drop a few dollars on your cover design. The moment you fall back for second- or third best, someone notices, and you fall from grace.
  • Search to compliment others. Whether via email, phone, or in person, attempt to seek some way to make the other person feel good. Let them walk away remembering that you noticed them. They’ll carry that thought for a long, long time.
  • Never stop thanking people. And if you are dealing with someone in person, make eye contact, smile, and shake a hand (with a grip, please). Be grateful these people come into your life. Thank people for their time, their rejection, their replies, and their consideration. Anyone giving you their attention does so at a cost of giving it elsewhere. Be happy for it and show them how you feel.

Yes, these are common sense, no-brainer tips. However, across the ether, throughout Amazon, in bookstores, libraries, and book clubs everywhere, there are authors forgetting not one but most of these elementary rules. And they aren’t selling books or getting hired.

Ever meet someone and admire how they carry themselves? Ever walked away with a warm enjoyment that you just shared your life with them and benefited from the experience? Yes, that needs to be you. Someone who carries a positive, professional demeanor with an admirable work ethic. It’s magic. And it takes so little of your attention to make it a part of your package.

BIO: C. Hope Clark’s newest release is Newberry Sin, set in an idyllic small Southern town where blackmail and sex are hush-hush until them become murder. The fourth in the Carolina Slade Mysteries. Hope speaks to conferences, libraries, and book clubs across the country, is a regular podcaster for Writer’s Digest, and adores connecting with others. She is also founder of, an award-winning site and newsletter service for writers.  She lives on the banks of Lake Murray in central South Carolina with her federal agent husband.






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7 thoughts on “Guest Blog: C. Hope Clark on Professionalism”

  1. Thanks for posting this, Gina. Professionalism is very important. Readers need to feel appreciated most importantly, so when they email, ALWAYS respond. But I rarely expect an answer back so it’s nice to hear the occasional thanks. Most are usually amazed I even responded at all! But professionalism carries you a long way in terms of agents, publishers, bookstore owners, etc. Being polite and professional stands out these days in a time where so many people are too busy.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve had where people send me emails with a professional question. I’ll spend a good deal of time writing up a response, and then I never hear back from them. I’m left wondering, “Did they get my email? Were they not happy with my answer?”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Absolutely true! Yet, I run across people who don’t observe the simple things. I think people who don’t answer business emails promptly irritates me as much as anything.


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