At least three times a month, usually more, someone asks if I would be interested in contributing to some sort of writing project. These requests vary from the inconsequential to the significant, the latter involving large companies or institutions, legal contracts, considerable compensation, and various contingent legal commitments.
No matter what the request, my manager takes care of all requests, proposals and inquiries. That is his job. That is what we pay him for. That is his mandate, which I will not undermine just because the requester is connected to me on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter.
I live and work in two worlds and in the corridor between them: the entertainment industry and the publishing industry in which, in real life, I know no one in either business who does not have an agent, a manager or a lawyer (and usually all three, sometimes in one person), whose job it is to negotiate all interactions, agreements, terms and contracts.
This is how professionals work in my world. This is normal. “The talent”, as writers/actors/musicians, etc. are called in the creative industries, do not negotiate agreements with the person who requests their services. Period.
Whenever I get a request, I pass it on to my business manager, who then may or may not, depending on the nature of the request, meet with my agent or lawyer or both. If the request is a simple one – like an online interview, he usually writes to the person requesting it, or if the request comes from a close colleague or friend, just discusses it with me and I respond to that person.
Again – this is normal business procedure in the real world. Professionals understand this. Amateurs do not. ‘Amateurs’, in this case, does not mean those who have small enterpises, limitied followings or have simply personal ambitions – just to those who have small minds.
In the last year, I’ve had many requests of all kinds, all passed on to my manager. In every case but one, the requester, whether the request was large or small, accepted or turned down, was professional, courteous and au fait with the procedure.
In one case only, did the requester respond to my manager’s simple enquiry with petulance, childishness and a silly retaliatory act. The request was to include my work in a book. My manager asked if the book was a for profit venture, in which case, writers must be paid, or a non-profit venture, in which he would leave it up to me to decide whether or not to contribute my work. The requester responded like a five year old saying essentially, Okay we WON’T include Harrison’s work, then. [So there!]
This happens rarely, but it does happen. Although we had a little laugh about it, my manager repeated what he has often said to me: “How many times have I told you not to deal with #(($^@*^ amateurs?”
I’m often asked to give writing advice. I never do.* But if I were to give any advice related to writing, I’d pass along my manager's rhetorical question above.
~ Harrison Solow
*except of course to my students, attendees of my writing workshops, professional clients and my own circle of writer-friends and colleagues (*if* they ask).
Causes Harrison Solow Supports
Lupus Foundation of America
Museum of Tolerance