Tuesday, July 6, 2010

DC4W: Give Honest and Sincere Appreciation

Technique Tuesday

Continuing with the Fundamental Techniques in Handling People, the first section in Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People, the second principle is, "Give honest and sincere appreciation."

I made the case in our discussion of the first principle last week that as writers we must never feel as though we're entitled to attention (and publication) simply because we've written a book. If that idea is firmly established in your mind then you're well on the way to giving honest and sincere appreciation.

First, those of us who write (or attempt to write) are afforded a privilege denied to a substantial portion of the world's population: we have food, shelter, opportunity, and a sufficiently stimulating environment that collectively give us the ability to write and something interesting to write about.

Second, we have people around us who support our writing.

Third, in a world where a million other things compete for people's attention, there are the people who take their time to read what we write. To misappropriate Walt Whitman, no one is obliged to respond if we sound our "barbaric yop" across the world. That someone chooses to do so is a gift.

I doubt anyone would disagree that we, as writers, ought to give all these people our honest and sincere appreciation.

Even in the ultimately self-interested world of commercial publishing, the time and attention of a professional is something to be appreciated. A form rejection doesn't tell you much, but compared to silence it at least gives you some data on the people who may not respond to your work.

If, after all of this, you're still not convinced that giving honest and sincere appreciation is the right thing to do as a matter of principle, then consider this: all other things being equal, agents, editors, and even publishers will choose to do business with the author who comes across as pleasant and personable (because, believe it or not, those publishing industry professionals are human too). Giving honest and sincere appreciation is one of the most effective ways to be the author with whom they'll want to do business.


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