Diamond State Romance Authors

Your Word is Your Bond

This morning the lead speaker at a local RWA chapter’s weekend retreat backed out of speaking. Her reasoning? She didn’t think she’d sell enough of her books. She usually requires $1500 speaker’s fee and this chapter was paying her $75 +room and board. It simply wasn’t worth her time and effort to go, even though she’d agreed to headline.

At a conference I attended, a “Big Name” author was brought in to give a talk during a meal. Big Name author wrote her talk and was ready to go. But the night before, she was told, Sorry. You can’t speak. The meal was being sponsored by a group of authors who’d banned together to pay for the meal and they wanted to be the focus of that time, not Big Name Speaker. Now, I agree with the group of authors. THEY were the sponsors of that segment of the conference, not the chapter. Big Name Speaker had been engaged by the chapter and now she had nothing to do. Oh, they told her she could give her talk at the pool party! Instead of shuffling the schedule just a tad to make a time for Big Name Speaker, they basically dissed her. (and some of us were there at the conference JUST to hear this person!) So attendees lost. Big Name Speaker lost. Group of sponsoring authors were put into a difficult situation. And, IMHO, the reputation of this conference just suffered a reputation blow.

You sign a contract to produce a book by a certain date. That date rolls around and gosh, I’m sorry but I’ve been so busy, I haven’t finished.

You agree to be a chapter officer, or volunteer to chair a committee, and then….poof! You disappear, not doing your job. I’ve seen this happen on the local and national level.

Last weekend, our chapter had the pleasure of hearing Kerri-Leigh Grady, Editor for Entangled Publisher speak. (If you are a regular reader of this blog, you are aware of how fantastic her talk was.) We didn’t bring Kerri-Leigh in. She was going to be in the state on family business so we worked with her to speak to use and adjusted our meeting day. As it turns out, she didn’t have to come to our little state after all. No family visit due to some changes with work. But did she cancel on us? No she did not. She came anyway, just like she said she would. And she could have canceled (i.e. Sorry gang. My travel plans fell through and I’m not coming to Arkansas. Maybe next time?) and I swear, we would have all understood. Been disappointed by understood.

Do you see the point I’m trying to make? As a PROFESSIONAL writer, you have to act professionally. You can’t just CLAIM to be a professional and then act in an irresponsible manner. If you give your word–be it for a writing contract, a speaking contract, head up an important job or committee–then you not only let down the people depending on you, you will irreparably damage your reputation within the community. Trust me when I say that writing committee is small. Gossip flows like water downhill.

As for Kerri-Leigh Grady, I cannot begin to express how impressed I was with her. Not only as a speaker but as I person. She presented herself and Entangled Publishing in the most favorable light. I can’t wait to send her something on spec because I know her to be a woman of her word. Her word (agreement to speak) was her bond.

Thank you, Kerri-Leigh.

And for the rest of you…remember the lesson Kerri-Leigh taught us. You give your word, then you’ve given your bond.