Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Keeping it Professional

Rue de Rennes Paris, 1920--mario-tozzi-1895-1979 Sometimes it’s a challenge to act like you’re a professional person when you write.

People don’t really get writing, sometimes. They know we’re at home, but they really don’t know what we’re doing there.

And children can make it difficult to be professional.

When I upgraded my cell phone and gave my son the old phone, I had no idea that the contact list would still be there, even though we’d gotten a new phone number assigned to the phone. He was busily thumbing through, adding contacts to his directory (all 7th graders) and said, “Hey. Who’s Ellen?”

“Ellen? Ellen is my agent. Hey…give me that phone!”

And then my 3rd grade daughter, who tried to make me change my profile picture on my Gmail account so it would have kittens on it.

I’ve no problem with kittens. I love cats, actually. But a book cover would be a better choice for my particular books.

Then, of course, there was the radio interview where my daughter knocked on my locked bedroom door for 20 minutes.

Still, I’m trying hard to portray myself as a serious professional.

Things that help:

  • Business cards.
  • A snappy, interesting one or two sentence summary of your book, if someone asks what it’s about. (Think of it like a pitch.)
  • Introducing yourself as a writer (this is a tough one. I’m working on it.)
  • A professional-sounding email, Twitter, Facebook account. My email is my name, and so is my Twitter account and Facebook. I have two Facebook accounts---one professional and one personal. This keeps me from feeling irritated when old sorority sisters post pictures of me from 1989.
  • My voice mail message sounds professional.
  • A website. This is important, even if your book isn’t out yet. Make sure your contact info isn’t buried on there.
  • Respecting our writing time and asking others to do so, too.
  • Making sure our children know when we’re about to be on an important phone call.

Alan Orloff had a wonderful idea for keeping children away when you need to work. He puts a sign on his office door that says: Please come in so we can get started on chores.