Thank-you-in-many-languagesHave you thanked a soldier lately? Yes? Yeah, most of us have fallen into an appropriate habit of doing that (whereas we should have been doing it all along). I thanked a Sheriff’s Deputy the other day for his service. I realized as I was talking to him (after having called the police for the first time in my life) that he and his coworkers literally protect me where I live. Not to take anything away from our military—their sacrifice is beyond a simple thank you, yet many times that is all we have to give.

But that is not what this blog is about. This blog is about the following author-related question:

pageTitles_ProofreaderHave you thanked your proofreader lately?

I don’t mean the one you paid $100 to do it professionally. I’m talking about the one who always does it for you, gratis. Maybe it’s your husband or wife; maybe it’s a close friend who likes to read; maybe it is an editor/writer friend who is always there when you need them.

Recently I was involved in a multi-author short story anthology. The project was spearheaded by one of the authors (not me) and there were seven other writers (including me). Most of those involved have both noticed and lauded the “lead” author, who (as those of us who have led projects before all know) has put a LOT more effort into getting this off the ground (including writing and supplying his own story, the cover, the proofreader, the Facebook group on which we communicate, and, probably most important, the prodding and organizing and deadline-making).

1_Hard_workerAt every turn I have tried to remember to thank him for his efforts. He’s worked very hard on this. I have not used the group much. But recently, with the manuscript being put together, the deadline looming, I checked in more. And what I saw was one of the writers using the group as his own promotion platform. He posted his most recent release. And I shared it, out of habit more than anything. I always try to help a fellow writer. I commented on his posted that I had shared it (I prefer it when people let me know the same on my requests so I know who to thank and don’t inadvertently blow someone off who has taken the time to assist me).

facebook-like1Nothing. No “Like” of my share. No “Like” of my comment, or a comment of thanks in return. Not for a week. Not ever. Still. (NOTE: A Facebook “Like” is the equivalent of answering someone’s wave with a back-nod of the head—it’s the very least you can do, but at least it’s something.) Of course, Gimme-Gimme couldn’t be troubled to notice someone had done something for him, much less react to it in gracious fashion.

However, when the spearheading, hardworking author presented the first draft of the final manuscript, and everyone else was thanking him and, if necessary, asking for a minor change here or there, Gimme-Gimme was asking for his link to be changed to his Amazon buy link (NOTE: We’re trying to get into the Smashwords Premium Catalog, which, among other things, doesn’t allow for buy links to any specific vendor—and any writer who has done any serious publishing knows this). Also, this was because the hardworking author, on his own, placed a nice “author blurb” at the end of each story, including blog and/or webpage links. Not good enough for Gimme-Gimmie.

When told the Smashwords rule, GG asked that his link be changed to a recent interview (which he also pimped on the anthology group page the day before). Apparently he figures that interview really caught his good side. The ungracious one. 

My short story is actually a lead-in to a series of novellas I have planned for 2014, so I asked a while back if it was okay for me to include an Afterword quickly summarizing this fact. When Gimme-Gimme saw the Afterword (and one or two others), he pulled the classic:

“Hey, I didn’t know it was permissible to put something after our story—is there still time for me to do so?”

Yeah, he planned on doing it, too, just stopped out of consideration for others. Sounds like him, right?

fish_stickWhat a fishstick.

(That’s code for a word I like a lot better, but I am trying to be better about my blue language.)

You know what, fellow writers (and readers): don’t be a fishstick. Thank the people in your life who lend a hand. Show gratitude. Be grateful. After this past holiday I would have thought numbnuts like Gimme-Gimme would have been in a more naturally thankful state of mind. They aren’t. The takers are still the takers and the givers are still the givers.

Here’s the rub:

If you’re a taker, it’s not too late. Just covertly begin a campaign of thanking those who you now take for granted. I promise you you’ll turn the tide faster than a full moon. And you’ll feel better. Wait until you get that first “oh, wow, they noticed” look. It will make your effort more than worthwhile.

PayItForwardI try to believe that paying it forward is the answer. I don’t always succeed. I let my road rage get the better of me sometimes. I take people for granted that I shouldn’t. It isn’t always a conscious decision for many of us. Probably for most of us, even the worst offenders. Which is exactly why it takes a concerted effort—a conscious one—to turn things around.

You know the pebble and the pond. It’s cliché, but that’s the thing: most clichés come from repetitive truth or facts.

It actually does matter, what you do, what you say. Because “you” isn’t just one person. It’s 10. Or 100. Or 1,00,000 (I wish). But anyone who knows about exponential progression (2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256, 1024, 2048, 4096) knows how fast you get to five thousand. And then a million really is just around the corner. So think of your thank you as making it all the way around the world. Twice.

THAT makes it worthwhile. And it makes the silence of the milquetoast weinermeisters weaker.

And I begin by thanking you, my readers!

(There, that covers the two—now let’s go for four!)

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The blank page is dead…long live the blank page.

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Rubber Chicken Arrow Through Headv2Author known to use spontaneous satire, sarcasm, and unannounced injections of pith or witticisms which may not be suitable for humorless or otherwise jest-challenged individuals. (Witticisms not guaranteed to be witty, funny, comical, hilarious, clever, scintillating, whimsical, wise, endearing, keen, savvy, sagacious, penetrating, fanciful, or otherwise enjoyable. The Surgeon General has determined through laboratory testing that sarcasm can be dangerous, even in small amounts, and should not be ingested by those who are serious, somber, pensive, weighty, funereal, unsmiling, poker-faced, sober, or pregnant.)

 

11 Responses to Thank You. It’s Not Just For Breakfast Anymore.

  1. Thanks to my ricepaper sieve of a memory, I’m not sure if I have been thanking folks properly. So, after reading this post, Rob, I’ll start with you: Thank you so much for your time, energy, and passion in your writings. I enjoy all of them, from your novels, to your blog posts, to your facebook statuses (stati?). Also, thank you for your help with my writings. Most importantly, thanks for your friendship.

    Time for me to go thank my other friends, too. Just to be on the safe side.

    Two more things: I’m sure you have more than two readers. And, why tone down the blue language? It’s fucking awesome. 😀

    • rsguthrie says:

      Rob: first and foremost, you are most definitely NOT one of those people. Never thought so for a moment. I hate to rant (well, not really, but like the blue language, I shouldn’t. (BTW, don’t worry, that was really just a prop—fishstick came to mind, and it’s always nice to have a substitute for your favorite unseemly epitaphs for when children are around!)

      You are always welcome, my friend, and you are always the first to proffer gratitude. I wouldn’t worry too much; my bet is you’ll hear the same from everyone else!

      And thank YOU for the kind words AND for being one of the two. 😉

  2. I read advice like yours to know how to behave properly when I finish and self-publish my novel-in-progress next September.

    The last thing I want to be is an annoying self-promoter – I think that’s the net equivalent of the aggressive panhandler.

    I have a lot of gratitude for all the people who are already publishing their work, but still take the time to stop and warn/teach the newbies. It is much appreciated.

    Sorry some of your pleasure in being in the anthology was marred by someone acting entitled. It was unseemly of them – and not likely to endear them to readers, either.

    Most of us have gotten good at sussing out the promoters, and ignoring their commercials (in self-defense).

    Alicia

    • rsguthrie says:

      Well, regardless of how much fun I have ripping fishsticks new holes in their self-proclaimed wonderfulness, I really shouldn’t use my blog to rant. The sad thing is, it is the (overwhelming percentage of) good people who rise up when I do. So I think that actually makes it a good thing. Right? Double-positive? Win-win? 😉

      Thanks much for commenting, Alicia, and for the support. The world definitely needs more people (writers, especially) who heed the call to proper gratefulness for whatever success they find. We’re all in it together, and fishsticks like the one I met recently (and won’t be cuddling up to anytime soon) are, hopefully (and I believe), the exception.

      Take good care!

  3. Pamela North says:

    Completely agree. A simple thank you goes a long way.

    • rsguthrie says:

      Now see—a succinct, perfected summary that shows why I shouldn’t use an entire blog to vent my frustration (though part of it is the fun for me…sssh!)! Well-said, Pamela, and I thank and salute you. 🙂

  4. Tried sending an email via your contact page with a typo several different times with Firefox AND Safari on my Mac – it kept giving me errors.

    If you are interested, you can use abehrhardt [at] gmail to give me an email address.

    Alicia

    • rsguthrie says:

      Yes, that takes you to my rsguthrie.com page. My developer quit in the middle of creation (finished the main page and I have worked some on getting the secondary pages up to snuff) and the Contact page (unfortunately) is not one I have worked on to make functional yet! I’ll email you so you have my address. 🙂

  5. Interesting post. I think that not enough people thank proofreaders, and not enough writers realize the value of a really good proofreader. I was one of them. Until … I self-published my book and didn’t follow my editor’s advice to hire a proofreader once the book had been laid out. I didn’t realize that sometimes formatting get changed and distorted in book layout, and that hyphens and dashes can get dropped, etc. A proofreader would have caught those little things and saved me paying the printer to correct the affected pages on the second go-round.

    You and I are on the same wavelength. So much so, that a few days ago, I ad asked a proofreader friend of mine to write a guest post on my writer’s blog about the value/importance of proofreading. It should be on my blog in a couple of days. If you subscribe, you won’t miss it!

    • rsguthrie says:

      The funny thing is, no one is immune from needing a proofreader. When I blog, for instance, my wife normally reads it first and makes corrections. Occasionally there are no typos, but usually she finds 2-3. I leave the edit window open and she just corrects them. Good enough for a blog. Blog comments, however? I rarely proof them, and it drives me crazy when I go back and read them, post-posting, and find 2-3 typos. Yours above has a couple. But they’re just TYPOS. People act as if writers don’t know the difference between “it’s” and “its”, or “there” & “they’re” (and “their”), or “and” & “an” (I’ll admit: some don’t—but if they don’t, a pattern you shall see!). Unwarranted criticism of typos bothers me more than anything—when someone seemingly, politely, corrects a “typo”, but then goes on to tell you what the difference is between the two words, they are not acquiescing to the “typo” (or they are, at least, showing off).

      A typo is just that. A fat-finger or a typing habit (I have several of the latter, “and” for “an” being one)!

      The irony is most grammar experts I have met cannot write a beautiful sentence or paragraph, much less a spellbinding novel that people want to read. The thing too many “writers” don’t realize (in addition to the need for, and to thank, proofreaders) is that grammar and syntax combine for only a fraction of what makes a great novel (or even short story) great. It’s like understanding how to read sheet music and thinking that makes a person Louis Armstrong or Pete Fountain. Amazing writing is less about the rules and more about having either a natural or a well-learned eye for succinct, salacious, (un)sanctimonious storytelling. (And a writer can’t just alliterate their way into delectable prose!) 😉

      I’ll check out your blog’s guest proofreader! Sounds like we were definitely thinking the same thing at the same time. Thanks much for the read and the excellent commentary, Doreen!

  6. Gail Gentry says:

    Rob, you are the most gracious, grateful, and giving person I know. It didn’t surprise me when I saw this blog and your message on the power of the words “thank you;” and, paying it forward. Your ending summed it up perfectly that to say a word of thanks out loud, makes the scrooges of the world not only weaker but invisible.

    I can never say thank you enough for being a mentor, adviser, confidant, and most importantly, a friend to me. I keep your book, INK, on my desk and it is well-worn from reading and then reading again. Between INK and this blog, you have shown that your generosity of sharing your knowledge of writing and marketing has no limits and I thank you for that also.

    To Doreen who left a comment here earlier, I’ll be watching for that post from your Proofreader 🙂

    A Proofreader is indeed a valuable tool every writer should use. What a lot of people don’t understand, though, is that even after a writer has read their manuscript over and over, their Editor and a Proofreader, there can still be a couple of typos that slip through to the finished product but having a Proofreader will guarantee any typos found will be minimal rather than multiple. I read a blog somewhere on proofreading and I’ve never forgotten something that was mentioned: A Proofreader finishes where the Editor left off. They are definitely due a big thank you at the end.

    Rob, one last thing – you’ve always been humble by thanking your readers. I thank you for that as well. Even when those few readers who, as you pointed out, politely give unwarranted and particularly unsolicited critiques, you are the consummate professional by overlooking their rude behavior. I only hope that when I’m published and ever face such lack of etiquette, that I can exhibit your same patience.

    Another great post….THANK YOU!

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