In the course of reading my blogroll over the holiday weekend, I came across this post from MoonRat over at Editorial Ass. You should really read it, but the long and the short of it is that some author shot himself in the foot by suggesting, repeatedly and vociferously, that Someone More Important Than MoonRat should be looking at his book.


Which leads me to the first rule in my occasional series Jay Has a Rule.

Rule One: Be Nice To The Receptionist.

In my Real Life, I'm a lawyer. For those of you who haven't had the personal pleasure of knowing a lawyer, the legal profession has more than its fair share of Jerks Who Think They Are More Important Than You. The guy who cuts you off on the highway? The woman who screams at the server when she gets ice in her drink and she "specifically said no ice!"? The man who gives you a dirty look when he bumps into you on the sidewalk because he's yapping on his phone? I bet you ten bucks two out of three of them are lawyers.

I have my theories about why this is true, but this post is neither the time nor the place. The point is that these people are rude. Especially to people they think are beneath them (which is most everyone). But my personal experience is that being nice to people who are "beneath me"* is likely to get me better results that being a jerk to them.

Don't get me wrong--I'm not one of those "catch more flies with honey" people. I don't have that in me. I'm less "sugar and spice" and more "walk softly and carry a big stick." More than one opposing counsel has muttered an unflattering name as I left the conference room, and one hapless guy accidentally forwarded me an email in which he referred to me as a "b**ch on wheels." It's all part of the territory of being a woman lawyer--my job is to represent my client, and if that means I have to break a few eggs**, well, that's what I get paid for.

But I've never had a receptionist refuse to take my message, or a server spit in my Coke (that I know of shiver), or made a secretary cry. That is NOT part of the job description. These people, I am nice to.

And this rule applies to waitstaff, and janitors, and customer service representatives, and everyone who some people would consider "beneath me."

So if I had been in this conversation with MoonRat, who is an editor, but not the Most Important Editor where she works, I might have asked her if Most Important Editor had read my project. Because as the author, I would want to know. (I would hope, in my heart of hearts, that he had, that the whole company had, that they couldn't put it down, because it was Too Awesome For Words, and they were going to pay me a BILLION DOLLAR advance, which, of course, I would earn out). But when she said no, I would have let it drop, because to do otherwise would be to suggest that she was "beneath me," which she is not.

That's what this author did. Not intentionally, assuming MoonRat's account is accurate, but still. He suggested that he was too important to go through the standard process involving the MoonRat step, and should instead be given a pass straight to the front of the line. Sorry, man, but no. And I hope that your agent smacked you upside the head after that meeting because you just made her job a lot harder.*** You couldn't have screwed it up more unless you were a lawyer. :)

*whatever that means. I mean, really. What is this? 18th century England, for Pete's sake?

**heh. How many cliches can I work into this post, anyway? What is this? Number 5?

***I do not know who this author is, or his agent. MoonRat indicates that the author is male and I'm playing the odds guessing that his agent is female.


The easiest way to ensure that you don't get your way in life is to irritate the support staff at any job. These people are the cogs, gears, what-have-you, that really turn the wheels. I always tell my friends: be nice to the people at the bottom of the totem pole if you want anything to get done.

For the record, it's hard to imagine that anybody thought you were difficult to deal with during any negotiations. You're such a pussycat! OK, it's not THAT hard to imagine . . .

By the way, I love these "word verification" features to post comments: it's NEVER a word. Perhaps it should be called "random letter verification." Some day, it's going to be a word and I'm going to be surprised.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008 at 12:41:00 PM EDT  

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