It used to be the way it was in more industries than that. I remember filling out my college application with extreme caution because it had to be “just right” and scratch outs weren’t allowed. In fact, I did it right and my parents and I were still concerned that there might be some chance things would go awry despite our best efforts to get it right. The University was so strict on adherence to the rules that I was paranoid I might have missed something. Like the publishing industry, following the instructions was their first screening process. If you couldn’t do that, then it was clear to them that you didn’t belong there, and they didn’t waste any more time on you.
Somewhere along the line that changed, and I’m not sure how or why. No doubt, enough people crying “everybody makes mistakes and needs a second chance!” probably had something to do with it. The problem is that too many places have become patient to these indiscretions, and the standard is dropping. In fact, people are now blatantly ignoring the parts of the instructions they don’t like based on the “oops” argument (oops, was that there? Didn’t think you’d notice that I just skipped it. I mean, honest mistake. I’ll do over and it’s alright).
Now don’t get me wrong. God knows people are perfect and we all need second chances. The problem is that people are taking advantage of those second chances by trying to manipulate them into what they want things to be instead of what they are, and that’s not excusable under any circumstances. Here’s an example: Over the past month, I’ve returned an average of three things per week due to failure to follow instructions. The problem is, in every case I know they did read the directions. They followed every one of them; except the ones they didn’t like. The “oops” argument was applied to the more detailed parts that people were just too lazy to do it right the first time, and they thought I wouldn’t notice. They didn’t realize that if it’s a top requirement in bold red print, then I will notice. And furthermore, it’s my duty as the gatekeeper to pick it apart before it’s allowed to go any further. Those instructions are based on what the people actually making the decisions need in order to do things right. If you skip things, then it can go no further. They delayed themselves because the request for further action means that things won’t be able to move anywhere from here until they do it right, and in some cases that’s going to mean a potential delay of months due to schedules and upcoming deadlines for other things that will have to take precedence. That’s sad too, because it’s not necessary. That time could have been better spent doing it right the first time. And, of course, it casts doubt in my mind because if they want to cut corners here, then are they serious in doing what they’re applying to do right? It causes question to their standards in places where that attentiveness could be critical to the safety of a lot of people.
I’m not saying this is a model that needs to be applied everywhere, but I certainly believe it should be applied more places, and it needs to be taught early, while children are in school. Because when you know that you’ve got one shot to get what you want, you tend to take more time and care in doing things right. It might take more time, but in the long run it pays off because doing things right the first time saves you time and gains the respect of the people you’re working with by demonstrating that you care about the process and not wasting their time with excuses or shenanagins. It’s like me with the college application. My fastidiousness with that paid off. I was accepted to the college of my choice on the first round and graduated with honors four years later, because I knew they wouldn’t put up with nonsense or excuses out of their students.
So yes, the publishing industry still does one thing right. They know they’re the royality of their kingdom and expect to be respected as such. In this industry, you can run but you can’t hide. There’s no place in the publishing industry, mainstream, epublishing or self publishing, where you’re instantly rejected if you don’t follow the rules to the letter. That’s why only the strong, persistent people that are willing to learn,grow, and respect the system survive.
If only more places held to that standard. Oh, how the ranks at the middle and high levels would be culled because only the ones with respect for the system and dedication to doing things right would survive.
That’s all today. Have a Happy Friday tomorrow and a great weekend.