Pub Rants

The Power Of Nice!

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STATUS: Getting some new projects ready to go out on submission. There’s always so much excitement when the process is starting.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? BELIEVE by Cher

I’ve blogged about this before so y’all know that one of my pet peeves is writers having the assumption that if an agent is nice, they can’t be a tiger in negotiations. That only mean and nastily aggressive agents get the good deals.

Well, I was watching the Today show while doing the elliptical runner this morning and darn if there weren’t two powerful women being interviewed about a book they wrote about me.

Okay, so it really isn’t about me but I almost cheered in the workout room because their book is entitled THE POWER OF NICE: HOW TO CONQUER THE BUSINESS WORLD WITH KINDNESS. Something I’ve been doing for years and now there’s a book that validates my modus operandi.

Foreword by Mr. Nice Guy Jay Leno to boot.

Sure, the bitch bosses get the spotlight (think Meryl Streep as Miranda Priestly in DEVIL WEARS PRADA) but it’s the nice gal who will eventually win the day and the long-term success according to Thaler and Koval.

Donald Trump weighs in with this nugget, “For my money, I would always rather make a deal with people I like who treat me well. If you want to discover the surprising power of nice, read this book. Memorize it. Use it. You’ll be glad you did.”

Guess what? Editors want to be treated well too. They don’t want to be browbeaten or yelled at during negotiations. They don’t want to be taken advantage of or made to feel defensive. In fact, I was chatting with an editor recently who now refuses to work with a particular agent. It doesn’t matter what project this agent has or if the book is the next huge bestseller; it’s not worth dealing with a moody, changeable, aggressive, nasty agent to have the author. She flatly refuses to do so.

So yes, I believe in the power of nice. And I believe that approach makes me a very powerful, successful, and well-liked agent.

32 Responses

  1. lainey bancroft said:

    Like my grandmother always said, “You catch more flies with honey than vinegar.”

    I know in my ‘day job’ getting rude and aggressive with me only moves you in the wrong direction on my scheduling list.

  2. The Unpretentious Writer said:

    Even your rejection letter is nice…in fact, Miss Snark was talking about your niceness on her blog, and it was her glowing recommendation that led to me querying you. All-around professional courtesy is so much better than a curt, unsigned form letter, and know that it’s much appreciated.

  3. Tawna Fenske said:

    If only you were available to sit down with some of the VPs at my day job to share these pearls of wisdom!

    Thanks, as always, for the insightful post.

    (really wishing I knew the name of the agent the editor refuses to work with so I can avoid querying him or her!)

  4. MTV said:

    Kristin –

    I’m glad the *The Landmark Forum* validated who you are! Nice can also be part of a win-win attitude. And why not, right? For anyone to presume that nice means being willing to be taken advantage of, watch out, the meek shall inherit the earth, not because they are meek but because they respect all that is.

  5. Jana Oliver said:

    When you’re nice the majority of the time, people listen when you have to growl about something. Since it’s unusual, it captures their attention.

    I’ve met some very nice, yet very persuasive folks in my life. In fact, I married one.

  6. chisem said:

    And now for a serious comment. In a four decade career as a journalist I discovered that you got more interviews during high stress news events when you are sincere and nice. People — including executives — can read “sincere and nice,” especially when under adverse circumstances. Being nice doesn’t make a person a patsy but stronger for the strength of character and belief.
    I’ve always believed you can get more flies with honey than vinagar.
    Nice is sorely missing in this world.
    Good for you Kristen.

  7. Lexie Ward said:

    I look forward to reading this book. One of the best things my father ever did for me when I was a teenager was have me read HOW TO WIN FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE by Dale Carnegie, which lays the same kind of foundation I imagine this book will. People always respond better to someone who is genuinely interested in them and who treats them like a valuable human being. The bully may get his way right up front, but in the end, people will rebel against him the first chance they get–either through open hostility or avoidance.

  8. Kimber An said:

    Oh, I agree with niceness. Having my partial rejected by Kristin was wonderful! I was able to focus my theme and polish my first few pages because of her. And, now, I have another request from a partial. There’s just so much to learn in this business!

  9. Anonymous said:

    I’m so glad the era of getting in touch with our inner “boardroom bitch” is coming to a close. I like being nice. I’m GOOD at this! Apparently, so are you. 🙂

  10. Anonymous said:

    I got hold of a copy a few weeks ago and found it to be quite interesting. Even the cover screams nice and makes you want to smile.

    My copy arrived with a big packet of M & M’s. A big yellow smiley face covered the outside packaging. Who can argue with a smile and chocolate?

  11. Anonymous said:

    In the arena of negotiation and business, anyone who gets personal has already lost in their mind.

    It’s cool. You can see that they’ve already decided HOW things are going to go off course and disfavor them. So they do all sorts of stupid things. Like demands, make accusations, and lie. That’s right. Lie.

    And so I just wait, let them make their points and just to make things worse, if it’s applicable I say something nice about their skills. I watch them fall apart. I agree that the situation is unfortunate. I watch them shrink a bit more. Then I give them a percentage of what they came in for, and nothing more. Because I’m nice, they never knew how little they’ve settled for.

  12. Wonderwood said:

    See how the idea for a book can just be sitting out there? Being nice is not a new concept, even in business. It’s been around since before the golden rule was written. I’ve practiced it for most of my life, or at least tried. Angry, moody, aggressive people are a vexation to the spirit (paraphrase from Desiderada). So someone sits down and writes a book about it. And it gets published! Nice people will buy it because it validates their philosophy. I wish I’d have thought of it, but I probably wouldn’t have been able to get it published, I’m too nice.

    And I agree with chisem, I usually swat the flies away from my honey.

  13. Julie said:

    Jana said:
    When you’re nice the majority of the time, people listen when you have to growl about something. Since it’s unusual, it captures their attention.

    You know, I think she’s right. I am “nice” 99.9% of the time in my consulting work, but today I had to be a brat to get what I needed from my client. What a pleasant surprise–it worked. Fast. 🙂

    And to think I always thought it kind of insulting whenever I was in one of those teambuilding activities where people had to say one word to describe me, and it was always “nice.” Made me feel kind of wimpy that I wasn’t something more glamorous. What a relief.

  14. Anonymous said:

    We won’t do business with certain companies for the same reason. If they’re going to stick it to you in the end, what’s the point? One trip to the lawyer eats up lots of profit and helps only the lawyer’s bottom line. My experience is that the really nasty people have a tendency to put themselves in early graves. The poison slowly eats them from the inside out.

  15. katiesandwich said:

    A speaker I met at a writer’s conference in April told us her grandmother’s favorite advice: It’s nice to be smart, but it’s smart to be nice. Can’t argue that!

  16. Michele Lee said:

    The opposite it true as well. There is an agency that has a blog. The other day someone posted on it a slightly snarky message that equated to “we have been online giving advice for years and yet people are still holding the opinion of the anonymous and possibly lying Miss snark over our advice.”
    Now I was a little “eh” about this place anyway, but that sealed it for me. Just a little too much resentfulness there for me. I knew at that point it was unlikely that I would get along with the agency as is needed in a relationship like that.

  17. Michele Lee said:

    In case you’re at a loss for something to write about 🙂
    I hear beginning writers all the time say they’re saving their rejects so that after they get that big book deal they can mail all the agents that rejected them and rub it in their faces. But, does anyone ever actually attempt this?

  18. kuvazton said:

    Don’t let the Writer’s insecurities dictate your thoughts, not even for a second. Your history stands for itself. I hope your new projects go the way you desire.

    Looking forward to your nice rejection.

  19. Sherry Thomas said:

    As for the pure bunk of nice agents can’t get great deals, people should just ask Kristin’s clients.

    I, for one, have no complaints about the deal she secured for me. And in no time too.

  20. Ryan Field said:

    Karmela Johnson said…
    But Kristin — doesn’t it also depend on the industry? What about Ari from ENTOURAGE? Don’t you have to be somewhat of a shark if you work in Hollywood?

    Being a shark and being nice don’t have to be different. Oprah Winfrey might be a good example of this. It’s always better to be underestimated than overestimated.

  21. KB said:

    I’m a small niche publisher. In my front office I have a pretty plaque that says “Because Nice Matters.” We try to remember that and encourage our clients to remember it too.

  22. Sharon J said:

    Love the quote from Lainey Bancroft’s grandfather. So true.

    I never deal with aggressive or extremely arrogant people, regardless of what might be in it for me. I just won’t endorse that kind of behaviour, no matter who’s on the other end of it.

  23. Yasmine Galenorn said:

    And don’t forget–if you have a good editor or agent, let them know you appreciate them! They are most often overworked, underpaid, and underappreciated. And that goes for the editor’s assistant and the publicist too. Don’t take them for granted–there are far darker denizens in publishing and if you have a gem, make sure they know you value them.

  24. Anonymous said:

    I think many people make the mistake of thinking that ‘nice’ and ‘assertive’ are mutually exclusive concepts. So, it seems to some people that nice can’t get the job done. I employ my special brand of nice assertiveness in my job and it gives me fabulous results that my co-workers envy. I pester with the best of them – but always with a smile. 😉

  25. Connie McDowell said:

    Being nice means good manners, a strong work ethic, a sense of humor, and the patience to sit back and wait until the other guy is finished posturing and ranting. Bucking the stereotypes of your profession sets you apart everytime. I should know: At a party, everyone wants to talk about real estate, but once you actually say that you’re a real estate agent, they move away from you. But if you tell them that falling in love and buying a house have the same ups and downs; or not to settle for that sensible brown tri-level if you have your heart set on a Dutch Colonial, or that buying patio furniture and putting in a water feature is almost as fun as going to Hawaii, then they quit looking at you as a predator real estate agent. They see you as A Matchmaker with The Power of Nice.