If You Want to Run With the Big Dogs …

This has happened to me so many times that when I found myself ranting about it to the Irishman (who is a saint for listening) the other day, I had the thought that I should blog about it. Now that I’ve calmed down (a little bit), I have. :)

So here’s the thing. There are certain tools publishing professionals use, and if you want to be considered a professional, you should use them too. Chief among these is the word processing software we use. All the publishers I deal with use Microsoft Word.

When I send editorial notes back to an author, furthermore, I also tell him how we will work together. In my cover e-mail, I ask him if he knows how to use track changes; just in case, I attach my little homemade tutorial.

So when I get questions like …

I have the version of Word that came loaded free on my Dell, but I can’t seem to turn on track changes. What should I do?

… or …

Can you save this as a .doc instead of .docx? I can’t open it.

… or …

I can’t run track changes on my personal computer (I have a Mac and don’t have Word at home). I can’t do this on my work computer for obvious reasons. Hopefully you can see my changes on your end?

… this is what I think:

Why would you pay me as much as you’re paying me and not be prepared to work with me the way we’ve discussed? It’s on my website and I covered it in my introductory communication with you.

No, that free version does not have all the bells and whistles you need; that’s why it was free.

Sure I can resave it for you, but did you know you can download a little free “fix” that will allow you to open it yourself? It’ll take about three minutes.

No, I cannot track your changes after the fact. If you didn’t do it, it didn’t get done.

And when you say, “The book is so different now I didn’t bother with track changes,” I want to cry.

You don’t want to make Your Editor cry, do you?

You should buy Microsoft Office (for your PC or Mac); at the online Microsoft Store it’s $119.99 but I just found it online for $79.99. It’s an investment in your future as an author.

Tweet: If you really want to be a writer, behave like one!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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  1. Michelle Ule says:

    I hear you. What’s the patch for docx? (I have it, of course, but someone close to me does not).

    Never mind. I’ll google it myself. :-)

    • Jamie says:

      If you look on my FB post about this blog, I’ve put it in the comments. :)

    • Jamie says:

      You need to get the “Open XML File Format Converter for Mac 1.0.2” from Microsoft’s website. It will allow you to open and save .DOCX documents. Just make sure that when you save a document you ‘Save As’ and put it in Word 2008 (.docx) format. http://www.microsoft.com/mac/downloads?pid&fid=EDB6CD8F-832C-4123-8982-AC0C601EA0A7
      Now, I just went there and noticed they have Office 2011 (ack! ack! They couldn’t even do 2008 right so WHY, for the love of word processing, would they make a new one???) so now I don’t know what to say. Personally i PREFER Word 2004 for Mac but a very large client made 2008 a condition of getting work from it, so I had no choice. 2008 is buggy; it bogs down and eventually crashes on a regular basis.

  2. These kinds of things are what the Christian Writers Guild is all about. I know it’s a plug, because I’m a mentor, but there are some great courses there to teach writers how to be professionals. Starting with Writing Essentials. Hope you don’t mind, Jamie.http://www.christianwritersguild.com/courses-overview/

    • Jamie says:

      By all means! The thing is—and what this rant was about—is I do tell people exactly what I expect from them. And even so, even after we’ve discussed it, I get things like you see above. :)

  3. Marti Pieper says:

    Agree, agree, agree. Sometimes I run across writers who tell me they LOVE Word Perfect (really? Word Perfect?) and don’t want to make the switch to MS Word. I feel like saying, “Come on. Are you still using a TRS-80?”

    On second thought, I might not want them to answer that question.

    Writers, stick to the industry standard. Lay your personal preferences aside and follow your editor’s lead. That’s what professionals do.


  4. Ellen says:

    Hello! Will LibreOffice work for this or is that asking for trouble? The site says it opens .docx too. I have Word but I was just wondering. :)

    Great blog!!

    • jamiechavez says:

      Thank you. I’d use Word, since that’s what all the publishers use. It has its faults but right now it’s the industry standard.