It’s not always good to share

We DGLMers have spent the better part of the last two years hammering the idea of how important it is to build an internet platform into our clients’ heads.  We even went so far as to create a social media guide that we share with new clients when their agreements are signed.  Obviously, having a successful blog, lots of Facebook friends, Twitter followers and downloads of your videos on YouTube are the name of the game in today’s competitive publishing market. It’s not enough to write a great book, you have to be able to subtly, humorously, and persistently get all your friends, followers, and online stalkers to buy it and, better yet, talk about it.

But, as with all things, there’s a dark side to this platform building; when in our zeal to “share” our innermost thoughts, beliefs, and philosophy with our vast audience we get ourselves in trouble by writing or saying things that are better kept between the pages of our paper journals, you know, the ones with locks on them.  The recent firestorm caused by a prominent mommy blogger who confessed in a post that she preferred her son to her daughter is a case in point.   As the back and forth between the blogger and her readers became more irate and meanspirited, I wondered whether the blogging format with its insatiable need for content is in part to blame for this kind of injudicious oversharing.

Then, I think of certain writers who have no problem writing in a public space about their contempt for the publishing business in general and agents and editors in particular while assiduously courting us to represent or publish their work.  Are these people forgetting that everyone can see their posts…including the people they’re dissing?  Or are they just giddy with the thought of the thousands who will read their rants, if not their books?  I can’t speak for all my colleagues but I don’t think I’m alone in feeling that however brilliant an author’s work is if s/he is given to vilifying our industry while trying to get their foot in the publishing door and keep it there I don’t want to work with him or her.

So, yes, you need to blog and friend and be followed but be smart about what you say and how you say it.  And, really, before hitting “post” on that nasty or ill-advised commentary, put it aside and wait a while.  If you still want it out there after thinking it through, well, that’s what makes for internet s***storms.

Have you guys come across any particularly egregious examples of what I’m talking about?

8 Responses to It’s not always good to share

  1. Ciara says:

    Well I added an author’s public facebook as a friend but I’ve found her constant complaining to be really off-putting, even though it has nothing to do with her books, I don’t think I’ll buy her next one because she just seems like such a whiner and it’s annoying.

  2. Angie says:

    About this time last year the author of a blog that went by the handle Tales From a Rejection Queen did a post calling several prominent (and incredibly helpful) agents including Nathan Bransford and Janet Reid some really horrible names. The post went viral in less than twenty four hours. The backlash from it caused her to shut down her blog but not before several angry people found out her real identity and plastered it all over the internet. I’m pretty sure she effectively ended her dream of getting representation and getting published.

    • Robin Weeks says:

      There was a particularly awkward exchange between an agent and a writer last night on Twitter. Seemed to be a misunderstanding–agent made some comment that writer took personally and flamed the agent for targeting her. Agent responded appropriately, aplogized for any personal offense, reiterated none was meant, writer wouldn’t let it go, kept demanding the agent fess up to intending the insult. It was… ill-advised. Especially since the agent is rather well-liked. Writer finally dropped it, but dang.

  3. Allison says:

    I guess sometimes people don’t think before they do or say things that might potentially lead to disaster. It is one of my personal weaknesses that I need to overcome. Thank you for pointing this out. Hopefully we see less authors repeat this mistake in the future.

  4. There other reasons to create a blog than for publicity — sometimes it is merely to expand the work that as a writer you don’t always have the opportunity to do. That has been my modus operandi as a blogger. I think when writer is motivated to create a blog for reasons other than publicity, the blog becomes an extension of their work rather than a tacked-on appendage that they don’t know what to do with except reveal far too much, or worse, say things that could potentially put readers off. I find so many personal blogs by writers less interesting than those who share their professional experience. The take-away is so important on the web. Readers want to come away having learned something new or be informed more deeply on a subject in which they only have a glancing education.

    Also, in addition to maintaining a blog, tweeting, and Facebooking, there are social media websites for business that are also excellent for getting people talking about your book. I’m on Linkedin and I find it a tremendous way to amplify what you’ve already accomplished in social media. It’s a way to get the word out and have those in other areas social, broadcast, and new media help you. For example, connecting with television and radio producers and editors. You can also direct traffic to your website, Twitter page, and Facebook page as well. I think that that as an author and writer it has worked for me to keep the social media wheel turning by connecting to those who can make a difference. Facebook is great for connecting to fans, friends, and of course family, and Twitter is a great way to spread the immediate word, yet I feel strongly that while business social networking takes time and effort, the pay off is when you need those connections to gatekeepers to help the audience find you and your book.

  5. Teri Carter says:

    I wanted to comment on the posts above, so I’ll just write it here. I just started my blog a year ago, and I thought about it for a good year before doing it. And during that thinking-time, I saw too many crash-and-burns. It’s not a personal diary. It’s a blog. What’s the focus?

    If I start following someone’s blog and it’s just their daily rant on rejection, their kids, their husbands, day old bread, I stop clicking. It’s too much.

    I post 4 or 5 times a week, and I only write about reading or writing. Period.

  6. Jason says:

    It’s not enough to write a great book, you have to be able to subtly, humorously, and persistently get all your friends, followers, and online stalkers to buy it and, better yet, talk about it.

    Really? This is the responsibility of the author?

    What, then, is the literary agent’s job?

    Let’s run a little math here.

    Literary agents — who do not conceive, create, refine, edit, or promote literary works, but only sell them, and then usually only once — rake in 15% of the author’s total revenue, for as many authors as they have.

    An agent who has 50 authors, therefore, is “working” — if that word makes any sense — at most one week per year for each author, in return for 15% of their combined gross revenue.

    That’s not a bad scam.

    It’s not too surprising, though, that a writer like Asimov, who published hundreds of books, never bothered to get an agent… and could never get agented writers he knew to justify why *they* had agents.

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