A Rant About Ignorant Behavior


Over the past few days, I have witnessed more than one aspiring writer approach an agent or other industry professional and pitch a project to them ... via social media.

After spending months (or possibly years) working on a book, WHY would you do this?

Maybe you decided to join Twitter because you read something somewhere about how important a platform is, or how beneficial internet networking can be. Maybe you discovered Spencer and Heidi use Twitter, and so now you think you should too.

You should never do ANYTHING because Spencer and Heidi do it. THEY shouldn't do most of the things they do. Like have plastic surgery. Or sing. (Let's hope this list never involves procreation.)

I read recently in an interview where an author said that she treats social media like a cocktail party. No sex, politics or religion. Bingo. I've developed some amazing relationships through my blog and Twitter, relationships that have enriched my life, made me laugh, connected me with people who understand my season of life in a way that even my family can't. But if I have something negative to say (or ... pictures ... to ... send), I ignore the public forums and jump on over to email or the telephone.

Twitter isn't the place to blast a reviewer out of the water and give out her private contact information because she didn't like your book. (Also, don't use it to tell a grandmother/principal from Texas to suck it, even if you really did think she was a spammer.) And it definitely isn't the place to query - especially when you tweet the same thing to every single agent in the business.

It's not just a Twitter problem. Blog posts aren't the place to rage and bitch about how unfair the industry is, or about how many rejections you've received, or about how incredibly stupid an agent or publisher is because they didn't sign you. Nor is it the place to slam successful authors and the houses that publish them. Maybe you do have more talent in your little finger than that author does in her whole body. Talk to your BFF about it. Don't rant Your Nasty to the largest public venue in the world (wide web).

(And on a side note, while I only use it for people I actually know or have a professional relationship with, Facebook has become very low on my list of priorities, largely due to the passive-aggressive use of The Status.)

When it comes to the writing business (or any business at all) the very best thing you can do is your research. Learn what to say and more importantly what NOT to say. Read the blogs of Nathan Bransford, Editorial Anonymous, Editorial Ass, Michael Hyatt and Rachelle Gardner (especially this post). Git yerrself educated.

I'd like to quote my Awesome Agent, Generalissima Holly Root of Waxman Literary.

"While publishing is a dream/goal, it's also a job, and like any job is not always sunshine and kittens."

That was a tweet, by the way.

There can be extreme wisdom in 140 characters.

There can also be extreme stupidity.

It's really all up to you.


  1. *Agrees* Great post. I think a lot of people forget that what they say online can easily be Googled. Whenever I come close to posting something that's not-so-smart on social forums, I sing Sara Bareilles: "I know that it's your soul, but could you bottle it up?"

    Works everytime ;)

  2. I like the cocktail party advice. Very very true. Thank you for the reminder.

  3. Why is it that common sense...isn't as common as it should be?

  4. AMEN.

    (Don't need to say much more than that.)

  5. I'm guilty of sometimes saying too much on certain subjects in public forums, but I am trying to get better about it (meaning: Keeping my darn fingers glued together).

    Great post, and something more people need to read. :)

  6. I'm speechless at that author. Good thing I've never read her books, nor would want to after reading the crap she pulled on Twitter. People never cease to amaze.

    Great post!!! I think too many people forget that the internet is not public, by any means.

  7. I was raised to speak my mind, and to me Twitter is a forum where you can speak your mind. I totally agree that you shouldn't shoot yourself in the foot in regards to your career, but I also believe some things are bigger than your career. Therefore, sometimes I feel compelled to tweet about things that may be somewhat controversial.

    As far as tweeting your query or posting it publicly before you have an agent, I agree that's not such a great idea. Then again, we all have our own paths to walk. As long as we're willing to take the potential "fall-out" from our actions, I say, speak your heart as you see fit to whomever you wish. And, whenever possible, be kind. ;-)

    (Don't you feel bad for my mom? She had to put up with this hard-headed, first-born, A-type for far too many years!)

  8. I'm teaching a class on blogging and social media this week at my local SCBWI meeting, and this is exactly what I was thinking about while planning it.

    Mind if I reference this post?

  9. Which is why I don't tweet. (Well, that and the fact that I believe the people who created Twitter are actively seeking to destroy humanity.)

    Strong opinions + a proclivity to be brutally honest + the ability to vent such brutal honesty at the click of the button = a temptation best ignored.

  10. No politics?! I'm screwed.

    I did make the mistake of writing a post about disliking a policy at my local library. Well, they are now using my blog to help select upcoming materials...so, smart me realized I had that older post and deleted it in time. But, I should have thought that one through before I hit publish.

  11. An author friend once told me, "Once you tell the world you're a writer, you will find yourself front and center on stage." He went on to tell me simply put, from that moment on my actions would be held accountable.

    Which makes sense. Our worst moments are often caught on tape (in Twitter, Facebook). So why would we give ammunition to someone to shoot us down before we get a chance to prove ourselves.

    In any case I've never been a fan of airing dirty laundry, which is exactly what you do when you mock someone publicly.

    As for approaching agents, publishers in social media sites - Sigh, why do people think they can seriously get away with out having to jump through the hoops everyone else has to. If you believe in your book that strongly, do the work to prove it. (Hugs)Indigo

  12. Wise words oh great one. Very wise words. The query is short enough for the love of sanity, why would someone want to shorten it, and their chances by approaching someone on Twitter or Facebook?! It's just bad form. It would be nice if etiquitte classes came back into fashion! The world needs them!

  13. I agree w/ you 100% ... like what DL Hammons said early, it's strange that common sense isn't so common any more. It's one thing to mutter an angry rant under your breath and to yourself, it's another to mutter that rant on Twitter for the world to see/read.

  14. I agree. There's so many generous people sharing good advice and I've found all the writing dudes to be the best blogging community. A little respect and common sense goes a long way.


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