Now here’s an interesting blog that expresses agents’ views on whether authors should have websites and blogs. Interesting, because their comments are directed at aspiring authors still in the querying process as much as published ones.
Most say they check to see if aspiring authors have websites or blogs, and take a look at them, before they offer representation.
What they have to say could be considered the golden rules for any interaction in the publishing business. It’s something I used to teach in interest-based negotiations all the time. Assume long term relationships. And be professional.
Obviously you need to have a website and a blog that looks well thought out, that’s a given. But being professional means more than that. I think the most important message reflected in their remarks is the fact there are people involved in this business and people don’t like to be criticized in public.
One editor, for example, didn’t appreciate an author commenting on a blog about how long it was taking the editor to review the author’s manuscript. That’s a criticism that seems pretty mild, until you think about it. It suggested that the editor either couldn’t manage her time properly or didn’t live up to her commitments.
Don’t rant or post personal attacks about the very people you need on-side to succeed in this business, people that you may have to deal with in the future. Publishing is a very small world. Don’t burn your bridges. And for God’s sake, don’t post comments when you’re angry. Anger passes. The footprint you leave on the Internet doesn’t go away.
I turned down a guest blog a few weeks ago by a writer who was extremely frustrated at being passed over after a long period on submission. In the post, the author took swipes at everyone in the business.
I was uncomfortable with the content for a couple of reasons. For one thing, that hasn’t been my experience at all. I’ve found that the vast majority of the people I’ve dealt with in this business are topnotch. If they didn’t like my work, I was willing to accept that it might be my writing that was the problem. Or the fit. Or their concerns about how to sell my book in an increasingly difficult market. But I never blamed them personally. It’s a business and they make business decisions, as they should. It isn’t personal.
Secondly, I really thought that putting that blog up (not just here, but anywhere) was going to hurt that author’s long term prospects in the industry. Posting it here could have hurt mine. I wished the author well, and declined.
Another blogger, also an agent, warns against talking about how many times you’ve been rejected and how long you’ve been on submission .
I agree with that, too. All that stuff should stay behind the scenes until you have a publisher. Once the deal is struck, I don’t see a problem. Stories about how authors found their publishers are often inspiring. Everyone likes to hear about the underdog who succeeded.
But a display of public anger on the Internet is like a display of public drunkenness on Youtube. Nothing good can come from it. (Think Alex Baldwin. Or Britney Spears.)