I’m sitting here enjoying a nice cup of tea and thinking about the dangers of blogging. By now most of you are probably aware of Jason Pinter’s reported firing from Crown for a posting he made on his blog. If not, take a look at what Galleycat has to say about the situation. While I can’t say anything specific about Jason or that situation, I can say that he is not the first to be fired because of a blog and he definitely won’t be the last. As writers, and members of the publishing industry, we should know better than most how powerful words can be. We should also try not to forget that blogs are a public forum, and when choosing to post in this public forum you need to be cautious about what you are saying about whom.
As an agent I think about it every day. After all, I might be a part owner in BookEnds, but it surely doesn’t mean I can’t be fired. What do you think would happen if I started openly sharing confidential client information? It wouldn’t be too long before those certified letters started flooding my office.
Whether or not you agree with Jason’s firing, the truth is that blogs are a public forum and companies have the right to fire employees if they feel confidentiality has been breeched or if they feel an employee has acted in a way that’s contradictory to the company’s image. That means you can’t get up in front of a roomful of people and share confidential information, you can’t streak naked while representing the company at an event, and you can’t blog about anything (company-related or not) that the company feels goes against the image they want to present.
When sitting in our pajamas, in our homes, writing blogs, we forget that hundreds of people read them—including agents, editors, other authors, and even our mothers. Do you think that as a writer you can’t be fired for a blog? See what happens when an agent or editor interested in your work does a Google search and finds the things you had to say about her, other industry professionals (her friends), or the industry in general. Trust me. She’ll get nervous and that book better be darn good for her to decide to make an offer despite the fact that she might end up on your blog someday.
If you’re unsure about what to say or not say in your blog, think about it this way: If you were being interviewed by a reporter for the New York Times, would you say the same things? Would you be willing to have those words in print and dropped on an editor’s or agent’s doorstep?
Blogs are new, fun, and a fantastic way to help publicize your work or even let off a little steam. But it’s important to remember that they aren’t the diaries of old, the ones we hid so Mom couldn’t find them.