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Beware the Dangers of Social Media

The beauty of social media is that it allows you to connect with other like-minded people. You can bond over the latest drama on Real Housewives, angst over the certain demise of publishing, share cat videos and dog pictures, and participate in NaNoWriMo together. Whatever it is, social media has become the new front porch. It’s where we gather to gossip, kvetch, cry, and laugh.

It’s not the crying and the laughing that make me nervous, but the gossiping and kvetching. The problem with the front porch is that after a while it gets a little too comfortable and we forget that for the 20-30 people we regularly engage with directly, there are 200-300 just watching and listening. And that’s when trouble arises.

When an editor is interested in the project I’m pitching one of the first things she’ll do is scroll the author’s social media and what she reads can make a difference. How bad does she want an author who has been complaining mercilessly about her current editor or publisher or who seems to relish in all of the latest publishing gossip, even if it’s not true?

Editors and agents tend to be stalkers, silently reading Facebook posts and Tweets to learn what’s going on with an author and whether or not she’d be a good fit. While I encourage everyone to be your real self on all of these platforms, I do think we need to remember that someone is always watching and if we don’t want them to hear what we have to say, it might be better to remain silent.

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6 comments

  1. It’s not only people who are looking for a publishing career who need to remember this.
    Of all the ‘media’ related people I met during uni both the media/film staff and other media students. I am amongst the most active on social media and
    I post on here more than I do Facebook.

  2. When I was a child, our social media was the playground, and our twitter feed was whatever you could hear other kids screaming at school. But reality has changed and I think it is a good idea for us to take Jessica’s words to heart. Things are getting tougher.

    I think it is important to keep that ego in check when looking at Facebook and Twitter. Think before you post. Hateful, spiteful comments on social media can come back to haunt you. I don’t want to work with an agent, editor, or publisher whose reputation is likely going to hurt my own. In today’s world you are guilty by association without a trial and if people know you hitch your wagon to an person or an agency, their reputation can hurt you as well.

    This is my somewhat long winded way to say us authors have a duel responsibility to ensure we are doing business with people who are representative of how we want our persona to be in the publishing world. We also have to mindful that what is good for the goose is good for the gander and an agent will pass on us if we are posting rude and hateful things on line.

    I know it should be common sense, but ultimately the social footprint you build is the footprint you are going to be judged on. When I was in the Army I had a great Sergeant who mentored me. She told me, “Remember, always praise in public, but reprimand in private.” I think that is great advice for Facebook and Twitter as well.

    BTW: If an agent/publisher wants to stalk me, I am happy to oblige. 🙂

    -Your Humble Servant, Bryan the Writer

  3. I’m more afraid of the opposite. I’m on twitter and love to read everyone’s comments but don’t make many of my own. I’m afraid they won’t be interested in me because I have nothing to say.

    1. S.P. Bowers I have 3 thoughts on your comment.
      1. What is normal, everyday and dull to you, can be exciting and new to someone else. Especially if they live in another country.
      2. Everyone is different, so yeah some people won’t like what you say. I don’t like thrillers, but Jessica loves them. In the same way some people will like what you say.
      3. By not posting, your taking the choice away from everyone. If they do want to hear what you say (see what you’ve written?)

      I know, Jessica isn’t a huge paranormal/fantasy type of agent. So if I want to send my MS to Bookends, it’s probably a better idea to send it to Moe.
      But unless I give Jessica a chance to read it, I can’t say she won’t fall in love with something in my book and make it one of her exceptions. That would be her choice alone.
      By not posting, your not allowing your fans or potential fans, the chance to get to know you.

      Take little steps and work your way up, have faith in yourself.

      Did I manage to say that without sounding like I was talking to stuborn teenagers? At least a little?

      Stephen, I agree, but we’re never going to find out.

  4. I’m always amazed at what people post. Do they forget they are speaking to the world, or do they think because it isn’t face-to-face they are hiding behind a screen and ‘anonymous’?

    A reminder to think before you post is always good!

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