Thursday, April 15

Beware Of What You Say Online

*Rant of the Month*

I'm going to start this post by saying that no, I am not an expert. When I started this blog, it was purely for fun. It was an online journal to keep track of my writing, that is all. It was only after I went to Washington for the RWA National Conference that I realized my blog could be something more. Here, I could connect with other writers and share my experiences with them.

At times, I know I've probably said too much on here. It is likely I've complained one too many times about my awful college roommates, or whined about a pet peeve of mine. I know that. However, I also know that what I have said was not that bad. I sincerely doubt a comment here or there about how annoying college can be is going to turn an agent off. But you never know, I suppose.

Regardless of that, I am pretty confident that my blog and/or my online presence in general will not stop an agent from offering me representation. I am not so confident for other people. Putting extremely personal tidbits up on your blog, including things of a sexual or marital nature, is not going to win you support from anyone.

In fact, I'd hazard to say that it will stop an agent dead in their tracks. If you cannot keep your personal life separate from your writing one now, how on earth could you possibly do it when you're published and in the public eye? The most likely answer is, you can't.

Now, I know we've all read fabulous posts about being careful what you say online because it can and will bite you in the butt one day. But then why are there still posts floating around out there that share WAY too much information? I mean, I'm a romance writer/reader. Talking about sex does not bug me if it is done for professional reasons (ie, how to write a good love scene). However, it does bug me when someone is talking about their personal sex lives-- or lack thereof-- on a blog for the entire world to see! I do not want to know all of these details about your personal life, especially not when it could make me lose respect for you.

So please, think about what you are saying before you actually put it online!

*Rant done*

22 comments:

  1. I think you make valid points... whatever your purpose online be careful and make sure that you are following those guidelines you yourself has left!

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  2. I learned my lesson the hard way when I mentioned something about an agent's contest and although not quite dissing it, I basically blew it off...the very next HOUR I had a personal e-mail from him ranting about how I should not dismiss his contest just because I wasn't interested in the prize.

    Well, shut my mouth. Now I'm VERY careful about what I say about whom. You never know who uses Google Reader.

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  3. You are so right. My agent once told me that she's never been turned off reading a manuscript or offering representation by a writer who had NO ONLINE PRESENCE, but she has decided not to request fulls and even not to offer rep based on an inappropriate or strange web site.

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  4. I have edited 40% of my comments to sound less mean. I never try to be mean, it just sounds that way...it's a curse.

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  5. Hm, this makes me wonder what blogs you've been reading lately! Safe to say it's none of the ones I follow...thank goodness. So far I haven't really had the urge to rant and rave in a public forum. If I ever do, I'll certainly "check yourself before you wreck yourself."

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  6. I'm always aware that what I put out there is "out there" for everyone to see. I know that sometimes I 'overshare' on my blog or I rant a little too much about the way people drive or just plain drive me out of my mind.

    My general rule is that I won't post anything on the internet that I wouldn't want displayed on a billboard ten feet high in the middle of my home town.

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  7. I so agree, Natalie. Maybe if it's a "personal" blog meant as a diary or journal, and the person doesn't want representation. But an aspiring author can't be too careful! You never know WHO can be reading your blog.

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  8. Natalie--this is good advice. One would hate to do all the work of writing and querying a MS, finally get a prospective agent on the hook only to have it all fall apart due to a few ill-advised public comments.

    At the end of the day, it helps to remember that our blogs are about the most public space there is. A little discretion goes a long way.

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  9. I imagine it wouldn't be quite as bad (to destroy one's reputation) if one wasn't an aspiring author. However even then it can seriously harm a person's future prospects. I just hope some people out there gain the maturity & self respect needed to act with some kind of dignity - online or in person before they gain a poor reputation. It used to be (in the old days) that if you screwed up in your hometown and acted like an a** you could just move & start over. Nowadays the screw-up is worldwide on the web.

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  10. Jen- Exactly. My rule is, if I dont want my mum/dad or my boyfriend knowing, it's not going online. Period. Even then, I tend to be more strict than that and go with the "If I dont want my grandmother to know, it's not going online."

    Anne- Oops! Exactly! You never know who is following your blog, or who knows who. Ya know? At least you learned really quick and wont make that mistake again. =)

    Natalie- Thank you for popping in! Im glad Im not crazy thinking that agents will decide not to request a full or offer representation because of a bad online reputation. I think a lot of the time people believe the internet is a safe haven for whatever they want to put up. But it's not.

    Jonathon- lol. Ive never found your comments mean, just sarcastic. And from what I remember, you havent said anything of this nature on your blog =)

    Summer- LOL! There's a few that have done this, but I wont say who it is so as to not smear their names =) Im glad for you that you havent had any bad experiences with reading blogs. I like that saying, lol. I know I said this is a rant, but it is more of a plea for other writers to remember that what goes online, stays online.

    Rhonda- Yeah, mine is that I wont post what I dont want my family to know (especially since most of them read this blog, LOL). I try not to rant too much just in case I offend someone.

    Julie- Aww yay, Im glad. I was worried I would tick some people off with this, but I think it's something every writer needs to keep in the back of their mind. Exactly! A personal blog is one thing, but a public one meant for agents and publishers to look at? No siree bob. I agree. People dont need to openly follow a blog to read it and know what it says.

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  11. Jon P- Thanks =) No kidding! That would be absolutely awful to do all that work and find out you destroyed your own chances! I agree 100%.

    Mum- Yes, it can. Most employers will scan the internet (facebook, twitter, blogs) if they are looking at hiring someone. I know several people who were not hired due to things on their facebook page. And that's just for a normal job, never mind one where you're in the spotlight-- like writing. Exactly. Whatever you put on the internet, stays on the internet.

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  12. Excellent blog post. For a long time, I hadn't thought about that kind of thing, but now I try to be constantly aware of what I write and how I sound. You never know who could be a potential reader, agent or employer.

    That said, I'm still a bit more outspoken than I am in life. Part of that is a promise I made to myself to let this be my outlet for things. (Not your comments area, just the internet in general. Choosing your comments would be a bit awkward.)

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  13. Ack. I've never read a blog like that. Ew ew ew. I don't want to know about other people's sex lives. It's like the little voice that tells some people 'don't say that' is missing in others. (Sometimes I ignore my little voice, but never that bad.)

    Of course, I was raised that there are three things you shouldn't discuss in polite society - religion, sex and politics. In private? Go for it. But this isn't private. It's worldwide.

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  14. Oh, and if I ever get stupid and forget to keep my trap shut, feel free to slap me upside the head. ;o)

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  15. Are you talking directly to me, or am I just being vain?

    Love you either way. Maybe I should look in the mirror and ask myself why I feel a teensy bit guilty after reading your post.

    But, to know me is to lovemespice, and I hope I don't have to eat my words!

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  16. Kristopher and Crew- I can understand that =) I know Ive ranted a few times on here when I felt I couldnt do it in person to anyone.

    B.E.- Yep, me too. I also find talking about sports can be a bad idear too.

    Amber- lol I DM'd you on Twitter.

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  17. Oh yeah. People can get vicious about their favorite sports teams. I try to keep my venom inside the home, but every once in a while, it drips into my blog.

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  18. Very valid points. It's important to be careful what we write online!

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  19. Ugh. About what we write online.

    I need to go to bed!

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  20. B.E.- lol! If it makes you feel better, I dont recall a post where that venom dripped in, lol.

    Stephanie- Hehe, it's okay. We all forget words. I do it all the time. Im glad you agree, though =)

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  21. In general I agree, Natalie - I think aspiring writers need to decide what function their blog is going to serve and keep it that way. My blog is for writing, books and occasional random fun things - my personal life may creep in sometimes, but that's not what this is for. It's for connecting with other people who like books and documenting my writing journey.

    If anyone wants to read about my career angst, fights with friends, or futile attempts to lose four pounds, you can go to. . . oh, no one wants to. Okay :)

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  22. Ellen- I agree. I mean, of course our personal lives will seep into the blog-- that's part of why we want to read them =)! But it's when people take it too far, like you said, that it becomes too much.

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