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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Alienating Yourself Using Social Media 101

Step One: Pick a user name. Using obscene words adds to your score.
Step Two: Sign into the social media of your choice and begin making connections. The more people whose views you disagree with, the better.
Step Three: Wait until someone says something completely opposite of how you feel. Argue publicly with this individual. Resorting to childish behavior such as name calling is encouraged.
Step Four: Run back to your like-minded friends and virtual high-five each other for 'stirring up the wasps' nest.'

Congratulations! You have reached Level One. People are talking about you.

It amazes me, and I know it shouldn't, how nasty people can be over the internet. With the internet  to provide a safety wall, so many think their online actions won't have any consequences. They say things online they'd never dream of saying to the same person face-to-face. They attack others for no reason other than getting a laugh or two. It makes them feel empowered to upset and frazzle everyone they meet.

While Internet Trolls have become a normal occurrence, there are others who follow in the Trolls' footsteps, thinking they, too, are immune to retribution. Sadly, they are mistaken.

Yesterday on Twitter, a conversation caught my eye. The part I saw was between an agent and an editor. I noticed it because the agent had been called a 'bad apple'. Being the nosy, uh, researcher that I am, I backtracked to find out what had happened. 

Seems like someone attempted to pitch to the agent on Twitter (a big no-no if anyone's wondering) and became upset over the agent's response that the author should follow submission guidelines on the agency website. Instead of saying, "Ok, sorry. Thank you for the information," the writer became angry over the agent's tweets about her query in-box. Others jumped in with personal remarks, namely the 'bad apple' comment and suggesting the agent in question was drunk.

Now, many agents on social network sites will host things like #10queriesin10tweets or #pubtip where they will randomly go through their slush pile and give tips based on what they're looking at in that moment. They never reveal who the MS belongs to and most writers will take what is said and see if it applies to their own queries. This agent was doing something similar, venting about what drives her crazy in her in-box. Up until she told the writer to check the website guidelines, this person had no problem with these tweets. Afterward, she thought they were 'unethical'.

Here's the problem with how the writer handled this situation. She did it on a public forum where anyone can see it. She called out an agent who had not personally attacked her, then rallied with others to 'stir up the hornets' nest' as one person said. They decried the publishing industry and how indie and self-publishing was the way to go. That people like this agent were the reason traditional publishing's days were numbered.

All of these attacks are now public knowledge and easily accessible. Agents and publishers tend to follow each other on Twitter. Anyone who follows this agent knows about the incident and will most likely let others know. The publishing world is small and one comment can burn many bridges. You may think Indie or Self-publishing is the way to go now, but can you be sure in ten years you won't be tired of doing it all yourself and want to focus on the writing? Maybe you'll be happy doing it all, but do you want to take that chance? Even if you are content with untraditional publishing, why alienate industry professionals who you can learn from? Take a deep breath and think before responding to anyone.

Be careful what you write and post. Words have power to help you along or destroy all your work before even get started.


  1. Wouldn't you be more focused on the writing if you did do it all? If it is only you then you should be more careful on what you are outputting, rather than just handing it over to a publisher and expecting they are going to do a good job.

    1. Depends on your personal take on it. Either way, why would you want to alienate yourself from anyone who could help you in the future? I mean this to to include everyone. Down the road, I might decide to self-pub and would want guidance from someone who's been there.

    2. Can you actually go through life without alienating anyone?

      Wouldn't that mean you would have to agree with everyone, love everyone, and not have a opinion of your own if it differed from everyone?

    3. True, you can't always please everyone. Going out of your way to attack someone (attacking, not having an intelligent debate) is not the same. Doing it to someone on a professional level makes you look very unprofessional and fewer people are going to want to work with you.

      You can debate, like we're doing, without resorting to name calling and attempting to slander another person. ;-)

    4. The publishing world can easily drive you to the edge though.

      Self-publish and then you can call yourself names. :)

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