A Word of Advice…

5 Apr

By Sarah J. Maas

~~~

So, you’ve decided you want to get published. AND you’ve decided that you want to share every step of the journey with your friends, family, and random internet acquaintances. You’ve set up a blog, a twitter, a facebook account, etc.. Great.

Well, only if you know the rules.

No, there’s no official list of aspiring-author-protocol, but there ARE some things that I think a lot of aspiring writers forget when they decide to share EVERY detail, every rejection, every revision request with the world. So, I figured I’d give you three pointers that will hopefully save you a lot of grief.

1) Do NOT, and I repeat: DO NOT post your agent rejections on your blog. And do NOT say who rejected you. It might seem like a great way to accurately portray the difficulties of getting published, but you’re actually hurting yourself. Why? Because:

Agents. Will. Google. You.

They will read your blog. And they will see not only who has rejected you, but WHY. And if they see that their competition is rejecting you, the “must-snatch-up-new-writer-before-any-one-else” pressure goes bye-bye. AND, seeing those rejections could make THEM see the faults in the manuscript, and reject you, too.

Not to mention, it comes across as pretty unprofessional if you’re posting agents’ rejections, and then providing commentary about how much that agent sucks, or how unfair and stupid they are. It doesn’t make you seem like an ideal potential client, does it?

BUT that’s not to say that you can’t privately share these rejections, and your feelings of hurt, anger, and despair. Just keep those entries friends-locked. Trust me—it’s for the best.

2) Going on that note, Facebook. Before you set out on your Publication Journey, decide what kind of Facebook presence you want. Do you want your fans to only see the writing/books/business side of you? Or do you want them to have access to your personal information, to see your private pictures, etc.? Pick a side, and then keep it.

But for those of you who decide to link everyone to your pre-existing Facebook account with all your high school and college photos and embarrassing wall posts, take a couple of hours to look through your account. Look at how you’re portraying yourself: is this how you want your new writer friends, your agent, your future editor, to see you?

3) Remember that how you portray yourself online is most likely the way your future readers and fans will get to know you. Word of mouth is the strongest PR tool out there—don’t ruin it with poor internet behavior. Don’t start drama with ANYONE online.

Drama will get around, and the last thing you want is for you to find yourself with a bad reputation. I’ve heard of a few would-be writers who publicly criticized a published author—and what do you think happened? The published writer was always fine, but it was the aspiring author who suffered: not only did other authors hear about the aspiring-author’s behavior, but agents and editors most likely heard, too. So, I will repeat it again:

Drama. Gets. Around.

There are a bunch more things that I could list, but I think that covers the big points. I hope this doesn’t make publishing seem like an industry where you have to keep your head down and put on a sugary-sweet persona. It’s not.

But there are ways to make your personality and uniqueness shine through without damaging your career and isolating yourself. Have fun, but be smart!

~~~

Sarah J. Maas is the author of several novels, including QUEEN OF GLASS, a YA fantasy retelling of Cinderella that will be published by Bloomsbury in late 2011. Sarah resides with her fiancé in Los Angeles. You can visit her blog here.

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17 Responses to “A Word of Advice…”

  1. svonnah April 5, 2010 at 12:40 PM #

    Oh Sarah, what would I have done without you pulling me aside and telling me to friends-lock entries and clean up my FB? Eternal gratefullness ❤

    • Sarah J. Maas April 5, 2010 at 12:43 PM #

      Hahaha ❤ ❤ My pleasure!

  2. Rachel Simon April 5, 2010 at 12:45 PM #

    The only part of this I’m concerned with is Facebook. For me, Facebook was a place for my friends and family to connect with me and now I am slowly adding authors and an agent or two. I don’t know whether to keep my FB as is — with embarrassing photos of my best friend and me from high school — or make it more professional. Currently, my FB is 99% for my friends and family and thus I use it like that. But what about the 1%?

    • cgwriter April 5, 2010 at 12:54 PM #

      I was actually going to comment on this. Great article, Sarah, but I have a question!

      I feel the same way Rachel does … I’ve been thinking about this lately and it worries me seeing my Facebook. Because, quite frankly, I’m 19 and I act like it (at least with my friends). My facebook is littered with song lyrics, various types of innuendo, silly pictures, and friends with pretty twisted senses of humor who like to post things they probably shouldn’t.

      So, my question is, even if you aren’t anywhere near getting published… would it be a better option to have a fan page for your readers to contact you through, rather than using your private page? If you make everything on your personal page private, I’m pretty sure even the most in-depth googling won’t get agents very far.

      Thanks for the great post! :]
      Cristina

      • Kat April 5, 2010 at 2:22 PM #

        Now, on facebook, you can actually block things down to the picture album or the friend. So you could make something viewable to, say, everyone but that one person you’d rather not see it 🙂

      • Sarah J. Maas April 5, 2010 at 2:31 PM #

        Kat made a really great point below about being able to block people from seeing certain pictures on facebook.

        But i think if you’re really attached to the way your facebook is right now, you might want to consider getting a second account that is only for professional purposes–not a fan page (which I’m a bit opposed to), but just a page with a nice picture of you, some basic information, and stuff pertaining to your publication goals.

      • Vanessa April 5, 2010 at 7:03 PM #

        I could never balance 2 separate facebook accounts, personally. At least, not now.

        I already have people in the industry adding me, and even at 23, I have some stuff on there that I’d rather they not see. So I pretty much block most of my albums from certain people, and I’m careful about not posting status updates about how drunk I am or whatever.

    • Sarah J. Maas April 5, 2010 at 2:26 PM #

      I know that some authors have two facebook accounts–one for their personal stuff, and then one for their writing/publishing friends and acquaintances. If you’re hesitant to split the two, then definitely weed through your photos and take down stuff you don’t want agents/authors seeing. It’s not like you’re deleting the pictures forever.

      OR, as Kat pointed out below, you can make some albums private, and viewable only to certain people. That might be a good way to deal with the 1% you’re concerned about.

      • svonnah April 5, 2010 at 2:48 PM #

        I chose to get a fan page cause I’m pretty professional in my personal page and I didn’t feel like I needed to really clean anything up.

      • Sarah J. Maas April 5, 2010 at 2:56 PM #

        @Savannah–

        My thing with fan pages is that they just seem so…impersonal, and really set up a wall between the author and the reader. Or a pedestal.

        But it’s all about what you/people are comfortable doing. Some people just don’t want strangers knowing about their private lives, and that’s totally fine, too.

      • svonnah April 5, 2010 at 3:27 PM #

        @Sarah

        Well, I felt like I needed /something/, but I didn’t want a second page. I’ve been really open about letting people friend me who are fans. But you’re right; facebook fan pages are totally impersonal.

  3. Rowenna April 5, 2010 at 1:28 PM #

    Fabulous post! I work in a university undergrad program, and this is something we have to work with our students on a lot, too–understanding that a lot of what they thought was private wasn’t, things like that. Even just privacy settings on FB is easy to overlook!

    Good questions from Rachel and Cristina on FB–I can’t imagine making my personal FB page somewhere that I connect with strangers (online writer friends don’t count as strangers 🙂 )–what about fan pages?

    • Sarah J. Maas April 5, 2010 at 2:51 PM #

      Well, FB changes its privacy settings like…every day, so it’s important to periodically check in to make sure that things haven’t altered.

      My facebook page is actually my personal page. I chose not to get another account mostly because 1) there’s not that much incriminating stuff on my FB account, and 2) I wanted my readers to see me as a real person, not a classic picture and a few lines of info on a fan page.

      But if I had more sensitive material on my FB page, then I would definitely have gotten another account for publishing stuff.

      • Rowenna April 5, 2010 at 9:20 PM #

        No kidding–keeping up with FB practically constitutes a second job! I did like, when I was maintaining a business fan page for a company I worked for, that I could keep the “professional” and “personal” separate, but an author is in a unique position as a real person, not just a company name.

  4. Becca April 6, 2010 at 2:28 PM #

    Awesome reminder, Sarah, thanks!
    Here’s a question. Is it detrimental to your career to simply NOT have an FB account or Twitter account? Publicity wise, would you be hurting yourself?

    • Sarah J. Maas April 6, 2010 at 2:32 PM #

      I don’t think you’re hurting yourself, but I think having an online presence really helps. Sometimes, agents and editors will e-stalk you to see what kind of a platform you’re building, and how marketable YOU are (not just your book). Having a twitter and FB account where you interact with other industry people is definitely a plus. It takes a LOT of time to actively maintain your online presence, but I think it really helps–if only to gain you readers/fans.

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