Yesterday while writing, IMing and surfing the intarwebs I saw an interesting post over at the FFF community about author blogs and advice on what we should and shouldn’t blog about. The original post was that an agent advised a client not to blog about getting rejected because of course, industry folks do blog surf and you don’t want to come off like, well someone who gets rejected. And in that comment stream, Jackie Kessler asked what the question, “what is the purpose of a blog?” which I think is an important question.
This is long and totally my opinion…
I tend to agree that authors should think about what they say on their blogs. In fact, I wish it happened more often than it does. An irrefutable truth – there are different standards applied to “public figures” of any kind. Yes, I would be held to a different response if I said the same things a reader blogger said. And to that I respond, “so what?” Because that is the reality and you can accept it and deal with it appropriately or you can be a twat and think you’re doing something important by shaking your fist at reality and saying whatever pops into your head without a thought for the consequences.
There are things you just don’t do. And I know that agitates people. I know people wish we could just be totally open about whatever agitates us, whatever strife we’re dealing with behind the scenes, etc. There are times when I wish that were so as well. But the fact is, this is a business for authors. Your name, how you act in public – these things are part of the whole package.
So, IMO, I do blog about rejection. Because guess what? EVERYONE gets rejected. This business is about perserverence and the ability to bounce back. It is. So when newbie authors read this blog I want them to know I get knocked around too. You don’t sell once and then bingo you sell everything you pitch forevermore. I mean, I’m sure some authors are just that fabulous and lucky, but most of us get rejected from time to time for a whole host of reasons.
The issue is – HOW you blog about the negatives in this business, not necessarily if you blog about them at all. So I’d never get up on this blog and bitch about a certain house or a certain editor or whine and piss and moan about how New York isn’t ready for me or I’m too edgy for New York or whatever. In my opinion, that’s simply unprofessional. Period. Even if an editor at a certain house said I ate kittens in puff pastry and wrote the worst drek ever – although dude, I think I’d have to laugh and at least joke about it with my friends because that would be a horribly awesome rejection. Anyway, I’m digressing (SHOCK!).
Writing about the writer’s life is part and parcel of why I blog. I started blogging before I sold my first book but over time, I’ve had to really think about how I speak, what I say and who I say it to. I’m a writer, this blog will be about my life, which includes writing. I don’t want to jam my books down your throats every three minutes, I don’t want to only be happy, I don’t want to whore myself. I’m a person so for me, when I think about what a blog is about, I think this blog is about my life. Sometimes I’m going to talk about my kids or my husband or the broken headlight I got at the grocery store. Other times I talk about editing or revising, sales and yep, rejections.
A blog should give readers/visitors a feel for who the blogger is so I think authors should think about that carefully. By that, I mean, think about how your content reflects upon you and what people take away about you from that. Is that how you want to be perceived?
Several months ago I read a blog entry where the author had been rejected by a certain house (one I write for actually, just to disclose that bias) and she spent quite a bit of time really dogging the house and the editor who rejected her. Another author replied in the comments several things I personally knew were untrue but the real issue is that to me, it ended up looking like sour grapes. Because when I read that I think, “EVERYONE gets rejected! Do you think you’re too special to be rejected? Are your words so sacred that any editor who reads then will be ensorceled by them and if not, they’re out to get you for some reason?” It gave me a very negative perspective on both the authors because it was vulgar. Now, I’m sure that author who’d been rejected was hurting. Rejection sucks. But there are appropriate ways to vent and it’s not on your blog naming names.
Also, filters and boundaries are important. There are things you’d say to your child’s teacher and things you’d say to your best friend – right? All kinds of things occur to me and yes, at times here I’m random and stream of consciousness but believe it or not, I am accutely aware of what’s appropriate. Occasionally, I’ll see author and sometimes industry blogs where completely inappropriate things are discussed and the owners of those blogs always seem so surprised when they get heat. If a professional uses her industry blog to bash another competetor I’m going to walk away with a negative feeling – AND SO WILL READERS. If an author uses her blog to whine about a review in great detail, I’m going to shake my head. Bad reviews are another thing that happens to EVERYONE. Suck it up and move on. Vent to your buddy on IM, eat some Ben and Jerry’s and don’t blog about it.
You can be goofy but still stay professional wrt this business. You can post pics of your dog’s new sweater or your new horse or the halloween costume you made for your kid but I really find discussions of the size of your partner’s wedding tackle to be outside the scope of a professional writing blog. Again, just me. I write sex, but I think we can talk about it unshamedly and openly without crossing the line into TMI. I don’t want to hear about fungal infections either. Nor do I want to see bigoted stuff.
Whew! Okay so that’s totally long winded and 100% opinion. My point is – it’s all in the execution. There’s a time and a place for things. Sharing ups and downs of a writer’s life is interesting – I don’t only want to see sunshine and rainbows, some days you really just feel like laying on the couch and eating fried foods while watching Rock of Love. Shrug. We can be human, we are human, but like anyone else in any other professional situation, it’s how we choose to address things that makes all the difference.