Wednesday, May 9, 2012

15 Things NOT to Blog About


It goes without saying that blogging is very public. If you want to be seen as a professional writer and snag an agent or editor, it's good to be wise about what you blog-post--or tweet or Facebook-post. Here's a list of things to watch out for, though most are admittedly slanted toward traditional publication rather than indie or self-publishing.

1. Posting excerpts of your own work, especially lengthy ones. Who really reads these? Best friends or your critique partners who have already read them? If you intend to publish these works someday, a future publisher may not want these floating around in cyberspace. The rule of thumb is to keep unpublished excerpts short, no more than 1-2 pages. If you're soon-to-be-published, make sure you get the okay from your publisher to post an excerpt from your upcoming book. Also, there's always the possibility that an unscrupulous writer may "borrow" your ideas.
2. Posting personal anecdotes and confessions. These are better suited for personal emails to close friends. Do you want an agent or editor going to your site and reading about your spat with your husband? Do we really need to know the nitty-gritties of your hysterectomy, or how your dog vomited on the laundry?
3. Stats of queries and rejections, posts of actual rejections. When you're published and famous, you can encourage others by saying how you've persevered through 187 queries/rejections and worked for 7 years to become published, but for beforehand, it's probably best to keep those to yourself. Stay general if you say you've been rejected! Imagine a future agent or editor reading what you've written; it may affect a future sale or business relationship.
4. Business relationship details. Don't go on about your breakup with an agent, publishing house, publicist, or critique group.  If you have a disagreement with these people, discuss it with them directly--or vent in private to close friends.
5. Status of your shopped manuscript. When you're on submission, don't list the details or length of time you've been hunting for a publisher. You can undermine your agent's work. You can ruin a potential deal. An editor may Google you and discover you've been out for months and months--and they are last on the list. For sharing good news, usually a writer waits until a Publisher's Weekly announcement is made.
6. Contract or book sales details. This includes contract specifics, number of author copies, number of books you've sold, etc. There are confidentiality clauses in publisher contracts; be sure to get a publisher's permission before sharing anything.
7. Monetary details. Comparing your advance amount or royalties with other writers' can cause dissention or grief. Consider that a huge advance isn't always better, because it's more difficult to "earn out" and begin collecting royalties--and publishers are more wary to publish you again if you don't "earn out."
8. Generally whiny or disgruntled rants about waiting on agents, how unfair the writing world is, how long it takes to get published, the dreck editors are publishing nowadays, how you loathed another writer's book, etc. Do you want to encourage or inspire, or be seen as a complainer?
9. Politics and religion. People have strong feelings about these; you're asking for controversy. It may be fun to generate a rousing discussion, but if you're aiming for publication, remember that you could be alienating future readers, and that agents/editors may browse your blog.
10. Identifying information. Be careful posting photos of your children, specifics about vacation plans (travel itinerary), info about where you work or live, your telephone number or personal email (it's recommended to get a separate email to use for blogging). Don't advertise to a burglar that your family will be away for two weeks!
11. Responding to negative reviews of your book. Don't. Do. It. It generates bad public relations, and doesn't cast you in a favorable light. The backlash is usually severe.
12. Constantly marketing your own book. Once we've seen it, we've seen it. Your followers already know the info, even if a few new followers may not. You're not increasing your sales or outreach.
13. Gross or bathroom humor, off-color videos, swearing, etc. Is this professional? Do we want an agent/editor to see it? We are writers--surely we can use our imaginations and find alternative ways to say things to avoid being offensive to some people.
14. Complaints about your editor's recent revision notes. No matter how you despise your editor's edits, remember that he/she might read your post!
15. Bragging. Be humble. No writer "has it made," and shouldn't treat followers as obsessively adoring fans. We are ALL learning, and we're at different points in our writing journeys.

Be careful out there.

YOUR TURN
Do you disagree with any of these points?
Can you add anything else to this list of things NOT to blog about?
Have you done one of these things, and regretted it? Will you change anything?



42 comments:

  1. Well, I am relieved that I haven't blogged about those things, so I must have good instincts! But, I have been contemplating doing a farce query letter to an agent, but now I think I'll hold off on that.

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  2. I was just about to post my query letter, now I'm thinking about doing so.

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  3. #1 is an interesting point. A couple of users at the writer's forum I'm a member of have "Teaser Tuesday/Thursday", although I hadn't read either. You're probably right about the whole "who reads them anyways" point.

    I'm too shy about posting excerpts of my work. I only have one page posted onto my blog, and it's a portion that will most likely be revised multiple times.

    I would also add a 16th thing not to blog about: offensive, uncivilized, or flat-out mean jabs at other people on the blogosphere.

    If I recall correctly (I can't confirm because my school blocks Twitter), but I think you saw a blog post by that one "middle school teacher" on the Story Siren Incident, and how it was a good thing. However, the "teacher" was extremely mean and immature in tone, stereotyping book bloggers and comparing them to high school drama.

    She has a point, but it's neglected by her malicious intent, and how disrespectful she is against the people she criticizes.

    Civility is important in blogging, but this "teacher" crossed a line, so I'm trying my best to avoid her. Not that it will likely happen, since she moderates her comments, and she isn't into social media.

    By the way, how long is the waitlist for public critiques?

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    1. In case anyone else is wondering about the public critiques too--currently NO waiting list! Send in your first 250 words anytime. I think most people read posts in Google Reader or their Dashboards and don't even see my critique offer in the side margin.

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  4. Such great advice, Carol. I've seen too many examples of people breaking these "rules" and it's never pretty. I might add that people would be wise to monitor the photos that get posted on Facebook. Sometimes friends and/or family members tag an author or soon to be author or post less than professional pictures that said writer would rather not have up the internet billboard.

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  5. Hey! If you can't brag on your own Blog! OMG

    Move #9 up to one.

    Otherwise, loved your list /OD

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    1. LOL, well-deserved "bragging" is excluded. I was thinking more about a condescending tone or attitude. We SHOULD brag or toot our horns when something awesome happens, like when we get an agent or book deal or our first books in the mail!

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  6. Thanks, Carol! You're posts are always so helpful. :)

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  7. Carol this is a brave and important post. No joking. People hate the 'don't' lists because they realize they've been screwing up. :) Good news? We all do from time to time.

    It's hard not to vent on your blog because these folks often become your second family, and for most writers are considered our coworkers. But you wouldn't gripe about your boss to a coworker if you thought your boss could hear, right?

    It's the Internet. EVERYONE can hear.

    I've violated the 'sharing of plans' rule a couple of times, more as a heads up to my followers if I'll be away for a few days. I typically don't say where I'm going or for exactly how long. I also blog under a pen name. But it's something I'll be more aware of now.

    All good things to keep in mind for sure.

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  8. Thanks so much for your critique. I'll send you an email once I receive more feedback.

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  9. Great list! I love #12 cause I have seen that overdone so often lately and it drives me nuts!!

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  10. I don't have anything to market (yet), but I do think about these things when I write my posts, and I'm careful to avoid pretty much all of them. Whew--I'm doing something right! :)

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  11. I liked this post, but I'm not sure about some of your rules. For example, re 13 have you checked out Chuck Wendig?


    I suppose the answer is that rules are there to be broken, although I agree that it's a tough judgement call at times.

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  12. I agree totally Carol. I'd add that if you're going through some job challenges like downsizing or your company going out of business, don't publicly talk about it on your blog. Future employers could find it too.

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  13. THANK YOU. I've never had the time to read excerpts on people's blogs and I absolutely hate it when people brag about their six-figure deals lol.

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  14. Totally agree with the majority of these! I confess to having written some scatological anecdotes and details that would make some people raise their eyebrows, but hey, that's my thing! (Or one of my things.) Perhaps people who have a bit of the humorist or memoirist in them can evade some of these rules?

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  15. Hey - let's hope no editors or book pirates read the NANOWRIMO blogs, lol! After that experience, I posted a query letter on my blog for feedback and found the comments helpful. I also had a fun conversation with a few readers about prologues.

    Blogging is about sharing and networking, and giving people who might be interested in you a look into who the person is behind the manuscript. Well, just my opinion and that's how I use blogging.

    What I do know is that your amazing writing will get your book published: that's the bottom line. I agree to be professional and all of these points are excellent, but I would add that an editor or agent who loves your book is not going to get ticked off if she finds out she was #50 on your list of potential homes. How much of the submission process is a game of luck and timing anyway? She will be delighted that others were not smart enough to snap it up!

    robinkoontz.wordpress.com

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  16. This is an excellent post! I agree with all of your good advice.

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  17. Your posts are always so helpful - thanks, Carol! I agree with almost all of what you said. I would add that for me, my blog is a place to show a bit of my own personality, as well as my journey as a writer. I try to always remember that being a writer means being a professional.

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  18. Good advice! I agree with all of those points.

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  19. I've done #1 and #9 in the past. Do I regret it? Well . . . mostly when I think of how bad the writing was in the longer excerpts. :P

    As for politics and religion, I consider my blog more a reflection of personal opinions and less of something that I'd use to generally promote my image. I don't post on subjects like that very often these days anyway, but (and again, this is just a personal standard; I think it can be wise to avoid the two) being constant with my own thoughts is important to me and I would not want to avoid posting on something I feel strongly about. I also don't mind coming across other posts with different views about politics/religion--everyone is entitled to their opinions and practically all the bloggers I've met and followed with such posts seem like interesting, reasonable individuals, even if I don't agree with some of their views.

    . . . and I'll stop talking now. :P

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  20. This is excellent advice, and actually, I stopped following a blog once because all the writer did was vent about work and coworkers.

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  21. This is a great list and advice.

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  22. I totally agree with every single one of those - great list.

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  23. Great post! I follow these all, with the exception of some number 13 related humor in the Weekend Follies.

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  24. Great list, Carol. I agree with just about the whole list. Definitely I think your blog has to be professional.

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  25. I agree with all of these! At the most I'll post a few lines from a WIP for a blogfest or challenge. I rarely discuss personal things, and if I do it's something innocent. Also, I don't mention all the behind the scene stuff with the agent, editor, or publisher.

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  26. I agree with all these Carol and would add that lengthy excerpts are such a switch off. People only enjoy reading short excerpts and flash pieces.

    I would also add interviews where you include the questions as well as the answers in a long, long, long post. It's megga dull and annoying. If you can't make the reply answer the question without the question don't put it in at all and separate the text in manageable chunks it's much easier to digest.

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  27. I definitely agree. The only items off the list I've done are excerpt-posting (usually not longer than a few paragraphs, though) and maybe talking about queries...

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  28. Fabulous post, Carol. I've seen far too many facepalm moments when reading other people's blogs and other social media.

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  29. Yup, I agree! My personal bugbear is when people post literally PAGES of their WIP. A paragraph or two, fine, but please don't make me scroll forever!

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  30. Super post, Carol! I think it's important, if your ultimate goal is to be a published author, to never post anything that an agent or an editor would frown on. Keep your posts (anywhere) positive. It's okay to say you've made a mistake and that you've learned something, but don't blame others in your posts, tweets, comments.... (and I second Talli).

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  31. Oh my, I had never thought of these things before (well, at least not all of them) and are guilty of some of them. *makes mental note to avoid certain issues on blog*

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  32. I agree with all of these, mostly. I think a little bit of personal life is ok. I think it depends on how it's handled, and the focus of your blog. There are moments when I think I've shared too much . . .especially in my first year of blogging.

    I agree that it's good to be careful, and yet I have a friend who posts pictures of her family and their story of faith in a way that is beautiful and inspiring, not just to those who know her but to others as well. Encouarged by others, she's found a market for her devotional writing that first found it's place on her blog.

    Again, I think it depends on your audience, and your purpose for writing.

    BTW - I posted some quotes from an acceptance letter and a rejection letter today on my blog - but I didn't name names, or include anything past the first line. So I guess I'm just a rule breaker. :-)

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  33. I found myself head-nodding throughout this post. Thank you.

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  34. WOW! Awesome post!
    I’m new at the whole blogging scene, and trying to get published at the same time, so unfortunately I have been leaning towards blogging about some of these! :/
    Thankfully, your points make perfect sense, and I was able to learn my lesson before an error was made!
    Thanks again!

    -Theresa
    Please feel free to follow my blog- its new!
    http://theresamjones.blogspot.com/

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  35. I think if you're writing for mainstream then most definitely keep your "religion" off the blog, but for me...I write inspirational fiction so my biggest audience is women of faith. I don't, however, talk about denominations or theological ponderings that might be controversial.

    These are great tips and I agree with all of them. I've seen people post about their rejections and things like that and I always cringe. They should know better! :)

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  36. Great list! The only one's I'd probably tweak are #2 and #9. I like sharing some personal stuff, though I agree that certain things are TMI. But I think if you can make it entertaining or informative, it works. And while I don't do #9 a lot myself, a lot of people that I respect do. But you should proceed with caution and not just use it to start a fight.

    Thanks for the food for thought, and congrats on getting a RAOK shoutout this week!

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  37. Great post, Carol. I tend to move on if I come across a whole post that is a WiP unless I know that's the focus of the blog.

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  38. Excellent reminders, Carol. I hate the posts with excerpts. Unless it's a brief snippet for a blogfest or something, I simply don't read them. I'm at someone's blog for them, not their writing. I want to get to know that blogger... and of course anything whiny makes me run like the wind blows.

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  39. Lots of Good information in your post, I favorited your blog post so I can visit again in the future, Thanks.

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