Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Blogging and Platforming

You’ve read Janet Reid’s post about the dangers of talking about rejections online, correct? Just making sure.

She suggests keeping your querying off your blog completely and I understand her reasoning. She says it sounds like complaining. Well, yeah, it is. Posting about rejection or waiting is cathartic. Unfortunately, if you’re using your blog to build your platform, then venting is not what it’s for. It’s for building connections in the blogosphere and publishing industry.

You know, this isn’t my only blog. I have another one where I complain about everything. It would be nice to get sympathy from friends about the process, but that’s not what this is for. It’s for inflicting etymology on you. My other blog, however, is just for complaining. It’s also just for me because I don’t think it’s very fun to read groaning and moaning about how everything is everyone else’s fault. Hey, it’s my blog and I’m not using it to make connections.

That isn’t to say it’s completely wrong to voice a complaint on your blog. Just do it with sensitivity to the blog’s purpose. Remember that there are a lot of agents out here with us and they might not like seeing criticisms of their policies. Say you worked in advertising and you had a blog to connect with other industry professionals. You wouldn’t start bashing their companies when a deal fell through, would you? No. Because it would be professional suicide. As awesome as writing and blogging is, it is a profession, too. Unless you want to stay at amateur status, you can’t rip on people. A legitimate complaint is different, but even then it could turn companies off from working with you. That may not seem fair, but everyone is uneasy with working with someone who might go to the internet and complain about them.

Look at this situation that Paul Joseph brought up (and especially read the two articles he links to). A teacher’s personal blog was found by her students and her venting did not go over well with the parents. On one hand, it’s her blog, she didn’t post details and the people are really being oversensitive. On the other hand, it upset--and I can’t blame them for this--the students she’s supposed to be teaching.

I’m all for freedom of speech, but with that comes with a legitimate factor: you have to be prepared to deal with the consequences. Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from repercussions. It means freedom from interference. I don’t like that the teacher may be fired but that’s the thing about the digital age. Anything you post is really hard to eradicate. That’s why people suggest you don’t post drunken pictures of yourself on Facebook. Perspective employers can access them. 

In the end, all of this is a murky issue. The answer to "how much is too much?" is not easy to get to and requires constant thought, reevaluation, and sensitivity. It’s possible that in ten years, people will be far more accepting of annoyed blog posts. It’s also possible they’ll put in a "no blogging" clause in employee contracts. 

Blog with care. The internet is not as consequence free as it seems.


  1. I'm glad that this has been a focus. I'm on the teacher's side with this one. I've heard more than enough stories about teachers and students not caring. Seeing her lay out her feelings on the situation, although it was a little crude, was a breath of fresh air. This is why states keep lowering the standards for passing grades.

    It's a tough situation though. We can't fully blame the children, parents, or the school system. I believe it is partially everyone's fault and no one is willing to take the first step to fix it. One of the articles I read on this made it sound like the government is really taking notice to it now.

    Like with anything, you have to accept the consequences. Maybe she was hoping that she would be recognized.

  2. My bet is on the no blogging clause. My daughter's, My Space and Face Book page were both hacked and someone posted terrible things under her name there. So I suspect, we might have to add a clause to our resume as well.
    N. R. Williams, The Treasures of Carmelidrium

  3. Great opinions- I err on the side of caution and don't complain about anything related in the writing world. Of course I'll jump on a cause or statement like the speakloudly campaign, but I still won't bash anyone or say anything rude or mean. It comes back to you. Even if you have a personal blog that you rant on, you still have to be careful because agents could come across that too. Anything on the internet is free game and if you don't want anyone to see it, don't post it. You are so right about having to face the consequences with stuff like that. On the flip side, I would hope agents wouldn't rag on writers who submit to them and I haven't really come across any that have. At least not by name. Good post!

  4. Hey, the Internet is a public place. It should be treated as such. May the writer beware. ;o)

  5. I just recently saw Janet Reid's post. I saved it to faves to blog about, too. I also totally get what she's saying, but apparently some people took the "Look, I got rejected and I'm sharing it with my blogging friends" a little too far and waved it in her face by sending her the link. Why would anyone seeking representation do that? As a writer with a blog about becoming a better writer, I've posted about my rejections in order to find out WHY I was rejected and what I can do to "fix the issue". I believe Janet said not even to blog about being rejected, but well, it happens. Why hide it as long as specific names and details are left out. Right? christy

  6. I read a post the other day about how cordial and truly embracing the writing community can be, and I fully believe it's our calling (self-imposed) as writers to maintain that standard and ideal. It's easy to complain. It's easy to whine. It's not as easy to keep a smile and report only the positive, but as a man thinketh, so is he. Personally I'd rather be that positive person others like to be around.

  7. The problem with blogs is that they were originally billed as online journals - a place to write a post like you would a journal. HOWEVER, if you put something online, it's no longer personal or private. It doesn't matter how few people follow the blog and how little you do to tell people about it. Once something's out there, people will find it and read it and it might not be the people you want reading it.

    I wrote about this not too long ago, as well: http://a-musedwriter.blogspot.com/2011/02/mm-your-blog-is-marketing-tool-whether.html

  8. Kindros: It is nice to see some passion, although she was really just venting to family. It wasn't meant to be public.

    Nancy: I think that's where it's heading, too. That sucks about your daughters pages being hacked. Unfortunately, there's a lot of sleaze on the internet.

    Abby: Yes. You have to be careful what you post just like you have to be careful what you say.

    Carol: Perfectly put.

    Christy: I can't imagine why someone would email an agent a post complaining about rejection, and I sure get why she was irked by it. And I don't think posting about rejection is bad. Today, Ms. Reid even posted a link to an appropriate rejection story.

    Cheesy: I like the positive side of things, too.

    Kristie: Exactly. The internet is in no way private, no matter what button you click.

  9. I have not reached the querying stage in my writing journey yet, but when the time comes, I am keeping it quiet. I may mention little things I learn along the way, but complaining about rejection is a dangerous move. IMO, there is no easier way to make your name known in a negative light, and your chances of ever being signed are dramatically reduced. I don't link it to freedom of speech. We have the right to complain. It is important to remember, however, that doing this paints a negative image of you in the mind of others, and that may not be the image you want painted.

    Thank you for the plug!

  10. "Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from repercussions." This.

    As a writer seeking publication, I feel it's simply bad karma to slam anyone who has anything to do with the creative arts. If I review a book, it's because I loved it. If I've had a bad or disappointing writing or publishing experience, I keep my feelings about it offline.

    There are, of course, limits to this policy. Where there is out and out abuse, it should be exposed. But that's what Preditors & Editors is for.

  11. Companies are watching what their employees are doing. I work for a small company and posted my holiday newsletter on my personal blog. The newsletter contained one line with the company name in it - where I mentioned how much I loved working there - and the PR people called within 4 hours to report an employee mentioned the company on a blog.

    Things are so visible now. I agree that it is best to think carefully about what will zing around in internet land forever.

  12. I think where the teacher is concerned however, you are comparing apples to oranges. She is not using her blog as a professional career building platform. She does not hope to get jobs from her blog and it her personal journal. But I think there is a real issue here and that there is no real freedom of speech (and I'm not talking about professionalism-) people get fired all the time for not playing the game the right way, for saying things that aren't politically correct (and I'm not just talking about the obvious kind of PC jargon). That's intimidation. It limits free speech. It doesn't take government regulation to limit speech.

  13. Good to know. Honestly, I might not have ever thought of any of that. Luckily, I haven't started querying yet, so it's too early for me to be angsting about anything but wanting to get started!

    <3 Gina (fellow dystopian crusader)

  14. Yeah, I won't be venting about the querying process on my blog - I've got another online journal, one well hidden from the world, for that :P

  15. I'm a firm believer in the delete button/option is a lie. Once something is out on the net, it's there forever. You can take it down but there will always be a footprint left behind. And heaven forbid someone read or see it or copy and past it somewhere else before it's removed. If a bit of information or a picture is one you don't want the rest of the world seeing or reading, don't even take the risk.

  16. I like the post.

    I think it is important to remember that Blogs, facebook, tweeting, all of it is public, and remember the Way Back Machine (http://www.archive.org/web/web.php)! Once it is out there you can't take it back.

    If you want to build a virtual presence for a future career, you have to make sure not to step on toes or present yourself as a poo poo head.

    fellow crusader

  17. I definitely think we all have to consider repercussions. I work in academia by day, and so do all my writing with a 'pen name' (actually just drop my first, but it makes it so those 'professional' connections can't just stumble across me). On the other hand, my BLOG is to network with writers and I think the querying process is part of it. I would never post an agent's NAME in any negative way, and I leave things a little vague, but if I want to say I'm in querying hell, I don't think there is anyone who ought to be offended... it's a miserable thing to be doing.

  18. Anything on the internet is caveat emptor. Nice call out.

  19. I don't mind rejections - it often makes me look long and hard at what I wrote and make changes that I somehow had missed.


Please validate me.