What NOT to Blog About

Tape over mouthIn this age of social media, it can be easy to fall into a “letting it all hang out” mindset. But if you’re engaging in social networking as a way to help your writing career, you can’t afford major missteps in your online persona. The trick is to be a real person without over-sharing.

As an author, there are specific things you should avoid in your blogging, Tweeting or Facebooking. Here are some of them:

♦ Contract provisions

This one seems obvious, but many authors don’t realize how many things are covered in their contract and hence are subject to the contract’s confidentiality clause. Any of the following are typically off-limits for discussion (public or otherwise) unless you have your publisher’s permission to disclose.

  • Amount of your advance
  • Advance payout schedule
  • Royalty rates
  • Author buyback discount
  • Number of free author copies you receive
  • Anything else specifically covered in your contract!

♦ Status of your manuscript being shopped

If you’re a published author and your agent is shopping a manuscript to publishers other than your current publisher, you need to keep silent about this. Don’t talk about how you’re so excited to move beyond XYZ Publisher. Don’t tweet your excitement to be at ABC Conference telling all the editors about your new book. Keep it to yourself. Saying the wrong thing in a public forum can have real-world ramifications, possibly negative, because editors at the various publishers can see you online, and they also talk to each other. You can literally blow a potential deal this way.

If you’re unpublished and your agent is shopping your manuscript, again, don’t share publicly about it. Not one word! Your agent is strategically managing the process, including what information to share with whom. A careless slip-of-the-fingers on the keyboard can hamstring the agent’s ability to sell the manuscript.

Similarly, if you’re seeking an agent, it’s best not to go into detail about your rejections. Sharing the process in a general way is fine, but with everything you write, imagine a potential agent reading it. Would it turn them off from representing you?

♦ Unhappiness with your publisher, agent, or publicist

Your blog, public Facebook page or Twitter stream is not the place to complain about the people with whom you are doing business. This is something you need to take directly to the offending person, and if you need to discuss it with others, do it privately with close friends.

♦ Extreme social or political opinions

This is a sticky one. You want to be “yourself” online as much as possible. Yet if you’re online as a way to create relationships with readers as well as potential business partners (agents, editors) you may need to temper your instinct to make your social and political views an important part of your online persona. There’s no need to alienate people who don’t agree with your views, yet might very well love you and your books.

♦ Ranting or venting

I’m not saying you can’t have a rant now and then. (I’m guilty!) But I recommend you don’t make venting a regular feature if you’re trying to connect with readers or with the publishing community. Be yourself — the best version of yourself! Be someone that others would want to work with or learn more about.

What are some other things you probably shouldn’t blog about? 

 

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  • http://www.davidcleinman.com/writings Dave Cleinman

    An excellent article. Brief and impactful. I agree about extremes being a bad idea, and definitely never discuss current negotiations in public! As far as ranting goes… humor is a great modifier, but complaints are a turn-off! Thanks for sharing this info, Rachelle!

  • http://riseoftheslush.blogspot.com Landra Graf

    I also think you should avoid a ton of personal information like how much you and your hubby are arguing etc. Don’t get me wrong I like seeing cute pics of the dog dressed up or the kids running around on Halloween, but the personal laundry or martial issues can kind of kill my love for an author.

    Great Post and good reminders.

  • http://www.kaishon.blogspot.com Life with Kaishon

    Wow : )
    That is a lot to think about.

  • http://laussieswritingblog.blogspot.com L’Aussie

    Hi! Good post. I’ve seen some bloggers criticising ‘boring’ bloggers. I think except for the things you’ve said (which should be common sense) and others like it, people should blog/tweet/fb/google+ their little fingers off and be true to themselves, but don’t get personal about other bloggers!

    Denise

  • http://chariseolson.com Charise

    I don’t think people should go on and on and on and yes, ON about anything. No one can know enough about one subject to post 1000+ words.

    • http://www.timothyfish.net Timothy Fish

      I agree that posts should be kept short, but I find your reasoning interesting. We are talking about writers, who routinely write books containing 50,000+ words on one subject.

      • http://chariseolson.com Charise

        It’s about knowing the when/where of things. I don’t believe the blog format lends itself to LeeeeeeeeeEEEEEEEEEEENGTH.

        • http://about.me/mariadkins Mari

          My blog would be a total turn off to you, then. I routinely blog posts of upwards towards, and beyond, two thousand words. So do a lot of my friends; most of those post upward toward five thousand word posts.

      • http://about.me/mariadkins Mari

        Right there with ya.

    • http://kristinlaughtin.blogspot.com Kristin Laughtin

      Oh, I think plenty of people know enough about something to go on for 1000+ words. (I could have easily done so in my post last week!)

      Like you said, though, the blog format doesn’t lend itself well to extreme length. Most people won’t want to read that much. If a blogger must go on at length about something, it’s probably better to split up the topic and do it over multiple posts.

      • http://chariseolson.com Charise

        Exactly! I can go on- but it is knowing the format you’re working with and using it appropriately.

  • http://carolriggs.blogspot.com Carol Riggs

    Excellent advice! I cringe when I read blogs that tell how many rejections a writer has received, and how many fulls are out to agents, etc. Some even post rejection emails word for word! Ouch. I think moderation is the key thing for everything, and complete silence is the key thing for all the points you mentioned!

    • http://kristinlaughtin.blogspot.com Kristin Laughtin

      Exactly what I came in to say! It seems self-pitying and doesn’t reflect well on the author. Plus, I think it sounds much better later when you can make a post that says, “___ was rejected X times before it was published!” That at least is encouraging.

  • http://writenonsensically.blogspot.com Komal

    I think you should never bring up a negative review you have received for your book, regardless of what the reviewer has said about it.

    You should be grateful someone spent the time reading and reviewing your book even if they didn’t like it very much. There is no need to attack someone for their honest opinion.

    • http://www.timothyfish.net Timothy Fish

      I’ve learned to ignore reviews both good and bad. If someone has something to say to me, they’ll say it to my face.

    • Rachelle Gardner

      You’re right – responding to reviews is bad form, unless it’s just a brief, “Thank you for the review.”

  • http://www.kristinnador.com Kristin

    I’ve noticed a lot of writers will post about their plans to attend writer conferences as well as vacation plans before they take them. Probably not a good thing if your name is attached with it, because there are evil people trolling the social networks looking for burglary opportunities in their areas. It’s so easy to pretty much find out everything about someone like their address if you have the motivation. I love to hear about these things, but its probably a better practice to report on it after the fact.

    • http://www.timothyfish.net Timothy Fish

      It may be true that people are doing as you say, but I can’t help but wonder if there isn’t something wrong with people like that. If I were looking to rob someone, wouldn’t it be much easier to just make a note of when they leave in the morning and when they come back in the evening? A person parked in a neighborhood could keep track of several houses at once, break into several within a few minutes and be gone. A person looking information on the Internet will find information from thousands of neighborhoods in hundreds of cities that he would have to filter through.

      • Anonymous

        I believe the advice about being careful about advance scheduling is important. They have already caught people doing that to find out schedules.

        Some writers (and others) may have people at their homes while they are traveling and this should be mentioned if they are going to mention advanced schedules in my opinion. (Even if they don’t they should say they do if they are going to mention stuff in advance.)

    • http://chelleang.com Chelleang

      You should never ever post on any social media when and where you’re going to be. That is the best way as one person says to alert crooks as to your whereabouts. I know the need to stay connected to your readers is important but for your own safety and the safety of the ones you love refrain from doing so. What I do for a living gives me first hand knowledge of what not to do when it comes to putting your personal lives on social media. Cruising social media is the best and sometimes easiest ways to alert those who have ill intentions.

  • Jessie

    Very useful…I am not a writer yet but I hope to be able to publish something one day maybe a literary fiction or something like that.Reading this makes me think…esp.about extreme social and political statements…thanks.

  • http://www.CrazyAboutChurch.com Charles Specht

    Social Media is a lot like the pages of your latest soft cover. Once it is in ink, you can’t go back and revise or edit. It’s etched in stone. Think about that before you hit that publish button.

    • Rachelle Gardner

      But it’s so easy to click “send” without a second thought!

    • http://philsrogers.wordpress.com Phil Rogers

      That’s funny I always re-read my blog posts after a couple of days and find myself editing them. Sometimes I find myself wanting to do the same thing with comments!

  • http://mrhmccann.blogspot.com/ McKenzie McCann

    I agree with these for the most part, but I think it ultimately comes down to what kind of blog you’re running. I don’t mind reading about a strong opinion, as long as it’s not presented in a rude way. I read blogs to connect with the blogger, and if they have opinions, I want to hear them.

    As far as ranting goes, well, if the blog is treated almost like an online diary, then I don’t mind. I like it when the blogger lowers their shield for a minute.

    • Sra

      Yeah, true to a point. But like you said, it really does depend on the kind of blog.

      A blog where that’s the point of it, (ie. someone who is blogging as a blogger) then yes.

      But a blog where the point is not blog posts but marketing or getting out information about their work (ie. someone who is blogging as an author using a media source) then probably not.

    • http://www.timothyfish.net Timothy Fish

      I know I don’t care for reading blogs when people don’t really have much of an opinion about anything.

    • Rachelle Gardner

      Yes, it certainly depends on the purpose of your blog. My advice can’t be applied across the board; but it’s meant to encourage everyone to thoughtfully consider what’s appropriate for them in their own situation.

  • http://chrissymcfarlane.blogspot.com Christine McFarlane

    Great advice. As an emerging writer, it is good to read stuff like this.

  • http://neuroticworkaholic.blogspot.com Neurotic Workaholic

    I think bloggers shouldn’t say too many negative things about other writers, particularly published writers. It’s one thing for a blogger to review a book that he or she didn’t really care for, and everyone has a right to their opinions. But on the other hand, it’s something else altogether to attack someone online.
    I also read a blog post once where this blogger and his friends were trying to drive a woman out of business because they were dissatisfied with the type of service she provided. The blogger was really vindictive in his post; even though the post wasn’t about writing, his attack on the business owner was so mean it made me not want to read his blog ever again.

    • http://www.timothyfish.net Timothy Fish

      My approach to reviews is that I don’t post negative reviews. I may post one that is short of glowing, but not negative. I figure that there are plenty of terrible books I’ve never read that I will never review, so it is no loss if I don’t review a book I read and didn’t like.

  • http://www.facebook.com/pages/P-J-Casselman/176559919090167 P. J. Casselman

    Faith issues that are polarizing is a good way to alienate a follower. Eternal security, tongues, music styles in church, and the problems you find with other denominations all spring to mind. There’s a time and a place to come to an understanding about such issues, but if you’re doing it in your blog, you’ll soon be “preaching to the choir.” Unless you are trying to sell a book to a particular audience only (e.g. the old time religion crowd), then your blog on why choruses are shallow and hymns are so rich and endearing is just going to bring a sigh-click.
    And for those who took offense at my example…cool! You proved the point! ^^

    • http://www.10minutewriter.com Katharine

      Totally agree with this! Nothing turns me off more when a Christian blogger (who wants to be a published writer) slams another Christian blogger because of their specific preferences, or an opinion or even a misunderstood quote. I see this a lot in bloggers who claim that they’re just pointing out truth, but it comes across to me as criticism at best and a witch hunt mentality at worst. I think the more biblical approach would be to confront privately, if you have to respond to it at all. I think I’d have more respect for some Christian bloggers if they would allow “love covers a multitude of sins” as their default setting in response to others.

    • http://www.timothyfish.net Timothy Fish

      I won’t say that I’m offended at what you said, but I certainly can’t agree with it. If we fall silent on the things you mentioned, we might as well not say anything at all. I have great respect people who state their point of view with conviction, even when I know they are wrong. I have no respect for people who don’t know what they believe and don’t care.

      • http://www.facebook.com/pages/P-J-Casselman/176559919090167 P. J. Casselman

        Timothy, perhaps there are a few things we could bring up outside of minor controversies. God’s wonderful creation, our Father’s awesome love for us, our sin, Christ’s redemption, unimaginable grace, the need for forgiveness, the victory of answered prayer, the needs we see and answers we’re given, things that happened on our daily walk, the way the Great Commission is carried out, or the day to day miracles that God performs in lives around us. Or perhaps we could talk about our relationships, funny incidents, tragic results, painful decisions, grand results, or our evolving point of view.
        You are totally free to blog whatever you like, but if not speaking on why you, as a Baptist, have a superior theology than John Doe, a Methodist, then your audience will soon be Baptist. That’s not always a bad thing, I suppose. Rush Limbaugh’s audience is huge. However, to say that there is nothing else to talk about seems an overstatement.

        • http://www.timothyfish.net Timothy Fish

          P. J.,
          Interesting. Historically, sin, redemption, and grace are among some of the most controversial topics in Christianity. Martin Luther left Catholicism because of his views on grace. Long before that, the ana-baptists and the Catholics were arguing over the role of baptism in redemption.

          But here’s the thing. The reason we write is to teach or persuade people. I’m willing to concede that if we come across too strong that we won’t persuade, but rather alienate. However, if all we’re doing is telling people things they already agree with, then we’re wasting our time.

          • http://www.facebook.com/pages/P-J-Casselman/176559919090167 P. J. Casselman

            Timothy, that’s true about the controversy. Whenever we step outside the bounds of what is revealed and enter the realm of speculation as to how, we are going to land in controversy. Often, I find it more edifying to confirm that God is at work in our lives in spite of a world that teaches otherwise. My battle is not with my Christian brothers and sisters, but with the principalities that are also the foes of my brothers and sisters. In the event that someone is called to stand up against false teaching, then they should do so. We just need to be careful what we label as false. It could just be another view on an otherwise agreed upon matter.
            I used to listen to a guy name “Hank” on the radio, but stopped when he started bashing Wesleyans. I noticed his show lost half its support within a few months. He sure told us a thing or two…until we turned the station. On the other hand, if I tune in to hear Charles Stanley, I am not bothered by his viewpoint, because I know he is preaching to a Baptist audience. If your blog is meant to support your writing, controversy can either be good or bad, but if you’re relatively unknown, it’s usually bad. Why, because they won’t be talking about it. They’ll move on.

          • http://www.timothyfish.net Timothy Fish

            There was a time in the area where I grew when the Saturday night entertainment was when the Baptists and the Methodists or the Missionary Baptists and the General Baptists would get together and debate. That was before my time. I doubt anyone ever truly won those debates, but to hear people talk, they sure enjoyed the discussion.

  • http://www.susanhmcintyre.com Susan H. McIntyre

    We must always remember that a blog is public. Good manners and discretion are even more important when speaking in public. Save the vents and rants for private conversation. Also, this blog is a good example of writing with something to say, something worth reading. Don’t be boring either. Leave the reader with something to think about!

  • Kiana

    Bloggers might also want to consider toning down their language and not swearing. I personally don’t have anything against four letter words, but many people do. I cringe whenever I hear or read someone swearing out in public, and your blog is public.

    What I discovered by hanging out on a forum where swearing is not allowed, is that I became much more creative and descriptive in my posts as I couldn’t reach for the old standbys and had to find another way of expressing myself. It was an enlightening experience.

    • http://www.LifeAbundantlyFree.org Kate Johnson

      Reminds me of a quote I read once that has always stuck with me.

      “If he didn’t throw around the coarse four letter words, it was because, unlike today’s young literati, he had a vocabulary large enough and precise enough that he didn’t need to.”

      • leisuretime

        My senior high school English teacher used to say that using curse words was the sign of an uneducated mind or a lazy man. She also said that about using the words “it” and “thing”.

        • http://jilldomschot.blogspot.com Jill

          English teachers like to say things like that on principle, but some of the most educated people I know have the foulest mouths. Not that anybody need use “bad” words in blogs or otherwise–just saying.

          • leisuretime

            I think that is why she included the lazy category.
            Mind you that was 30+ years ago. Today is a different culture – there seems to be a larger contingent that curses just for kicks.

  • http://www.wizardofotin.blogspot.com otin

    I’ve been trying to avoid blogging about my novel. I don’t want to jinx myself.

  • http://4broadminds.blogspot.com/ carol brill

    Rachelle, your first point clears up why so many published authors seem secretive about details (which newbies like me long to hear) It never occured to me they are respecting confidentiality clauses. another good insight. thanks carol

  • http://Www.healnowandforever.net Jodi Aman

    I never brag or complain. Bad taste! Plus it is just putting negative energy out there. I’d rather inspire.
    Love,
    Jodi

  • http://www.marleengagnon.com Marleen Gagnon

    Thanks Rachelle for this information. People don’t seem to remember that what they put on the net is out there forever. Don’t rant, don’t rave, don’t talk about anything personal involving you or your family, don’t constantly push the book you’ve just sold and don’t ask for money no matter how desperate or wonderful the cause.

  • http://www.helenahalme.com Helena Halme

    Rachel,

    This is such good advice. I learned through the hard way, but won’t go into it here…

    Another ‘no no’ for me is family disputes. It doesn’t matter whether your family members read your blog or not, they may find out and venting in public can only make matters worse.

    Helena

  • http://www.katieganshert.blogspot.com Katie Ganshert

    Whoops! I totally shared about my book being out on submission before I got the contract. I didn’t talk about any specific publishers, but I did blog about my book awaiting pub board.

    I’m glad it didn’t mess anything up!

    I couldn’t agree more about the ranting. Or whining. Or complaining.

  • http://www.chattykelly.com Kelly Combs

    I don’t like to read posts about family arguments unless it wraps up to lesson learned and a resolution. I once read a Christian bloggers post about how unhappy she was in her marriage, and it slammed her husband. While I felt badly for her (and him!), I thought this would be better shared with a marriage counselor, friend or pastor – not the entire internet.

    Keep it upbeat!

    • http://www.timothyfish.net Timothy Fish

      My personal opinion is that a spouse shouldn’t be talking bad about the other person to other people at all, and that includes a close personal friend or a pastor.

      • http://www.chattykelly.com Kelly Combs

        I concur about talking bad about your spouse. However sometimes issues may be bigger than you can handle, and it helps to have a mentor help you make good choices.

  • http://babblefromtheburbs.blogspot.com/ Kathryn Elliott

    Great post, Rachelle!

    Often times I stop short during the morning blog browse and wonder, “Wow, he/she thought THAT was wise?” My rule of thumb, if the post does not offer anything helpful, amusing or insightful, probably best to take a day off. And although I’m guilty of the occasional rant, I try to share more laughs than loathing – just makes the world a better place. (Channeling my inner Mary Poppins today.)

  • http://crowproductions.com joan Cimyotte

    That is such a good reminder to us. Every thing we say on FB or Twitter or blogs can be viewed by anyone. It is a strange new world. So much is opened up to us. It is easy to see how easily a person can get carried away and spill everything to everybody. Great advice, Rachelle!

    • Rachelle Gardner

      So true, Joan, and even if we delete something, it probably still exists out there *somewhere.* Good to think about!

  • http://www.sueharrison.com Sue Harrison

    I appreciate this post, Rachelle. It’s great to have a checklist for blog posts.

    On subjects to avoid – unless the blogger is writing a book review, it’s a dangerous thing to criticize/rant about another writer or a book. When I read strong criticism in a post, I’m likely to feel irritated with the person who wrote the post.

    • Rachelle Gardner

      I agree, Sue. Everyone in the writing/publishing community should keep professional courtesy in mind.

  • http://www.writeanovelin10minutesflat.wordpress.com Cathy

    A useful corrective. Thanks. Cathy x

  • http://tcavey.blogspot.com/ TC Avey

    Good advice, especailly about the contract, I will keep that in mind!
    For me however, I disagree on the political aspect but that is because I feel lead to blog about political topics. God is my boss so I am not going to worry if my political blogging hurts my publishing chances, especially since the audience who would probably buy my book will be interested in current events/politics or will potentially learn to be interested in them after reading my book.
    Thanks for the advice! Have a great day!

  • http://gilesth.blogspot.com Giles hash

    Great advice! I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks keeping extreme political opinions to one’s self is a good idea :) I have VERY strong political views, a little extreme in some cases, but I never broadcast them on my blog. I just won’t do it.

  • http://www.jamesscottbell.com James Scott Bell

    Excellent, excellent advice. I sometimes feel a “rant” wanting to break out, and that’s when I step back and count to 1023. I need to remind myself that my blog is also a service to my readers and that self-control is a virtue sadly losing traction in our society.

    I will say that it is entertaining (or maybe more like a car wreck) to see two ranters go at it in the blogosphere, like what happened between Frank Miller and David Brin. But all of that takes energy, and my energy needs to stay focused on writing fiction, not ranting.

    This does not mean you can’t share the occasional strong opinion. But it does mean utilizing wisdom. Just because it CAN be posted doesn’t mean it SHOULD be.

    Thanks for the great post, Rachelle.

    • Rachelle Gardner

      “This does not mean you can’t share the occasional strong opinion. But it does mean utilizing wisdom.” Exactly, Jim. Thanks.

  • http://www.sundijo.com Sundi Jo

    My initial thought is if you have to be told this, perhaps it’s not time for you to be a published author yet.

    Love your advice. New to your blog.

  • http://stevenmmoore.com Steven M. Moore

    Hi Rachelle,
    Good advice, but written for authors still participating in the legacy publishing paradigm. Indie authors rarely have contracts. LOL.
    I might be wrong, but blogging provides new content for a website. That content has to be periodically new, exciting and interesting, or no one returns. No one wants to read about your dog’s new tricks or how your lecherous two-headed uncle influenced your most recent book (well, maybe about how he got two heads). My blog is mainly op-ed (opinions about current events), although I throw in short stories and book reviews along with my periodic “News and Notices from the Writing Trenches.” The politics, though, seem to work because I keep it clean and thoughtful (I try, at least) and I allow anyone to comment if it’s clean and thoughtful.
    Maybe this doesn’t sell many of my books, but I’m writing a blog for more reasons than that: (1) increasing name recognition and (2) honing my writing skills (putting out two serious posts per week is not easy…there was a time I did this plus a serialized novel).
    Writing is work. It’s also fun. Writing a regular blog is both.
    All the best,
    Steve
    P.D. I’m an indie writer who likes agents. I just think you should help readers find writers and not help publishers find (and exploit) writers.

    • http://claudenougat.blogspot.com Claude Nougat

      I fully support what you just said: Rachelle’s post, excellent as it is, seems to be directed to published writers and those aspiring to be published by traditional publishers.

      This said, Rachelle, your post gives useful advice and I’ve tweeted about it!

      And Steven, like you I run an op-ed kind of blog, plus post an occasional short story and cooking recipe. And do it twice a week, which I find fairly easy and fun. You’re right, it keeps one’s writing honed…and hopefully will help build our “brand”!

      Like you, I’m self-pubbed and I really have no idea whether my blog helps sell my books or not (I hope so!)

      The similarities are awesome! I must go visit your blog!

    • Rachelle Gardner

      Your point is well-taken, Steven. But I wonder if you’re saying it’s advisable for indie authors to share willy-nilly about every aspect of their publishing experience, including their sales and revenues? I’d just advise wisdom and careful thought.

    • http://www.timothyfish.net Timothy Fish

      Even without a contract with traditional publisher, there are plenty of things I don’t talk about that is related to publishing. I don’t tell people how many books I’ve solde. I don’t tell people how much money I’m making from each book. I don’t tell many people what I’m writing about until close to the time the book goes to press.

      • http://stevenmmoore.com Steven M. Moore

        @Rachelle, @Timothy,
        If you read my post in its entirety, you would see what I consider a blog good for. Everything else in my mind is excluded…including discussions of income tax tricks, laudatory comments about drinking binges, promoting politically incorrect stereotypes, etc, etc. BTW, I stand corrected: Indie authors often do have contracts…for self-pubbing trade paperbacks or eBooks. But what do I know…?
        Interesting thread…reminds me of why I’m generally a lurker. ;-)
        All the best,
        Steve

  • http://www.laurapauling.com Laura Pauling

    I know a lot of authors and prepubbed writers find inspiration from these, but I don’t care for whiny posts about how hard the journey is, especially when the author is published. I think that should be saved for emails with friends and phone calls.

    I know it’s sharing and emotional but to me it ends up looking desperate. And I believe these posts draw a lot of readers. But I think it’s a little bit unprofessional.

    • http://ricklipman.blogspot.com Rick

      Goodness, yes, this. Especially from folks sharing how upset or discouraged or fatigued they are along the way – repeatedly – even after say, signing with an agent, or getting a book deal, or receiving good reviews.

      I understand it’s that brand of “total honest”, and yes, it seems a lot of people are drawn to that. But it strikes me as whiny and self-pitying, and maybe I lack the requisite amount of empathy but all I can think every time is that scene from Mean Girls where the girl says, “I just have a lot of feelings!”

      I can sympathize, but sharing those sorts of things quite publicly and quite regularly makes me think… less highly of someone, to put it mildly.

  • http://taralazar.wordpress.com Tara Lazar

    Please nothing about how your kid was up vomiting at 3am. I’ve seen some folks write some pretty disgusting things. I stopped following an author who tweeted about seeing doggie diarrhea in the street and how gross it was. Why did he have to gross me out, too? Blech.

  • http://rmabry.com Richard Mabry

    Rachelle, Thanks for enumerating some things that should be matters of common sense, but all too often aren’t.
    Just as emails made it too easy to send communications we later regret, blogging tempt us to reveal things that are better kept unsaid or confined to the privacy of our home or family.

    • http://MarjiLaine.blogspot.com Marji Laine

      Well said, and exactly what I was thinking, too. I think the fact that we sit alone and type our comments gives us the illusion that we are detached from them.

    • JR

      I know of one well-published author who seems to be deliberately trying to turn off readers and publishers.

      So few people get published. Those that do should adhere to a level of professionalism and not slog around in the mud. I would add that if you find yourself going into the mud, seeking help would not be a bad idea.

  • http://katdish.net katdish

    Ah, so glad I have no plans of becoming a published author. I do love a good rant. Although I do try to stay out of the political fray as much as possible. There’s enough of that already.

  • http://www.melissacutler.net Melissa Cutler

    Great post, Rachelle. I don’t like to read comlaints about writing from authors whose work I’m a reader of. When they whine about the burden of writing, or editing even, or how they’re not enjoying it, that’s a real turn off to me. I’ve even stopped reading an author’s work because of this. If they don’t like what they’re doing, then why should I care?

  • http://judyblackcloud.wordpress.com/ Andi Judy

    I think you should avoid posting anything nasty or negative about other authors or engaging in petty fights on twitter/facebook/blogs etc. I’ve seen a number of authors lose my respect after going off on a negative review.

  • http://amysorrells.wordpress.com Amy K. Sorrells

    As always, thank you for pointing out rookie blog mistakes to us “newbs” (as my sons would call me). Helps to have an agent that teaches me good manners. :)

    On another, semi-related note, I would encourage those writers building nonfiction platforms–as well as platforms related to a certain theme in their novels–to not be afraid to delve into sensitive subjects that help others know it’s okay to bring dark places into the light. For example, some folks might think I’m extreme for starting conversations on my blog about abuse recovery, but I’ve found those posts often receive the most traffic and thanks from readers with hurting hearts.

    My main weakness is I want to be just like katdish when I grow up. :)

    • http://katdish.net katdish

      You need to get over that, Amy. Do as I say, not as I do.

    • Rachelle Gardner

      Good point, Amy. Sometimes being a bit vulnerable is what really touches people’s hearts.

  • http://www.harrietparke.blogspot.com Harriet Parke

    Your advice is both inspirational and down-to-earth. Wow! The whole spectrum!
    Thanks.

  • Melinda

    I pretty much go by the street corner rule-of-thumb. If I wouldn’t be comfortable standing on a corner in Times Square and shouting whatever it is I’m about to share via online media, then I don’t write about it. After all, that’s really what the internet is. One giant street corner full of people. And dogs. And occasionally rats.

    • http://bookinamonthmom@blogspot.com Heather Gilbert

      LOVE this analogy! Our blogs are usually far more public than our Facebook accounts. But on both, we shouldn’t be blacklisting people (family members especially!).

      The difference is that on FB, I can let my friends/family know that I didn’t get this/that agent OR that the agent I had let me down, etc. The agent isn’t going to see it (because they don’t care anymore! Ha). But my friends/family ask and want to know. On the blog, I’d never post that, because agents will read it eventually.

  • http://diaryofabibliophile-jesilea.blogspot.com/ Jesilea

    There are some agents on twitter who love to complain or make fun out of the queries & submissions they receive. We are all in business together and need to act like professionals. I have unfollowed these people and will never submit anything to them. I realize this is an “agent’s market,” but if they keep behaving that way online, the number (and quality) of writers contacting them will start to dry up.

    Also, I really don’t want to hear details about your health problems. You have a cold, fine. But tweeting about your kidney stones is TMI.

    ~Jesilea

  • http://holdingoutforaherobooks.blogspot.com/ Jay

    I think authors need to remember when commenting on a review of another author’s book, to keep it positive. If you are saying negative things about someone else book it makes my less likely to read yours. I understand that you have the right not to like a book and express that. But express it in a manner that pertains to that book and not to the author personally such as their voice or writing style.

  • http://thoughtsthatmove.blogspot.com/ Wendy

    I’ve thought a lot about this topic. There is a specific post idea that’s been brewing in my mind for quite some time, but I’ve refrained from writing it because it involves a sensitive subject matter I know people feel passionate about (one way or the other). I haven’t grasped the best way to voice my thoughts on it so I’m waiting.
    Along these lines, I’m careful when it comes to blogging about anyone else’s vulnerabilities or struggles. I often like to joke with friends that they should come to my house (family of origin) for Thanksgiving dinner. There’s a little of everything and I’m not just talkin’ food.
    I can think of dozens of posts that would make intriguing fodder based on the lives of loved ones, but until and unless I have their permission, I don’t go there. I think that which holds true for memoir writing should be taken into account when we blog.
    ~ Wendy

  • http://www.danieford.com Danie Ford

    A very timely post. I was just discussing the facebook and twitter over sharing aspects with my writing group.

    There have been authors sharing political views that I do not agree with. Most I ignore because, to each his/her own. But when they get to be so extreme and harsh in wording then it makes me take notice and not in a good way.

    And I will say there is one author who is a known author, who I am no longer following or reading due to their views and how extreme and harsh they are.

    As authors, be it new, established, up and coming or aspiring, we struggle sometimes with what to post. At least I know I do. You want readers to come back to your blog and sites and establish a reader base. But it has to be balanced.

  • http://www.ciarcullen.com Ciar Cullen

    I moonlight as a small press editor. I recently saw an infuriating FB post by an author complaining about how she hated edits, hated the edits she just received, and was going to blow them off until she finished her Nano WIP. Huh? Can’t tell you how quickly I wrote her with a deadline for those edits. Don’t talk about your new work while someone is waiting for you to fulfill your contract obligations! Seems silly, but I see this a lot with new authors.

    • http://www.timothyfish.net Timothy Fish

      At the same time, I think we need to be careful about how we react as readers. When a person is facing disappointment, as every author does after receiving edits, we have to understand they need to blow off some steam. We shouldn’t take it personally.

  • http://brendahammond.ca Brenda Hammond

    Thanks for the reminder, Rachelle. I think the problem arises because it’s a one on one when we’re sitting in front of our computers… at least, that’s what it can feel like.

  • http://lindsayharrel.blogspot.com Lindsay Harrel

    Great advice, Rachelle. I’ll definitely keep these in mind as I continue my blogging venture…

  • http://tammydoherty.com Tammy Doherty

    I agree with the post and most of these comments – good manners should be the rule if you are in social media to advance your career (or hopeful career), no matter what business you are in. I don’t post something, anywhere, that I wouldn’t want my boss, my kids, my hubby, or my potential agent/editor to read.

    But whether you are blogging, Tweeting, or updating your status, good manners should apply even if you aren’t in it to advance your career. The other night, someone I know commented on another friend’s FB status that she had just farted. Yuck! No one needs to know that. These are the things you should keep to yourself, people :D Even adolescents know better than to bring bathroom/bodily function humor into the social scene!

    Judge Milian (People’s Court) frequently says, “Say it and forget it, Write it and regret it.” Keep that in mind whenever you post anything online, anywhere.

  • http://www.timothyfish.net Timothy Fish

    As a rule of thumb, I ask myself if someone would like to read what I’m writing. If the answer is yes, then I know that posting it is probably a bad idea.

  • http://www.romantic-heretic.com/Romantic_Heretic/Welcome.html Rob Graham

    Unfortunately, as I’ve found out to my chagrin, ‘extreme social or political positions’ is entirely a matter of perspective. What to me is simply a matter of observation is to others just a step away from treason.

    So I’ll continue stating my political and social beliefs. Self-censorship is still censorship. I hold freedom of speech too dear to sacrifice it for my career.

    • http://www.timothyfish.net Timothy Fish

      To me, the important thing is how you state your beliefs, not whether you state your beliefs.

    • Rachelle Gardner

      Rob, as long as it fits your own style and your goals, I agree this is your personal choice. It’s especially appropriate if that’s how you normally blog.

      I caution writers who don’t normally blog their political or social views to think carefully before suddenly posting something out of the blue in which they strongly advocate a certain view. For example, people would think it strange and probably off-putting if I suddenly had a blog post espousing my opinions on a political topic. That’s not what they come to my blog for, and it would shock them.

      • http://jilldomschot.blogspot.com Jill

        I would have to agree with this. It’s a matter of context. I don’t mind reading political updates on Twitter, and I love political opinion pieces–I wouldn’t mind if you (Rachelle) suddenly posted a political piece. But it would seem really weird, given your usual paradigm–unless it somehow fit in the context of publishing or perhaps was guest-posted by one of your nonfiction authors. Context makes all the difference as far as political and social viewpoints go. I mean, look at some of your authors and their popular and controversial blogs (Rachel Held Evans, Mike Duran).

  • http://www.ciarcullen.com Ciar Cullen

    It just occurred to me that I probably shouldn’t have posted what I did! Haha! So it goes for commenting as well. Chagrin, I own it.

    • http://www.kevad.net/ DA Kentner

      Actually, I agreed with the intent of your post. Social sites are not the place to vent about agents, editors and publishers, and especially about readers. Once a writer decides to become published, writing becomes a business, and a level of professionalism is expected. Publicly decrying an agent, editor, and/or publisher isn’t professional. Moaning about readers is suicidal.

      • http://ibischild.blogspot.com marion

        I agree. Ciar, your editorial response to the blog post was rational and professional. Your discussion of that post in this forum gives us all a heads up. You haven’t said anything inappropriate.

        I suppose the writer of the FB post is having a hard time dealing with the stress of this stage of the process, but she made a mistake sharing it in this manner on her blog. (Note to self!)

  • http://www.authorcynthiaherron.com Cynthia Herron

    Thanks, Rachelle, for the reminders!

    So many times family members and friends will ask in a public forum (FB, etc.) what the status of a project is. Without offending, I try to be as politely vague as possible. It’s difficult to explain contractual no-nos to some, but most are understanding.

  • Larry Carney

    I agree with others that overall you have made rational, reasonable, and common sense points Rachelle, but what I disagree with is how this blog post, viewed in conjunction with other industry blogs about the expected standards and practices of the writing community, seems a bit contradictory and muzzling.

    For example, we writers are constantly told how important our social media platform is: yet it is also clear that it is increasingly difficult for new or even mid-list authors to gain an established virtual following (much less an unpublished author). Yet what seems to be the accepted standards and practices of the non-writer part of the industry is that writers should never put words to virtual paper anything which gets them excitable: thus resulting in a sea of indistinguishable, cookie-cutter blogs where the writing and the topics wallow in mediocrity (not to mention the page viewership numbers).

    These contradictory messages (to need a dedicated and vast virtual following yet don’t write anything which rocks the boat) has the effect of muzzling what we, as writers, are meant to do: to inform, engage, and at times challenge society and culture, to be the rock upon which democracy, art, entertainment and ideas are firmly built to withstand the storms of seasons and the primeval passions and ephemeral fantasies of our falliable and fallen species.

    • http://www.timothyfish.net Timothy Fish

      The best answer is probably that we should pick our fights. Every book must be somewhat controversial, or it will not sell. As authors, we need to stand firm behind that point of view. But there are other controversial topics that have nothing to do with our books. Those we can keep to ourselves.

  • Bret Draven

    The following should never, under any circumstances, be blogged about: Charlie Sheen, Snookie, Paris Hilton, Star Wars, The Muppets, Brett Favre, Michael Vick, Operation-Repo, Angelina Jolie, Lindsay Lohan (Oh, and Michael Lohan), Nick Lachey, Jesse James.

    • Rachelle Gardner

      I wholeheartedly agree!

  • http://awannabewriters.blogspot.com Alexa Muir

    These are excellent points, and I know when I blog I always consider “How will this appear to readers, colleagues or employers (potential and otherwise)”.

    However I actually think having a clear stand point on a political or social issue is a strength, as long as it’s backed up with evidence, you present your point of view clearly, and in a reasonably non-judgemental way. I’m happy to identify myself as a feminist, an atheist, and a realist with socialist leanings; anyone who would ignore, dislike or not work with me because of those things probably isn’t someone I want to associate with anyway. And as for readers, well, if they don’t like those things about me then they definitely wouldn’t like the stories I tell, as it all seeps through into my writing (often unintentionally).

    • http://www.timothyfish.net Timothy Fish

      You and I are about as opposite as we could be and were this a discussion about those things, you and I would be in disagreement, but I have more respect for you than I have for those who are so apathetic that they are unwilling to take a stand for the things they “believe”.

    • Rachelle Gardner

      Alexa, it sounds like you and I agree… that we all need to keep in mind the audience we’re trying to gather and the overall purpose of our blogging. You’re right, if you identify yourself honestly, you’ll gather an audience that’s right for you.

  • http://www.hypnoticdreams.com Hypnotic Dreams

    You can also add this to the list of things you shouldn’t blog about

    http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=428569235097&l=7d32eeb91c

  • http://deadfrogontheporch.com Jan Markley

    Good post. I’d add to be cautious about putting excerpts of a soon to be published novel on your blog without discussing it first with your publisher.

  • http://www.shannonlccate.com/ Shannon LC Cate

    It’s tricky (as many here have mentioned) to negotiate the line that defines “extreme” in political or social views. Lots of people think, for example that just being out as a lesbian is “extreme” whereas, for me, it is simply a mundane fact of my life. I’m certainly not going to closet myself online, (it’s far too late anyway) as the fact that I have a female spouse and two adopted children is a daily matter for conversation. Besides, there are queer themes and characters in my books.

    Likewise religion. Plenty of “religious” people don’t like the lesbian part of my life and plenty of queers don’t like the religious part. If that limits my audience, oh well. As for my political views, they are in my novels and my blog and my faith practices and my consumer choices and everything else. Prising them out would be impossible.

    But I also think there are ways to be open about these things that while they may not protect you from alienating some people, will make clear that you are a mature, respectful person who is capable of being disagreed with in a mature, respectful manner. In fact, disagreement can sometimes be a point of engagement and the beginning of friendship–it has been in my own experience, especially online, in fact.

    My own rule of thumb for what to blog or not blog (or put online in other ways) is to consider whether I would say it over a dinner table to every person I ever met or ever hope to meet (or, in this case, ever hope to sell my books to). If I can handle the imagined consequences, then it’s okay. If not, I shouldn’t ay it online or anywhere else.

    • Rachelle Gardner

      Shannon, I think your rule of thumb is perfect. As long as we’re okay with everyone knowing what we’ve written, and we can handle the consequences, we can write freely.

      I also love what you said: “there are ways to be open about these things that while they may not protect you from alienating some people, will make clear that you are a mature, respectful person who is capable of being disagreed with in a mature, respectful manner.”

      Absolutely.

  • http://www.sarahsundin.com Sarah Sundin

    Great advice, Rachelle!

    Before I post ANYthing on social media, I run it past a mental filter – how would my husband, mother, children, pastor, agent, editor, most avid reader, or non-Christian best friend from high school perceive this? And these people are all on my Facebook friends’ list! I strongly protect my family and only post positives about them, or something funny that I’ve run past them beforehand.

    And yes, please. No gory health details. Please.

  • http://www.cannotbeshaken.blogspot.com Karen Barnett

    I’m constantly second-guessing my posts, so this is a great help. I feel torn because we are encouraged to talk about our careers and yet there’s so much we can’t say. I’d love to hear more of the inside story about contract negotiations from published authors, but I guess that’s just wishful thinking.

    What I dislike is when writers post quotes from negative reviews or letters that they have received–and then go on to dispute the comments. This always strikes me as sour grapes, even if they are right. I’m not sure if there’s an offical channel for challenging negative reviews, but I don’t think blogs/facebook is the place to deal with those frustrations and hurts.

  • http://davidatodd.com David Todd

    I don’t understand the aversion to writing honest reviews about published works we don’t like. I’ve reviewed about 20 books on my blog, and two of those were absolute pans and two others don’t-read recommendations. But they were focused on the book, not the writer. As a reader I appreciate negative reviews, as it helps me steer clear of those I wouldn’t want to invest money in. For each book I review I indicate if I will keep it in my library or pass it on, and if I can recommend it to the blog reader. If I don’t like a book I give specifics why, maybe even with a short quote. As a reader I appreciate those kind of reviews. As a writer of reviews, how can I do anything less?

    • http://www.timothyfish.net Timothy Fish

      David,

      The problem I see is that we risk alienating the readers we are trying to win over. To give an example, I know that there is overlap between the people who enjoyed Redeeming Love and the people who would enjoy reading For the Love of a Devil. How much overlap, I don’t know, but there is overlap because they are both inspired by the story of Hosea. The other day, I mentioned Redeeming Love in a blog comment. I didn’t say anything bad about it, but fell short of saying, “This is the best book ever.” Well, someone who is of the opinion that Redeeming Love is the best book ever took offense. So now, if I were to go to that person and say, “You should read For the Love of a Devil“, I’ve already alienated that person and it appears that I’m saying that For the Love of a Devil is better than Redeeming Love. That is dangerous territory to be in when you are talking to people who believe no book is better than Redeeming Love. Who knows, the woman who took offense might have been interested, had she not thought I was putting her favorite book down, but now she’s unlikely to agree with my opinion concerning books.

      • http://davidatodd.com David Todd

        Timothy:

        Well, then, don’t we run the same risk when we give a book praise? If I were to say I loved Robert Frost’s Complete Poems, I’m sure to have someone angry with me, someone who thinks Frost was a horrible poet. If I praise one of John Wesley’s works, will I lose the entire 8 million members (or however many there are) of the SBC? That means it would be better to never write a book review at all. Or not write anything except about the weather and my health.

        Do me a favor, if you have time: Check out any or all of these negative book reviews I did and let me know if you think I lost potential readers for my works.
        http://davidatodd.blogspot.com/2008/01/book-review-natural-curese-they-dont.html
        http://davidatodd.blogspot.com/2011/08/book-review-savage-nation.html
        http://davidatodd.blogspot.com/2011/08/i-dont-get-literary-criticism.html

        Sorry, but I’m too much of a luddite to make them hot links. I understand if because of time or convenience you don’t follow the URLs.

        • http://www.timothyfish.net Timothy Fish

          David, the difference is that when you praise a book, the people who also like the book will see you as a kindrid spirit and may take an interest in your book as well. The people who might be offended by the praise you offer aren’t interested in reading your writing anyway. I suppose might argue the same is true of those who would be offended by you making a negative review, but as Jesus said, “for with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged.” Praising another’s work may not result in our own work being praised, but it will certainly not bring judgment on it. Criticism of another’s work won’t bring praise, but it may bring criticism.

  • http://mysteryrobin.blogspot.com Robin Lemke

    So, I know that typically you want to keep activism and strong opinions off your blog so you don’t offend potential readers. But, I have a specific question – I’m getting ready to shop a manuscript that hinges on pit bull dogs and breed discrimination. I love these dogs, and do sometimes post about their many wonderful qualities and why breed bans don’t work.
    Do you think that crosses over into the “don’t get political” place?

    • Rachelle Gardner

      Robin, I don’t think those posts cross the line. They’re probably helping to identify your audience. Keep in mind that you’re highly unlikely to change anyone’s mind about pit bulls – you’ll most likely be writing for those who already know pit bulls aren’t necessarily as “dangerous” as people think they are, or those who don’t have an opinion on the subject.

  • Janet

    I have personally nearly gnawed my fingers off in an attempt NOT to respond to tweets by political activists whose extreme views I do not share.

    Something else I learned the hard way: When you’re doing those #FF, #MM, etc. mentions of your followers, be selective about which “tweeps” you include in the same tweet. I inadvertantly insulted one of my most loyal and supportive followers by doing an @ mention of him and another person whose tweets he finds offensive in the same tweet. He was kind enough to DM me and ask me to avoid that combination in the future, explaining why, and my gaffe did not do any permanent damage to our relationship. Some might not be so understanding.

  • Janet

    Oh…and another thought: Please, please, please tweet/blog/post something interesting or helpful every now and then. I get so tired of some authors who never tweet/blog/post about anything but “buy my book.” About once a month, I go through and stop following anybody who only uses social networking media for hard sell.

    To me, the word “social” should indicate that it is intended to help people connect and develop relationships. “Networking” should indicate that it is intended to help people connect with others who can MUTUALLY benefit from developing business relationships.

    • http://www.facebook.com/pages/P-J-Casselman/176559919090167 P. J. Casselman

      Good point, Janet. Oh by the way, go buy my book please. LOL :-D

    • http://www.timothyfish.net Timothy Fish

      This is so much easier said than done. If we never mention our book, then people won’t know about it and won’t buy it. If we mention our book too much, then people think that all we’re trying to do is get their money. A few years ago, I mentioned one of my books on a website. It made one guy angry and he was quite vocal about it. But there was women on the same site who not only bought the book but wrote to say how much she had enjoyed it.

      • Janet

        Timothy,

        You might note that I didn’t say you should NEVER mention your book, or where it can be purchased. My point was that should be something that can be mentioned in blogs, but not the primary topic. There should be plenty of interesting topics developed during research that are related to the book, but not contained in it. By using tangental information as the basis for the blogs, the author gives something to the community of readers and is justified in providing (usually in the bio blurb) the title of the book and where it can be purchased.

        I will not follow the blog of an author whose topic reeks of “why you must by my book” or “why you must follow me and buy my book.” There is too much interesting information out there for me to waste my time on a blog that’s nothing but repetitive sales pitches.

    • http://amberdine.com Laurel Amberdine

      YES.

      I was just going to say this. I only start reading blogs/feeds of people I find interesting, and it’s obvious when they suddenly turn into boring self-promotion machines as soon as they’ve got something to promote.

      If you can’t be interesting on your own blog, you’re not convincing me that the book will be very good!

  • http://inkandangst.com/ Pamela K. Witte

    This is a very helpful, important, valuable information for ALL writers. I see some folks making these very mistakes and I cringe. I want every writer to have the best chance of landing an agent and publishing books. If we’re participating in Social Media we need to be educated and act savvy!

    Thanks for sharing! I’ll be tweeting and facebooking!

  • http://fghart.com Fran

    Great advice, Rachelle. These words of wisdom are valid for anyone in any field. I try to keep in mind that God is following me on Facebook and Twitter, and is a regular reader of my blog.

    I’m not yet to a point where my novel is under consideration with a publisher, but as an employer and employee, everything I post must be censored according to good judgment, just as you described.

    • http://www.timothyfish.net Timothy Fish

      I’ve never received a friend request from God, but I have had a few churches follow me.

  • http://crediblecopywriting.net Francesca

    Great tips! I belive the “no-no” things to talk about on first dates, also apply to topics to steer clear from when typing up a blog post.

  • http://www.thehahnhuntinglodge.com Nikole Hahn

    Thanks for the reminder!

  • http://deborahserravalle.wordpress.com Deborah Serravalle

    Wow! What a discussion. What I draw from it is this: Think before thou posts. Don’t back down from taking a stand BUT pick the battles that may result. And, watch how you phrase your opinions – no need to alienate someone needlessly.

    FYI – I appreciated all the comments but Timothy Fish went the extra mile. Thanks.

    I’m sure I’ll hear Rachelle’s and Timothy’s words challenging me to consider carefully my next controversial post…

  • http://ninadangelo.blogspot.com Nina

    I really enjoyed this topic and it boggles my mind that any writer would think about discussing such taboo topics such as their publishing shopping around, advances or anything monetary.

    I have to admit, I am guilty of writing long blog pieces, but that is the style of writer I am. I’ve cut down though.

    Your blog entries are always fascinating.

  • Mary Jo

    I agree about not blogging about your political and social beliefs–unless, of course, that is what your blog is about. I get very tempted to write something in the comments, but instead sometimes I just decide not to read the blog anymore. It just upsets me too much…which I’m sure isn’t what the bloggers are aiming to do (ie, alienate their potential readers).

  • http://byline.peterdehaan.name/ Peter DeHaan

    When composing an email, I try to write in such a way that if it was mis-routed (I’ve done that) or forwarded to some who I didn’t intend to see it (I’ve had that done to me), that I would have nothing to be embarrassed about.

    I try to apply the same care to my blogging and tweeting, assuming that anyone could read my post.

  • http://neelthemuse.wordpress.com/ Neelima

    I was extremely reluctant to start blogging in the first place….but as far as poetry is concerned, blogging seems to be a better way of canvassing yourself.

    Thank you for the useful post. One must be careful with words on cyberspace and off it!

  • Pingback: What NOT to Blog About | The Passive Voice()

  • http://www.girlwithanewlife.com (FL) Girl with a New Life

    Phew. (Sigh of relief.) I passed. Proverbial foot not yet in mouth.

    This was a good reminder.

  • http://www.karenranney.com Karen Ranney

    Politics – in any form. You have a 50% chance of offending someone. And that goes for Tweeting, too.

  • http://chickchaotic.wordpress.com/ Elizabeth Chapin

    I know two people who blogged something they shouldn’t and lost potential publishing opportunities. This is a good word, thanks for the advice. This kind of specific advice and discussion helps calm my fears. After hearing others stories I was afraid to blog for a while, fearing that I might blog something I would later regret!

  • http://www.yourvervemagazineonline.info PL Jones

    The more honest and interactive the blog, the more likely I am to read it.

    But I agree that just because someone’s POV/rant is interesting doesn’t mean that sharing it with the entire world won’t hurt them in the long run.

    On the other hand, it takes courage to, while fully aware of the consequences, honestly express what you feel and experience.

    So, I confess …I don’t mind reading a well written rant every now and then! : )

  • http://www.catherinegrant.webs.com Catherine

    I really hate it when authors I love get vocal about politics, or more specifically, are arrogant or overly opinionated about issues and I flat out think they’re wrong on. I actually stopped following one author’s blog and really don’t care to read any more of their material because she was just so arrogant about her political views that I thought to myself “Do I really want to support this person?” It’s a huge turn off as a reader, and although I’m not at all advocating censorship, I wish authors (or even actors, for that matter) would just keep it to themselves most of the time. If someone is really passionate about an issue, speak out about it, be opinionated (lord knows I am) but don’t make it a permanent fixture of your blog.

    Great advice.

    -Catherine.

  • Pingback: Why I Turned Down a Book Deal (And the Lessons I Learned), Part 3()

  • http://www.janmorrill.com Jan Morrill

    Excellent information. I was relieved to see I’ve already avoided MOST of these topics, but aghast to see I had one faux pas, which I quickly corrected. Thanks, Rachelle!

  • http://www.junebourgoauthor.com June Bourgo

    Great post, Rachelle. As a writer,I agree completely that we should avoid judging other bloggers and writer’s opinions. I write to share the lessons I learn in an entertaining way. How the reader perceives this is entirely up to them. I like to get them thinking, but I’m not trying to convert them.

    I also agree about keeping things private about contracts and relationships with other people in the writing field. My blog is about my aspirations to be a novelist, so I have shared my “feelings” about something that has happened but always in a respectful way. One of my blog’s was about my publisher’s belief that we change the name of the book. It was a difficult and emotional decision for me and I shared that on my blog but I also presented that I respected my publisher’s opinion and in the end, we changed it and I am so happy we did.

    And, I agree that people want to read the truth, but not negativity. I stay away from religion and politics on my blog because I don’t think the purpose of my blog is a forum for this. What goes around comes around.Positive breeds positive, and that’s where I want to sit.

  • http://Katherine.e.hinkson.com Katherine Hinkson

    Very good advice. Once it’s out there you can not get it back. Grandma E would say if you don’t have something nice to say about someone (other bloggers/publishers/editors) than don’t say anything. She meant politeness and being nice goes a long way.

  • Ti

    I don’t understand the taboo against money talk (advances, royalties, etc). Obviously, if it violates the contract, discussing it is a no-no. But why the taboo? Why don’t more authors insist on being allowed to share that information? Is it simply a losing battle? One of those situations where one party holds all the power, despite the pretense of a fair contract?

    It seems to me that only the publishers can benefit from such a blackout. If authors could communicate with each other about how much they were making, they might actually be able to exert pressure on the publishers to pay them more. Unpublished authors could acquire a better understanding of what to expect going into the business. How is an agent supposed to get an author the best deal when the agent herself doesn’t know what’s possible? What if an author lands an agent who consistently under-sells compared to the competition?

    I think this is just one of the many areas in which transparency in business (especially one as large as the publishing industry) is crucial to a fair and just society. How much an author makes is the author’s business, not the publisher’s.

    Also, what is meant by, “Any of the following are typically off-limits for discussion (public or otherwise)”? There’s no way I’m going to sign a contract without discussing it “non-publicly” with my immediate family. I mean, it’s not like it’s going to be a secret once the bank statements show up. Duh?

    • JR

      Ti – You seem to be incomprehensibly naive. Of course the person who will take your product, whatever it is, and sell it for you holds the “power.”

      Too, it is not helpful in offices, for example, if people know each other’s salaries – that can’t be used as a bargaining tool. it only breeds contempt and ulcers.

      • Ti

        I understand that there are power differentials at play. What I don’t understand is why I’m the only one complaining about them.

        Also, I’d expect knowledge of co-workers’ salaries would make a great bargaining tool. Isn’t that how unions work? If some people are being over-compensated or under-compensated, I believe contempt to be a legitimate response. But everyone acts like it’s “rude” to discuss how much money you make. I consider it a matter of worker’s rights. And transparency.

  • Another emerging writer

    You cover some of the topics I have been grappling with. The problem with the decision not to share “extreme” opinions if you are in the U.S. (as I am) is this place is going so totally right-wing some act like speaking up to protect birth control access is “extreme.” I lean toward expressing some of my opinions as I don’t think the very right wing types truly read much. They may BUY the books if you are a popular writer (which does put money in your pocket) but I doubt they actually read them. Do I actually want people who oppose birth control rights to have my books? Probably not is my leaning. I would tend to be like the great old artist who would take her stuff back from the undeserving. Thanks for the thoughts.

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