Everybody Reads Your Blog. Yes, Really.

| Monday, September 12, 2011
Today's Tune: You Don't Know Me

This morning's post comes from the "Things That Make You Go Duh" files.

Your blog is public, and it can and probably will be read by publishing professionals and/or other authors.


Everyone posts about this topic, but aspiring authors still seem to let it skip their mind. I suppose, in a sense, this is understandable. When our tiny little blog has a few dozen followers and gets maybe five comments a week, it can be difficult to imagine that anyone "important" is reading. But they are. Especially if you mention them by name.

I know it doesn't seem like anyone's reading, but comments and follower counts are no indication of who's actually stumbling onto your little corner of the Internet. Literary agents, editors, and published authors can and do surf aspiring author blogs. Some of them (rarely, but it happens) will even go so far as to contact the author if they like what they see. Not in the sense of, "Hey, I love your blog, can I represent you?" But more like, "Hey, you have a great blog and I really enjoyed your writing samples. I see that you're working on a novel project. I'd love to see pages when it's complete."

On the other hand, if they come across your blog and discover a lot of negative name drops and sourpuss angsting, at best they'll move on and never look back. At worst, they'll make a note of who you are in case your name ever crosses their virtual desk.

Here's the thing: these agents and authors are usually pretty Internet savvy. Many of them use Google Alerts for their names, their agencies, and their titles. Which means if you say something crappy about any of those things, they will know. And they will take note.

It's very easy to get personal on a blog or assume that if no one comments, it means no one reads. As an Internet marketer, I can pretty effectively tell you, "nope." The vast majority of blog readers are lurkers -- or people who read, but don't comment. Comments are a big deal, but they're no indication of how many people are actually reading.

Before this edges dangerously close to "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all" territory, I'll say here that I absolutely do not think people have to be happy-bunny-sunshine-lollipops all the time, or that they can never post a less-than-glowing review or blog about their frustrations with publishing. No no no. I think such posts are honest, balanced, and healthy. Everyone's blogging style is entirely up to them.

What I'm saying is: be smart. Remember that this is your public persona, and people WILL see it. If you had a scuffle with a particular literary agent, don't name them. If you think X Agency are a lot of horrible meanie heads, don't name them. If you hated Book Y with such a fiery passion that it makes you feel like your ears will bleed if you talk about it, don't talk about it. Fair, balanced, and professional behavior is always okay, even if it isn't always positive. Pitching a hissy or being snide about another person for laughs? Well, that's your call, but you should know it can bite you.

There are some things that are great to blog about, and some things that are great to vent about over drinks with your writer friends. Make sure you know the difference.

20 comments:

{ Claire Lachance } at: September 12, 2011 at 5:39 AM said...

I wish an agent would come across my blog. Or maybe not, LOL.

{ Steph Sinkhorn } at: September 12, 2011 at 8:23 AM said...

Be careful what you wish for, haha ;)

{ Lindsay N. Currie } at: September 12, 2011 at 8:27 AM said...

Love this post. Especially the ears bleeding part - I laughed so hard I almost choked on my coffee LOL. In all seriousness though, great points for all of us to remember!

{ Margo Lerwill } at: September 12, 2011 at 9:43 AM said...

Too true. And probably one of the best reasons for me to stop blogging. :)

{ Hektor Karl } at: September 12, 2011 at 9:50 AM said...

I had a post with a one sentence throwaway-line complaint about Comcast in it. I got contacted by a customer service rep within like 30 mins...

{ Emily White } at: September 12, 2011 at 10:03 AM said...

Completely true! I was discovered by my publishing company because my editor visited my blog and contacted me about the book I was self-publishing.

Who knows how many other professionals visit our blogs from time to time? It's definitely best to think before you post. And especially considering we have the opportunity to come to our senses before hitting "publish," we have no excuses for meanie posts that drop names.

Great post, Steph!

{ kirstenlopresti } at: September 12, 2011 at 10:17 AM said...

Great reminder! You never know who is reading.

{ Alex J. Cavanaugh } at: September 12, 2011 at 10:18 AM said...

Well said! You never know who is reading...

{ Shari } at: September 12, 2011 at 10:32 AM said...

I so agree! Be smart.

{ Charlotte } at: September 12, 2011 at 11:02 AM said...

Hi, that was a really useful post, but now I'm slightly worried about my own blog. I was wondering if maybe you could take a look and let me know if I've crossed any lines? If so, that would be really, really appreciated! If not, don't worry about it! And thanks for this post all the same.:)

{ Jennifer Groepl } at: September 12, 2011 at 11:06 AM said...

Yes, the Internet is a great place for big fat public mistakes, isn't it? :)

{ Isis Rushdan } at: September 12, 2011 at 11:52 AM said...

What a great reminder!!!

{ Old Kitty } at: September 12, 2011 at 12:06 PM said...

Wise words! And if you really must vent, use your privacy settings! I'm trying to remember this blogger last year who not only named the agents who turned her down but scanned in their rejection letters in full then proceeded to be personal-nasty about them. I mean really nasty - so much so that her posts went viral before she deleted them. Dear oh dear.

Take care
x

{ Christy Farmer } at: September 12, 2011 at 12:07 PM said...

I agree wholeheartedly Steph. A big part of blogging is knowing how to a) remain a pro and b)knowing when to be above it. Great Post! :-)

{ Brenda Sills } at: September 12, 2011 at 2:44 PM said...

Hi Steph! Great to be reminded - when we're in the middle of life, and blogging, and writing, we just might get a little foggy. Love the funny stuff!

I'm a fellow campaigner - I'm not in your groups, but I wanted the fun of getting to know more writers. It's great to meet you! It made me laugh when you said you answered to "hey dudette" - I'm picturing it now. HeHe!

{ Jessica Love } at: September 12, 2011 at 3:37 PM said...

So true! I learned this this hard way with a former blog of mine.

{ Ruth Josse } at: September 13, 2011 at 2:36 PM said...

Oh boy. Scary. And something I haven't really thought about. I'll just remember to be a good girl. No burning bridges!

{ Steph Sinkhorn } at: September 13, 2011 at 2:59 PM said...

I'm sure nobody here has anything to worry about! I definitely wasn't trying to scare anyone, and people should feel free to be honest and have fun on their blogs. It's just something that's really important to think about. Blogs are for reading, and they get read.

{ Chantele Sedgwick } at: September 13, 2011 at 6:29 PM said...

Love Love LOVE this post. I totally agree. I think you can be yourself on your blog without pointing fingers and calling certain agents/editors "horrible meanie heads". ;) That's what real life friends and family are for. They listen to your venting. Not total strangers. I think posting about struggles and feelings are different than calling someone specific out and saying how crappy their writing is. You know what I mean? Even if I absolutely hate a book I never name the book or the author on my blog. You never know who is reading. Great post. :)

{ Lisa Potts } at: September 13, 2011 at 7:26 PM said...

Awesome advice as usual. I always cringe when I stumble on a blog post where the author is responding to some criticism of their work. Even with tons of explanation and the best of intentions, I've never read one that came off making the author look good.

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