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.