The Art of Oversharing

Hello my darlings!

Today I want to talk a little about talking.

I like talking.

BUT.

Isn’t there always a “but”…

Talking is great. Sharing is awesome. Oversharing is usually hilarious.

But sometimes oversharing can be a problem, especially when there is any kind of professional connection that can be made.

Let me explain.

Say you are a querying writer, and you just got the request from the dreamiest Dream Agent you ever dared to dream of. So you post on Twitter, Facebook, your blog, whatever about said agent requesting from you.

Here’s what can happen: Other agents with your material might see that and think, “Oh, well. They like that agent so much, I’m going to back out.”

I can see some of you shaking your heads thinking, “Pssh, no agents would look at my Twitter or blog, and they certainly wouldn’t back out over something like that.”

Except that they totally would.

I don’t ever feel qualified to talk about things I haven’t experienced because, well, who the fuck am I? But I do feel capable of sharing things that I’ve learned through what are usually embarrassing and OMFG-type situations.

When I was on the last leg of my querying journey last year, I was somehow handed seven simultaneous R&Rs. (Yes, seven. *shudder*) When one of those R&Rs came while I was working on the others, it was like, OMG THESE ARE THE BEST NOTES I HAVE EVER SEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEN and I knew I was smitten to all the heavens with this agent, forevermore, amen.

And I happened to be blogging about revisions at the time.

So I slipped in a tiny, little sentence about Dream Agent and their awesome notes.

A few days later, one of the agents with my MS wanted to chat on the phone. Do you know what that agent asked?

They asked if a specific agent, NOT THEM, was the Dream Agent.

Several points to note here: 1. HOLY SHIT AGENTS WERE READING MY BLOG. 2. HOLY SHIT HOW LONG HAD THEY BEEN READING MY BLOG? 3. HOLY SHIT I HAVE JUST RUINED MY CHANCES WITH THIS AGENT.

It was in that moment I discovered that multiple agents had subscribed to my blog and I’d had no idea. And they were checking out my Twitter.

This is not uncommon, guys. It is, in fact, VERY COMMON. If an agent is interested in you, they are absolutely going to Google your ass.

Did that agent back off because they knew I was smitten with another agent? Yeah, they totally did. They stayed in the mix, but they knew that if Dream Agent offered, I’d go with Dream Agent.

Luckily, Dream Agent loved me as much as I love her, and we are a happy pair. *waves hello to Sarah*

But what if Dream Agent hadn’t offered to me? I would have successfully run off agents with what I thought was an innocuous little comment about revision notes.

I spoke with several agents during my offer/acceptance period.

Damn near every one of them brought up agents they thought I was in love with and asked if I would choose those agents over the one I was talking to. And I did have a couple of agents actually say the words, “I know how much you love this agent and how much she loves you, so I am going to respectfully withdraw.”

Holy batballs, right?

I had no idea people were watching that closely. It seriously still boggles my mind.

This carries into areas outside of querying. That is super important to know.

Sometimes I will see authors who are agented and on submission with publishing houses and they will say things like, “Oh, got rejected by such and such from BadassPublishing today.”

I cringe when I see that, you guys. I CRINGE.

Or worse, when someone is rejected by an agent/editor/publisher and the author says something like, “What a stupid fuckall that jerk is.”

OMG. *falls over dead*

Think of it like this: If you were an editor and you were looking into an author you wanted to possibly buy a story from and you come across Tweets/blogs/forum posts smack talking other industry people, how would you feel?

Maybe you might think that sure, that industry person was a huge dick and you are the right fit.

OR, you might think this author is a persnickety douchewagon and pass without knowing more of the story because hey, who wants to take the risk of being publicly slammed?

Sure, there is middle ground, but as for me, I wouldn’t take the risk.

Here is what I have been told, direct from industry professionals: Submission is like Fight Club. Don’t talk about it. Just don’t.

Querying? It’s like Fight Club Light. You can say, “WOOHOO I GOT A REQUEST!” if you really feel like you need to. That’s fine to talk about.

Honestly, it would be better to take things into private messages with pals, but seriously, cheering about a request is fine.

Anything beyond that? Keep it off the open screen.

Seeing a bunch of Tweets/blogs/forum posts about all the times you were rejected doesn’t have a good effect when people are looking to see if they want to work with you. I don’t mean to evoke a “sloppy seconds” vibe here, but honestly, that can come across sometimes.

No one wants that as their first impression.

As with everything you post online, do it with the notion that everyone and their aunt is watching you. Would you want Dream Agent to see this while they are thinking of offering to you? Would you want an editor to read that Tweet and have that be the basis for their impression of you?

Don’t censor yourself because that isn’t what I am saying at all. If you are loud and sweary (ahem…) be loud and sweary. If you like to blow confetti cannons every hour on the hour? DO IT. (I encourage this.)

But if you are using social media for any kind of professional reason in tandem with your personal side, tread carefully, be smart, and think things through.

If I can save someone from the self-piddling horror of having to explain to an agent that well, your random comment about a Dream Agent was indeed not about them.

Seriously, guys. IT WAS TERRIFYING.

Be smarter than your Aunty Fizz, 😉

I hope you all are having fabulous weeks!

Until next time,

Peace, Love, and Confetti Cannons

20 Comments

  1. I couldn’t agree more. Though I tend to treat Querying itself much like Fight Club rather than Fight Club Lite. Querying is terrifying enough without adding my own layers of “OMG WHAT DID I SAY” stress on top.

  2. I try and not talk about rejections/requests at all online. I might say, “I got another request today” or once I said, “It’s Friday, must be rejection day.” But now I keep quiet about it. I know I have agents following me on Twitter and on Facebook and although I’d love any one of them to take me on, I don’t talk about my dream agent. IMHO my dream agent is the agent who gets my book (s) and gets me. Still waiting for that magical moment to happen. If and when it does, I will shout it out from the rooftops and on Twitter/FB and yes there will be confetti canons involved as well as lots and lots of gifs at the ready. Yeah, you totally know I’ve got some saved, right? LOL.

  3. Great post as always, Summer.

    I’m also addressing this element of the writerly world in my post this upcoming Saturday. If you’re cool with it, I’d love to pop in a link to this so folks can get easily check out multiple thoughts.

    And baby yeezus, 7 R&Rs at once would freak me out.

  4. Yikes! You have to be careful about anything you put out there, eh? At least it’s safe to spout off about cheese, unless your dream agent takes offence to the idea of cheese. Hm.

  5. This is wonderful advice and so glad someone is saying it! I really try to only post publicly that I’m currently querying. Nothing about requests/rejections. I save those for frantic emails to my CPs, haha.

  6. Anonymous For All the Above Reasons |

    Um yeah, but that GOES FOR AGENTS TOO! I once sent out a small batch of similar queries and some agent (that shall go nameless) posted a tweet slamming a very specific part of my query. Don’t know how many other agents on my list follow this particular, um *tries to be nice* insensitive agent but his indiscretion may very well have put me in an awkward position. So, y’all watch what you tweet.

  7. Great post. Now I’m replaying every tweet I ever wrote, lol. I make an effort to think before I tweet!

    Thanks,

    Maribeth

  8. Thank you for posting this. I just loved it and it is very sound advice.

  9. Sadly, all too true – and this is why being on sub is way less like a hilarious road trip with friends and more like a walk through a scary forest in the dark with only your keychain flashlight.

  10. I have to keep this in mind, should I want to go traditional in the future. I totally have the same WHY WOULD ANYONE CARE ABOUT MY BLOG? thing going on, so this gave me quite a bit to think about.

  11. It is one of my biggest aspirations to never make you do a *headdesk* or *facepalm*. Great post, Summer!

  12. awesome post, summer.

    the same goes for online rants about revisions and/or CPs. i once saw a writer slam her CP in a post because she was incensed by said CP’s notes on her manuscript. they began engaging in an open forum feud.

    bad news. especially because the writer in question was querying. i can’t imagine what agents would think if they googled her and saw that shit online.

    just don’t. in the immortal words of wil wheaton: don’t be a dick.

  13. Wowza. Note taken. As I’m eagerly awaiting my first round of agent *responses* I now vow to keep my mouth shut. I mean, my fingers still.

  14. I think it is so easy to forget that it’s an agent’s job to know about their prospective clients.

    Early on in my querying I had an agent google me (I could tell through my google analytics, the timing, the location, the search term, etc.). Let me tell you, there was some happy dancing involved! 🙂 Not only did he read my query and ask for a full MS, he googled me and hung out on my website for like three minutes!

    In all honestly, I still realize most agents probably don’t care much about what I’m tweeting or what short story I just published…but obviously I want to make a good impression on the the few who might! 🙂

  15. A fellow writer saved me from a twitter blunder when I accidentally tweeted what I intended as a direct message regarding how a writer liked her agent. I deleted within minutes (and of course, bought that writer’s book when it came out). Too much tech can lead to issues, ya’ll.

  16. What a great reminder. I’m always afraid to blog or tweet about the querying process because I know I occasionally err on the side of oversharing, and I am terrified of scaring someone away or being off-putting because of this. I’m sorry you had the experience we’re all now learning from, but thanks for sharing. And I’m glad you landed that dream agent! 🙂

  17. This leads me to a worry I always have about contests. To quote this article:
    “Seeing a bunch of Tweets/blogs/forum posts about all the times you were rejected doesn’t have a good effect when people are looking to see if they want to work with you.”
    Does the same not apply to contests? If I put my work out there on someone host’s blog and end up with very little agent interest, no agent interest, or just feedback telling me all the things I have to work on, wouldn’t that be a turn-off to agents down the road? If an agent googles me I’d like them to come up with a-mazing results, not examples of my work that other agents have passed on.

  18. Thanks for this gentle and hard love reminder! 🙂

  19. This was SUCH an entertaining read. I’m officially subscribing to your blog.

    And I completely agree with you. I was very hush hush during my querying process. Only afterwards did I blog/tweet/Facebook about the process of finding an agent. It took a LOT of restraint (it happened so fast and was very exciting), but aside from someone else congratulating me publicly on Twitter about getting my first full MS request, I didn’t let anything slip.

    Which leads to the point: be careful about who you discuss querying/submissions with privately, too. You never know who’s going to take to social media to brag for you because they’re so excited for you, they don’t even think twice about it (and have the best intentions).

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