Thursday, May 28, 2009

What People Will Say on the Internet

Trolling blogs in the last few weeks I have been shocked by some of the posts.

Most of the blogs I follow these days are agent/editor blogs run by people in the industry of publishing. I'm interested in how the business works and whatever free insight I might gain from these folks who spend part of their business day sharing information with people who know little to nothing.

I'm not so very naive as to think there's nothing in it for them. Every aspiring author with any initiative is likely to stumble onto an agent blog that offers advice on how, when, and whom to query. And guess who they'll query first? The people they feel they have some connection with through a blog. Good agent bloggers are likely to get first shot at new, fresh authors just coming up. A blessing and a curse, I'm sure.

Nonetheless, other agents who DON'T blog are likely reading these posts as well. And editors and publishers. A few people post anonymously but many use something resembling a real name. The ones using their real names are most likely doing so in the hope that their name will be recognized when they send queries. The things they post, however, are equally memorable. If I were an agent I would remember particularly vitriolic observations about how agents, publishers, and the entire industry in general are abusing writers in every way and publish nothing but tripe designed to sell to the lowest common denominator. I might even remember the name of the poster if it were frequent or harsh enough.

At any rate, the authors of these blogs don't get paid any extra for their time, insight, or the questions they answer. And some of the questions seem way out of line. For example, if an agent offers free advice on how to evaluate a new agent and whether or not to consider signing with them, it seems over the top to ask the blogging agent for a list of new agents who might be good. You are essentially asking them to send you to their direct competition. I've been in sales for a long time. I never minded questions about my competitors and always did my best to answer honestly but it flew all over me if a customer asked me to recommend one. I would always direct them to the internet. I never felt obligated to make it easier for them to take their business elsewhere.

Some of the comments are just plain mean. They attack others who post on the blog with aspersions on their intellect, understanding of the industry, intentions, and personal preferences. I don't like mean people. They make me mad. And then there are the ones who get upset over things like a daily blog posting late. Seriously? Someone who is doing something not in their job description that makes my effort to learn about the industry easier posts their daily blog an hour or so later than usual and they get complaints? Because it's inconvenient to the work schedule of a blog follower?

Mostly these people are friendly, curious, and willing to learn or share what they know. But a few of them are way more unhinged than I am. I can't imagine they are serious about getting published. But if they are, karma is a bitch. And the internet is forever...


  1. Yeah, on the one hand I cringe when I see someone go over the top. But then I think that it's probably someone who's given the industry their best shot, and still can't crack in, and they're bitter about it. So, there's a modicrum of sympathy for them. But, not too much.

    And you know there's no talking to them. They're pissed and there's nothing anyone can do about it. All you can do is to delete the post like Bransford does.

    The wife had a breif foray into the recording industry, and she often talks about how vile and nasty it can get. I imagine there are elements of the writing industry that get just as seedy.

    Take care.

  2. Thanks, Fred!

    I know you're right. I still think it's stupid. And cowardly since they almost always post as "Anonymous". If someone is so convinced they are right they ought to own it.

  3. Laurel, you impress me because 1) you used vitriolic in a sentence and 2) because you make a lot of sense. If one is going to be petty and mean, don't have a written record of it. It WILL come back to haunt you. It is mighty hard to shred the evidence when we're talking the world wide web.
    I bite my tongue via the keys and make nice on my blog, except where my brother is concerned.

  4. How is Chris? And Stephanie? And your mom and dad? Catch me up!

  5. Oh, you make me cry! You remember my family?! Well, I blog about them from time to time. Look at my May 29th blog (Chris' birthday), and you'll find the comments as interesting, if not more so, than the blog itself.

    That picture of Chris in the monkey mask has my mom hiding her face from him. All that silliness happened the last time I was home. Good times!