Business: Thou Shalt Button Your Lip

Hi, y’all! As per our new schedule, each of the Merry Sisters will be tackling a different subject on our extra non-fiction days, Tuesdays & Thursdays. You can find the planned topics under our user info, or you can enjoy the almost indescribable thrill of not knowing what we’re going to write about next.


Today, I’m supposed to post about something related to writing business, which I guess makes sense as I’ve been full-time since this May. After thinking over the usual suspects, I decided to post upon the unsung wisdom of shutting thy trap. The opposite condition, flapping thy jaw, is something that seems to be somewhat endemic in the unpublished writing world, and every time I see it in its unchecked glory, I cringe a little inside.

Here’s the skinny, basically. If you imagine yourself ever being a published author, ever, write every single post on your blog as if your dream editor is reading it right after you post it. And his/ her desire to say "yes ohmigod yes!" or "ummmm . . . yeah . . . how ’bout nooo" to your novel is entirely based upon that post.

Now, I’m not saying all aspiring authors should strike down all frivolous posts in their infancy. Or that your LJ should be sanitized to the point of personality-death. I’m just sayin’, those posts where you say that you’ve been rejected by 42 editors but you’re still going strong? The ones where you rip and tear other authors into tiny, but hiliarious shreds? The ones where you say you’re a terrible person and nobody will ever be your friend ever again? The ones where you say that you stayed up late last night having a threesome with your next door neighbor and the Stay Puff Marshmallow Man?

Maybe think about keeping those f-locked. Editors do want to know the real you, but they don’t want to know everything. They want to know you’re going to project a cheerful, professional face to the world if they sign you, and they want to know that you’ll be fun to work with. Because believe me, editors are reading. The weeks before I got my deal with Scholastic, I got literally hundreds of hits from folks in New York from all the publishing companies in the auction for SHIVER. Spending hours on my website and my blog. I was an investment — do you blame them? And now, I get hits from across the world as the foreign rights are considered, and my publicist at Flux will occasionally mention something that I’ve said on my blog recently.

Not to sound like a paranoid guy out in Arizona watching the sky for blue dots, but they are watching you.

So share those pumpkin pie recipes. Share those stories of standing in line at the post office. But don’t share the stories about binging on pumpkin pie after standing in line at the post office to pick up your latest rejection. Save the career suicide for folks like Lindsay Lohan, k?

Thus concludes my post on business for this week. Have fun, and shut up. 🙂

20 thoughts on “Business: Thou Shalt Button Your Lip

  1. There is something that I’ve wondered about on this. I am fairly open online about being pagan, though I don’t mention it where employers can hear me because I’m in a conservative industry. A lot of the stuff on my blog is stuff about faith and spirituality, specifically pagan faith and spirituality. Do you think they would care, as long as it’s not, “OK, so last night I sacrificed a fat baby to influence editors to read my book and like it,” or “Well, there I was, showing up late to the orgy at the pagan festival and I forgot to bring my goat leggings,” or angry political screed about how much Teh Christers Oppress Us OMG!” (*Badger hate hate hates the word ‘Christers’ and threatens stabby death on those who use it in conversation with her…*)? I can’t imagine that ‘is a witch’ is the sort of thing that would keep people from reading what I’d written, so long as it wasn’t ‘is the crazy sort of witch’.

  2. I second this.

    I think that it’s incredibly important not to badmouth people — especially industry people — just to be mean/funny, I think one should try to write with class. Never say anything about anyone that one would not say to that person’s face, in exactly that way. Discussion is fine, criticism is fine, ragging on someone or just being tasteless is not.

    One absolutely SHOULD strive to maintain some sense of the personal, some sense of self, in a blog — if one is inclined to be personal at all, which not everyone is.

    I am and always have been profoundly personal in my writing and that’s . . . sort of what landed me my gig at Weird Tales. My editor found me through LJ, and if I’d been too sanitized, I would not have been asked to write for them.

    It was, to be specific, my posts about my diagnosis as bipolar, and my breakdown, that got him to ask me to write a piece for them, and after that, I got taken on as a regular writer.

    You absolutely must assume that the person who would want to publish your novel is reading everything you write, and make sure that what you write reflects the face you want to put forward to potential employers.

  3. This is such a tough one. I know I’ve cautioned a few people not to openly discuss rejections on their blogs and they were all “No! I’m showing the world that it’s not easy for a real writer by cataloging and publicly showing how human I am!”

    No, that’s not what the Publishing World (TM) is thinking when they see your blog. They see “Author was rejected by 92 agents and 4 editors” and can’t get away fast enough. You can share heartwarming stories about how many times you were rejected AFTER you hit the NYT. Yanno? 🙂

  4. LOL. Nope, I think your instincts are right on this one. Being pagan is your business, and yeah, as long as the baby-sacrificing is kept to a minimum, why should they care? I think that the rules of a blog are sort of the same as a dinner party — don’t talk about religion, politics, or sex any more than you would there. So people CAN find out I’m Catholic and I’ll talk to going to Mass sometimes, but you won’t find me waxing too poetic on it in public posts.

  5. That last line in particular — yes. My humor is sometimes irreverent, but it’s always, always consistent and always ME. And always appropriate to the market to which I’m aiming. So, no f bombs, in my case.

  6. YES!

    I always say it’s sexy for the rags to riches tale AFTER the riches appear. It’s sexy to say you were rejected 92 times . . . after you’re successful. Before that, you kinda look . . . rejected.

  7. Thanks for blogging this–it’s definitely wise. I don’t always think like this, esp. didn’t in the very beginning, but this is a great reminder!

  8. I think that the rules of a blog are sort of the same as a dinner party — don’t talk about religion, politics, or sex any more than you would there.

    This is an excellent rule. And thinking over my blog, something that I think I stick to. Which means there’s no sex, minimal religion, and politics *everywhere* (but I hope always, erm, tastefully).

    This topic in general crossed my mind earlier this week when I was recommending Dreams from My Father, and last month when I was posting about working the election – I decided, “Just write it elegantly and passionately, and put it out there. Be honest, be kind – you don’t want to work with anyone who doesn’t at least respect your political leanings anyway.”

    Otoh, I can’t help making fun of really bad movies. No matter how hard I try to convince myself I shouldn’t. 😉

  9. 🙂 Hey, this is the voice of experience, well the experience of humiliation, anyway . . . I shoved my foot pretty far up there when I first started out.

  10. This is probably one reason why I’ll never be a professional writer…I enjoy my blog too much!


    Oh! Guess what came in the mail for me late yesterday afternoon? If you guessed two copies of LAMENT, you’d be correct! I plan on curling up with my copy this evening. If you get a chance to drop those bookplates in the mail sometime, I can get the other copy delivered to my high school. No rush, just a reminder, as I know you’ve been swamped.

  11. Oooh, I will! I’m sending out a bunch of bookplates this week so I will remember! I hope you like it . . .

  12. This is so, so true, and not just for the publishing industry. I’ve become crazy-aware of what I’m posting ever since two brothers I knew I had but never met found my blog. I’m all paranoid now about what kind of first impression I’ve given them without having ever met them!

  13. I finished Lament tonight. I really liked it and am looking forward to Ballad.
    Don’t want to post specifics as they may be spoilers, but very well done.
    I also liked Infinite Thread VERY WELL. Will read that again!

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