Another week, another post! This week, let’s talk about some general rules of thumbs with engaging with agents (or editors) on social media. In general, it is always a good idea to remember that this is BUSINESS. I personally use Twitter, and Instagram, as my professional social media avenues, so it is an extension of my professional work.
Now for the Dos and Don’ts.
- Do remember that there is a person on the other end. One thing that drives me nuts about social media is that we have a tendency to forget there is a real person on the other end. This person has feelings, and a life separate from the digital world. So always be kind and professional when engaging with them. And I have a tendency to remember the names of the people who are always friendly on Twitter with me, as well as the ones who start becoming an issue.
- Don’t try to shame/guilt an agent or editor about a decision. This circulates back to point one and and to the general rule: this is a business and there is a person on the other end. Agents and editors do this for the love of books. And let me tell you, I was rather unprepared for the sheer volume of reading that arrived when I became an agent. Once a decision is made, I can’t be second-guessing myself. I’d never get anything done. I have to move forward. As an author, you have to remember that passes are not personal judgement and respect the decision the agent came to. You don’t have to like it (hell, I’ve been there, too), but don’t try to make me feel bad about it.
- Do remember that social media is a window. Remember that song “Anything you can do, I can do better”? Well think of it as “Anything you can see, I can see also.” If you handle yourself unprofessionally or are too personal, I can see it. Maybe this is just me being super private, but if you use a particular social media platform to engage with agents, consider what you are showing the world. They have the ability to see the “face” you are showing. This point will come into play in another DO comment.
- Don’t take it personally when an agent (or editor) doesn’t respond on certain platforms. So I know several people in the business who use different social media platforms differently. For me, Twitter is my professional platform. If you look through my tweets, you might have an understanding of who I am, but it is a cultivated image. Not to say it’s not accurate, but like a diamond, I am multifaceted (because I’m human). Instagram is my personal/professional hybrid social media. You’ll get more of glimpse into my life, but again, cultivated. Facebook is private. I keep it around to follow my international family, but it is not meant for professional interaction. So if I don’t respond on it, or delete a friend request, don’t take it personal and don’t push the issue. Follow one of my other platforms.
- Do remember that 140 characters is not enough to have a meaningful conversation, but is enough to be misunderstood. Remember that point of social media being a window? Well this point plays into that. 140 characters or really any social platform only gives you a glimpse into someone’s thoughts/ideas/life. It is a great way to be misunderstood. Hence, you won’t find me (though I can’t say for sure if I ever have) talking politics or religion or other sensitive subjects that I feel are better for person-to-person discussions. Things can be easily misunderstood (hey, we are all different so it only makes sense) when you only have a short snap shot.
- Do use me as a resource, but Don’t use me as a crutch to avoid doing the necessary work. I love when people want to pick my brain about publishing, or what I like. I’m a person (see the theme?). But don’t use my knowledge as an excuse to avoid doing the necessary research. There are certain things that only an agent or an editor can tell you, but there are also things that you can find out by going to a bookstore or knowing your market, or talking to other writers. Know when to ask and when to investigate.
- Don’t call me “sweetie/honey/babe”, etc. I’m a professional and calling me by any of these names is an automatic rejection. Period. It shows a lack of respect and why would I want to work with someone like that? This extends to any communication, be it social media or email.
Whew, that ended up being a whole lot longer than I thought. A good rule of thumb is to remember: be professional, and remember there is a person on the other end. I love being on Twitter and Instagram; they’re fun! But they can also be mishandled so it never hurts to have a refresher.