Thursday, January 26, 2012

Agent Tweets #5: Boredom and Bungling Blogs

Welcome to the 5th edition of Agent Tweets, a weekly post that highlights and responds to
 publication-centric comments from agents and editors, gleaned from Twitter.

FYI: I do not name agents and editors quoted in these posts. 
The quotes listed here are indicative of the spectrum, and 
just happen to be the most compellingly worded variations. 

Today's Agent Tweets: Blunt Honesty #2

The more you say your novel is like your life, the less excited I am. We aren't objective about our own lives

Why This Matters:I can totally see what someone might find this offensive, if it were embedded in a responding email or critique. We know the microcosm of our own lives. We are intricately acquainted with the miracles and pitfalls, large and small. Of course our own experiences are an enormous legacy in our own lives - we've lived through them.
     But think about it: an agent or editor owes you nothing in the way of compliments. You want them to like your work, even love it? You've got to sell it on its tangible allurements. Saying that it mirrors your own life - when they don't know you from Adam's housecat - isn't going to grab their attention, even if you have lived the most amazing incredible fantastic death-defying OMG-You-Won't-Believe-What-Happened love-conquers-all kind of life.
     Also, the original point still stands:  We are not objective about our own lives. We've lived it, so of course what we've been through matters most to us. We are essentially self-centered critters, after all.

What To Do: Look at your own work from an outsider's point of view, and write your hook and summary from there. Can't look at it from an outsider's POV? Get a literature-savvy friend to help. My writer's group is constantly doing rough-draft hook-and-summary blurbs for one another, so that the creator of the work can see what it is that draws a reader in. Using that as a springboard, you can then work on selling your work because it has x and y and z, and not because it's based on the All Fantabulous Me.

Authors, proofread your blogs. It looks suspicious (at best) when your sub is great & your blog is littered with errors.

Why This Matters: It is when we are in our "comfort zone" that we are most likely to let our guard down. Our spelling and grammar worsens. We become sloppier, lazier, more colloquial. Since our blogs are our "home" on the web, it's where we tend to kick our shoes off and kick back, so to speak. We take off the mask and show our true colors to those who dare to come find us at our home base.
     However: one of the main reasons for a writer to begin a blog - especially if they intend to showcase their work - is to set up an internet presence. It is a presence, moreover, that most agents or publishers will expect, or at least ask about, when you finally make it into that Inner Circle of Consideration. When that happens, the blog becomes part of your resume.
     Of course you still want to be "the real you" on your blog. Who doesn't? Freshness and realism is a large part of the appeal of having a blog, especially if you intend to establish a professional reputation through your writing. But think of it this way: If you go in for a job interview, wouldn't you want to know whether your pants were unzipped, or your blouse was misbuttoned, or you had ickiness hanging out of your nose?
     You would never want to show up to an interview that way. Even if it's for the initiation into a ninja-nun-biker-gang. I don't care how casual, formal, freaky or docile the dress code is - you'd still stop in the bathroom on the way to the interview and check to make sure everything is zipped, hooked, buttoned, wiped, aligned, or artfully askew in the right gangsta way before you walked in for your interview (or initiation/hazing ordeal). 

What To Do: Check the mirror before going public even before your everyday audience. Check your spelling. Check your facts. Check your grammar. Make sure you look your best for that Inner Circle who visits your blog regularly. That way, when you surface on the radar of the professionals, your blog is ready for Prime Time.

Do you have a blog? How do you manage the real-time editing that goes into such an effort? What about your hook-and-summary? What's your best approach to handling that?


  1. Great post! I find when I'm in a hurry I make blunders I wouldn't normally make. Actually a few popped up lately that I hastily edited as soon as they were found. D'OH!

    1. Same here! It seems that something always "goes to the presses" before I catch it.

  2. Good points. I know that when I blog, I tend to just re-read through it once before hitting submit. My resume? I still agonize over that (and still think it sucks....)

    1. is a daunting thing to consider....still not sure what my blog says to a prospective agent/publisher....

  3. What an awesome spot and very valid points. I try really hard to be a great writer on my blog, but I often can't see past my own mistakes :(

    1. Thanks for reading! ....and we all make mistakes. I'm glad I'm not alone in that struggle!

  4. When I first started blogging, it was hard to balance being professional and having fun with it. The more I do it, the easier it gets (sometimes, heh). Great tips!