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Sunday, November 20, 2011

by Clare Langley-Hawthorne

I came across a blog post by literary agent Rachelle Gardner on 'what not to blog about' and it prompted me thinking about social media in the new age of publishing and what is and is not 'off limits'.

Rachelle's list of what authors should not blog about includes:
  • contract provisions (including advances, royalty rates etc.);
  • status of your manuscript being shopped;
  • unhappiness with your publisher, agent or publicist;
  • extreme social or political opinions; or
  • basically venting or ranting ad infinitum on pretty much anything:)
I think what should or should not be included in your blog depends on your aim and focus for blogging in the first place. At TKZ we pretty much focus on the craft of writing, the writing life, and the publishing industry. As such we tend to steer clear of political/religious or social discussions outside that (admittedly pretty wide) remit. I think one thing we all strive for is to appear professional about our writing and this is where I think Rachelle's blog post provides a timely reminder to be careful about crossing the line when it comes to social media.

What do I mean by crossing the line? - Saying anything that might negatively impact your writing career. In this era of digital publishing the rules may be changing but the need to appear professional remains the same.

In addition to Rachelle's list, I would also hesitate to disclose too much about your current WIP (apart from generalities), status of your discussions/contracts with an agent, or anything that your publisher may regard as confidential. In addition, I think authors need to be cautious about what material they self-publish when under contract (witness the controversy when Kiana Davenport lost her traditional deal after refusing to pull a self-published work). While it is fine to blog about the challenges of writing, it is also important not to appear negative or unprofessional or to disclose too much about particular people or publishers involved (after all, you never know who may be reading what you post...)

Now perhaps some of you think I am too cautious, but I worry that there are so many mechanisms for authors and readers to reach a 'personal connection' - from blogging to Facebook and Twitter - that sometimes the line between personal and professional gets blurred. Rachelle's blog post was a great reminder of this for me.

So what do you think? What things do you think authors should not blog about? Have you ever blogged, tweeted or posted on Facebook anything you later regretted?


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