So you’ve landed an agent! Whew. Work’s done. Time to sit back with your Mojito and let the agent take over the reins. ::Bubble:: POP! Let’s talk reality.
True: your agent is there to get you published (hopefully). True: your agent is there to give you sound advice on your current manuscript and future works-in-progress. True: your agent is there to hold your hand when you are lost in this crazy world called publishing. False: (you knew it was coming) your agent cannot be your social persona. And unfortunately, a negative social persona can make you a publishing pariah.
As authors and potential authors, you have the world waiting to hear from you via the Internet. Twitter feeds, Facebook pages (both fan pages and personal pages), blogs, Tumblr, Web sites, even just a simple Google search could have someone reading every bit of material about you at the click of a button.
Hint: Use this to your advantage. Second hint: It’s harder than it seems. While it’s just plain common sense not to post naughty pictures of yourself on the Web, it might not be as intuitive to watch what you say. For example: Publisher X just released a book about reality television star Y, but Publisher X won’t give your “rousing book on the problem in Country Z” a second glance. So naturally you are angry and you post on Twitter: “Publisher X only cares about money and they produce total crap. I cannot believe they release this kind of trash.”
Unfortunately for you, Publisher X was actually looking at your manuscript as you wrote those angry words, and you just blew it.
You might think you are invisible on the Web. If you can’t see them, they can’t see you, right? Wrong. With tools such as Google Alerts, anyone can see anything posted about them on the Internet. And it will come back to bite you. I promise.
For an agent, the client who breaches etiquette over the Internet is terrifying. They are a loose cannon and it’s hard for an agent to trust them on their own. By saying inappropriate things over Twitter/Facebook/blogs etc, they not only ruin their own reputation and chances of getting published, but they hurt their agent’s reputation as well.
True story time: An editor once told me regarding Twitter, “Once, I clicked through and saw it was your standard, unpublished (but agented) author—complaining about how long it took editors to consider her manuscript and how this would be ‘unacceptable’ in any other industry and what a bunch of bums editors were. I was considering her manuscript at the time.”
This Internet business is hard work. But worth it if you play your cards right.