The Internet, like herpes, is forever

And  writers (especially aspiring ones) would be wise to understand that. I know, I know, I know that you *have* to market yourself, get out there and be visible,  create your own fame. Sheesh, the internet tells you that every day if you frequent writers’ sites and blogs.

But be aware that it isn’t only your webpage (the one with your name as the URL, you know, the *professional* one) that is visible to editors and publishers. The whiny, sometimes nasty, blog posts, forum posts on writers’ sites, and social networking sites (anyone tweet or faceplant on the internet…hmmm?) all come up when someone googles you.

I only google writers whose work I’m interested in. (Read *am really considering elevating from the slush to the board room for a hearty debate on contracting*) And sometimes, I change my mind about those manuscripts (from a thumbs up to a thumbs down) based on what I read on the internet posted by the very same aspiring writers.

So, a simple list for how to present yourself on the internet if you *truly* feel compelled to have a presence (it is far better, in my opinion, to have zero internet presence than a disturbing one):

1. Be professional (no swearing, complaining, bitching, or overpowering angst about writing, editors, agents, or frankly, the world). You make yourself sound hard to deal with, especially if you paint the publishing world as populated by idiotic dragons who don’t have the brains to enjoy your work.

2. Stay away from bragging about your unpublished manuscript, or those few short stories or non-fiction articles you have published. Let your work speak for itself. List them, for certain. Resist the temptation to show off. It looks bad on you. And never post your work on the internet and then attempt to have it contracted. Never. Period.

3. Don’t give other writers advice unless you are very well published in your genre. Most of the *advice* I read from newly published writers is very narrow in perspective.

4. Don’t tie your potential publisher’s hands by branding yourself or your work with too big of a Circle M or Zombies Forever scar. Frankly, this one is the one that bugs me the most. You’re stealing the publisher’s right to position your work where they think it will sell best. In fact, you might position yourself right out of a book deal.

5. Lastly, don’t make yourself up. The internet is like playing make-believe, you can be anybody you want, right? Editors and publishers want to deal with real people. Honest people who will interact with them on a valid basis. If you like to have fun on the internet, don’t use your real name. Make up a persona and be outrageous with it. But leave your real name for when it counts. Like when an editor googles you.


7 Responses to “The Internet, like herpes, is forever”
  1. Heather says:

    Wow, this is shocking news–that a google search might disqualify someone’s work from being accepted. I don’t know how extensive these searches can get (and, I imagine the sites where you pay to find out more information, yield more information), but I just spent an hour or so googling my name and a user name of a site I used to be on–and turned up several people with the same match. Some, I wouldn’t mind being mistaken for (exept for that ‘don’t make yourself up’ part), and some very dubious ones, as well.

    How can you be sure you have the right person? Or, what about situations of identity theft? And, then, if I might venture one more–what about second chances?

    • ED says:

      Hi Heather

      Wow, I scared you, non? Sorry about that. Okay. First, I don’t “pay” to snoop on folks on the internet, so rest assured, I doubt any other editors or publishers are doing that either. I simply google both the author’s name and sometimes the title of the manuscript. If I hit a site that obviously matches (same name, talking about writing, the manuscript is named there, etc.), I read it.

      Most of the stuff people post about their writing and themselves is innocent and often charming. But every once in a while, that’s not the case. And those are the ones I’m refering to here. I don’t go looking for dirt, I simply go looking for how a writer is marketing themselves (if they choose to do that).

      Identity theft? Creepy thought if someone is deliberately assuming the identity of another in the guise of a writer.

      Second chances? Sure, every manuscript is new when it comes in. I might not go for that particular one because the writer has positioned it in a place I don’t think the publishing house will support, but if they submit something else, it’s a fresh start.

      And remember, this is just about what I do as an editor. I’m not everybody, I’m just me. And what bugs me isn’t necessarily a “rule” in acquisitions.


  2. There are a few people with the same name as me…One of them has a myspace account…it kind of worries me…I don’t have one. I hope she is being good!

    I hope that my blog offers a bit of encouragment for aspiring writers…and all other humans (and cats…)

    • ED says:

      Hi Sharon

      I wouldn’t worry too much about folks with the same name. This happens to almost everybody, including me. :-)


  3. Susan says:

    Hi Ed,

    Thank you so much for the blog. I have read all the posts, and feel so much better now. I have only started writing *seriously* in the last few months…and have spent so much time trying to follow each and every piece of advice from Agents, Editors, other Writers blogs etc….it’s exhausting!

    The funniest thing is that before I even knew there was such a thing as a query letter, synopsis, word count etc, I sent an email to an Agent (I had randomly Googled the type of book I thought my ‘story’ was) – she asked to see the full manuscript…I was so clueless I didn’t realise that I had broken just about every rule in the book.

    However, the point to all this rambling is, since I have “learnt” all this stuff about publishing, joined crit groups etc – people are telling me that I read like I’m trying too hard to “write well”, and have as much humour as slug spit – I must have lost my voice! I no longer like what I write, as I am trying to please everyone else! (Too busy worrying about grammar, punctuation, POV, showing not telling, getting rid of all the ‘ly words – arrgghhhh!)

    Thank you for putting everything back into perspective for me – I’m going back to my REAL style, and will just keep writing…eventually someone may like it, or not. Either way, the sun will still rise tomorrow.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] A great post I found that looks at the dangers of thinking the Internet is a playground by an Anon Editor: The Internet, Like Herpes, Is Forever […]

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