If there’s one thing I know inside and out, it’s proper etiquette for a dinner party or social gathering. And everyone says write what you know, so I thought I would start a little series with that in mind…
You may be saying, “Dinner party? What does that have to do with writing?” Let me explain. We’re all expected to be active in social media before getting published, yes? Well, I look at social media as one big party. There are clusters of conversations scattered across a large room, people are laughing, drinking, sharing stories of their lives and in general, catching up. Then, there’s you. You just walked inside. Even while outside you could hear the low rumble of voices as you approached the door. Now that you’re here, what do you do? In other words, you’ve set up your Facebook page, you have a Twitter account, you even have a blog—just like you’re told you should if you want to be an author one day. But, what now?
Now, it’s time to mingle! See and be seen! This, however, is where the tricky part begins… What do you say? With all these people here, who do you talk to? And, are there rules? Things you shouldn’t say? These are all questions I’ll answer in this series. Today, I’m going to start with a lesson my mom taught me when I was just a wee little girl with a big mouth:
Never gossip in a restaurant. You don’t know who is sitting at the next table.
How does this apply to social media? I’ve read some shocking blogs out there talking about literary agents and publishers. The writing world is very small. How does the writer of that blog know who reads their posts? They don’t. I’ve read really inflammatory remarks about authors and books on twitter. How does that person know I’m not good friends with the author in question?
This actually happened to me in person at a cocktail party a few years ago. Without going into specifics, there had been a big news story about someone in Politics. The next day I went to a party…yes, I admit it was a Junior League party and I’m one of “those” girls. Someone was making awful judgments about this person in the news. Did she notice my discomfort? No. What I never told her was the person in the news was my good friend’s father-in-law. It was awkward. And because of her comments, I distanced myself from her. Social media only amplifies this to a greater magnitude. If you make hurtful remarks about someone in the industry—even in jest—you are making an enemy. So, here are a few guidelines to follow that will make it easy:
- Never share what was written in a rejection letter except with your best friend- OFFLINE!
- Never repeat evil remarks written in your contest entry feedback. Yes, it happens. Yes, it hurts. But, no good can come of sharing it.
- Never make fun of a book you read recently. It was a stinker. We’ve all read them; just don’t name names on Twitter.
- You heard the juiciest bit of gossip at your last writer’s group meeting about Publisher X. Whatever you do, don’t repeat this in print—anywhere.
Social media can be a blast! I love blogging, tweeting and facebooking! And if you think of it like mingling at a party, you can have a great time too. Come on, let’s go party! I’m @southerntart and I follow back all non-scary writers.