Blogger: Wendy Lawton
As I looked around the Monterey Plaza ballroom and watched our Books & Such clients at our client retreat talking and networking, I found myself realizing that one thing almost all our clients share is a sense of what is appropriate. They are appropriate in person and appropriate online. I love that about them.
It made me realize that is one thing I look for in clients. An important trait. I want clients who have healthy filters– who know what to say and what not to say. Who know when to say it and when to stay silent. Who know where to say things and where to keep their thoughts to themselves. So what do I mean by that?
A few weeks ago I posted a quick little status on Facebook that read:
Guess what? You can’t win if you discuss politics on Facebook. No matter how passionately you feel about an upcoming election it is potentially damaging to open the subject in your news feed because (a) half your “friends” will be irritated with you, (b) they may post incendiary comments taking your feed to a full fledged flame war, (c) those who agree with you will stand up for you and challenge those who commented negatively, pouring fuel on the fire, and (d) you will change no one’s mind.
If you are an author, as many of my FB friends are, you can’t afford to tick off half your potential readership. We can all name authors we cringe to read because they’ve become so political.
No one could disagree with that, right? Wrong! You can’t believe how many of the 85 comments said something like this: “And if satan takes over the World, we will still have our readership numbers?” Yikes!
All that to say I appreciate my clients who understand that there are good places to discuss politics and appropriate places to try to change minds and there are places where it is just plain futile. I love a rousing political discussion as much as anyone but not with a few thousand people listening in.
So what do I mean by having appropriate filters?
- A writer who is wildly political would not be my cup of tea unless that was his brand and that mirrored the book he was writing.
- I also appreciate writers who respond appropriately to the place they are responding. Sharing cringeworthy personal details on Facebook is rarely appropriate.
- I’m especially drawn to the encouragers. I see them all over social media and I begin to watch for their comments.
- We also begin to recognize the trolls, don’t we?
- I look for professionalism. Writers who share too much about their publishers or contract issues make me wary.
- Those who constantly gripe about the industry look like they would be a handful. And who wants to represent an Eeyore?
I could go on and on but let me address the flip side. I ‘m guessing you’d want a literary agent with appropriate filters as well. As you spent time following agents doesn’t it make you cringe when one comes out with a political diatribe. An agent can tick off publishers with inappropriate comments just as easily as writers can turn off a potential agent. So here’s my list of things that would indicate a literary agent with inappropriate filters:
- Talking about a client’s problem without his or her permission.
- Talking about one publisher to another publisher. (Everything we know about publishers is proprietary information– we cannot share it.)
- Taking an industry player to task online. (We may be agents but we are still bound by biblical standards and there is an appropriate way to deal with a problem.)
- Criticizing another agent. (Again, biblical standards.)
- Talking about personal issues online. (An agent is a professional. We need to separate our personal and share it only with trusted friends. We reflect our clients.)
So, the floor is open. Am I too calculating? Everyone values transparency these days and I’m recommending the opposite. What makes you cringe? (And be appropriate. 🙂 Don’t mention names or specifics.)