Friday, June 17, 2016

Interacting with agents on Twitter

Rejections sucks, no two ways about it, and it's particularly painful if you feel a connection to the agent. And, Twitter can make you feel connected; it's one of the things Twitter does best.

Thus it can be painful to see an agent chatting merrily away about this that and the other, after she's just (demonstrated her complete lack of taste and sense)  rejected your manuscript.

Of course you don't want to see her.

I suggest muting the agent rather than unfollowing. Unfollowing feels hostile to the recipient. Muting is invisible. She'll never know, and you'll never see her (unless you want to.)

On the other hand if, post rejection, you decide to just unfollow cause who the hell needs her anymore anyway, well, that's a fast way to shoot yourself in the foot with some agent. Not me of course, I won't even notice, cause I don't keep track of who follows me, but some agents do, and why alienate someone in a fit of pique particularly when voodoo dolls are cheaper, and much more painful?

But the larger question of whether to interact with agents on Twitter is a different kettle of fish. It can be a good way to establish a connection of sorts. It certainly doesn't hurt if I recognize your name if you send me a query.

What we all (agents and writers both) need to remember is that writers are woodland creatures, and agents are T-rex.  By that I mean a T-rex strolling around the forest looking for delicious kale to take home and stir fry makes a lot of noise, and rattles the woodlands. Woodland creatures are shaken, and madly flee the T-rex's feet.  What the T-rex sees as merely walking around, the woodland creatures see as impending doom. And neither of them are wrong.  It just depends on what size your feet are here.

Writers tend to watch every word an agent says, scouring every turn of phrase for clues. Agents on the other hand have been known to just...yanno...yammer. Twitter is more yammer than anything else, and if you're a writer you should NOT try to parse out tweets for hidden meanings unless it's overtly about publishing. (Hint: #pubtip, #queryTip #FusterCluck etc. are reliable indicators it's about publishing.)

So, can you be friends with a T-Rex? Sure. Carefully though. Very very carefully.


Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Being professional, friendly, kind and occasionally amusing may get you read but there's a line, dear woodland creatures, one should always approach with caution.
We're on one side, they are on the other. Or, as we reiders know, frolicking inside the floating ropes adjacent to the beach is one thing, out in open water, we're prey.

Long ago and far, far away from here I crossed that line - once. I can tell you the exact date and time. I was a woodland creature misunderstanding the boundaries within the publishing industry.
Always, always be professional and remember: T Rex's have a very toothy grin. It's how they survive, how they get you to the edge of their territory. Sharks, they're different. They swim under the ropes.

Colin Smith said...

Can you actually tell if someone unfollows you on Twitter without checking your list of followers for omissions? Not that I would--writers suffer enough with rejection as it is. But I know my follower count fluctuates simply because I don't automatically follow everyone who follows me. I'm more likely to follow someone on Twitter if I have an established rapport with them (e.g., I know you here). If you just want me to pay you some attention because you've got a book coming out... sorry, that's not what I use Twitter for.

On the agent front, I like following agents on Twitter because it's another way to get to know them and figure out if I would enjoy working with them. That "yammering" can be quite informative. The agent says she doesn't rep UF, yet she just finished reading everything Jeff Somers has written. You think the agent will be a good fit, but she hates almost everything you love, and has views that might make for some awkward phone calls.

And some agents are just plain fun to follow. I've been following Janet since I was writing YA just because her Tweets are funny and/or informative. Sometimes you just like hanging out with people.

I don't Tweet a whole lot, but if you want to add me to your list of follows, I'm @colin_d_smith. If you think I might not recognize you from the Reef, let me know who you are here, and I'll follow back. :)

E.M. Goldsmith said...

2Ns is too fast. I thought I was going to be first today. Always the bridesmaid never the...

Oh right, topic. Most agents are boring on Twitter- not our Queen of course, she is frequently pithy and accompanied by a royal cat, but most of them, not worth getting panties in wad over rejection. I would never unfollow an agent for rejecting me. Rejecting me is part of their job. I get it. Besides, if I did unfollow an agent, I doubt they would notice. I mostly tweet puppies and rainbows. Most agents, regardless of whether I query them or not, overlook my existence entirely. :/

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Colin, you beat me too. Commenting via phone takes too long. But I follow Colin on Twitter which is nice because at least it's not his job to reject me.

Megan V said...

All I could picture here was Elmer Fudd and his "be vewwy vewwy quiet, I'm hunting wabbits."

Twitter creates an interesting conundrum. On the one hand you get to interact with agents as, ya know, humans. On the other hand, it's a lot easier for a woodland creature to give the wrong impression.

When it comes to agents, it's best to treat twitter like an informal professional communication. I try and think of it as a social gathering for a company. In this case, plenty of people would be miffed if a person introduced themselves and then just turned around and flounced off for no good reason...

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

There are apps one can use, to keep track of who is following/unfollowing, if one is so inclined.

I follow agents, lit mags, etc. on Twitter. It's a way to find out about proclivities, and occasionally discover opportunities. It's a way to build (perhaps tenuous?) connections. I've had great interactions with magazines, editors, etc. who have rejected my work, who have my work under consideration, and everything in between. I've had people in an email say both "your story is going to the next level of consideration" and also "thank you for your retweet the other day" or something like that.

But there is a line. I don't want to be demanding of somebody who owes me nothing. I don't want fairly innocuous interactions to become weird or uncomfortable. Yes, I sent X my story/query/full. Yes, X rejected me. I'll try again next time. It's part of the game. It sucks and it happens and requires a level of both detached and involved perseverance which is difficult to maintain.

Colin Smith said...

What Jennifer said: "I don't want to be demanding of somebody who owes me nothing. I don't want fairly innocuous interactions to become weird or uncomfortable."

And--this is why I suck at business--I don't treat Twitter as a marketing tool. Sure, I tweet when I post a new blog article, but that's just me letting people who follow me (and, I presume therefore, are interested in things I say) know I have said something somewhere. But primarily, Twitter is a way to make connections. Yes, to find out about stuff, but mostly to share thoughts, ideas, jokes, etc. Which means it would never cross my mind to unfollow an agent who rejects my query. In fact, while I might mention a Twitter conversation in a query, I would never mention a query in a Twitter conversation.

A good analogy is having a job interview with someone I know. I might ask about their family at the interview, but I wouldn't disown them socially if they didn't give me the job. And I probably wouldn't even talk about the interview socially. Too awkward for both of us.

Donnaeve said...

I don't spend a lot of time on Twitter. I've learned about Lists etc., in order to fine tune things - which reminds me, I need add a Reider List so I can flag ya'll - but, anyway, I might get out there once a day. Sometimes I forget.

What I would NEVER do is unfollow b/c of a rejection. It seems kind of petty. I like what QOTKU says, just mute the agent. Your feelings will likely change once the sting has lessened.

OT: Strange but true. Did anybody see the brief news blip about Meatloaf? (the singer) He collapsed last night on stage in Edmonton. He's in the hospital in good condition...had complained of feeling ill in last couple concerts I think. I only bring that up cause of the whole thing around meatloaf yesterday. What a coinkydink.

Colin Smith said...

Donna: Someone mentioned it late in the comments on yesterday's post. That is a bit Twilight Zone...! :-|

InkStainedWench said...

Hi Colin! I just followed you, but you wouldn't know me. I tweet as @Snarkworth.

Theresa said...

As one of my friends says about personal and professional interactions, "Don't be an a**hole." You'll go far and get along with lots more people.

Rejection is tough. Janet's advice is spot on, as usual. Some people keep track of their follows and unfollows, so use the mute button if you can't bear to follow an agent who has rejected you. You may come to regret the unfollow.

Off topic, I had my first ever author event in a bookstore last night. The first thing I noticed when I walked in and saw where my table was positioned: it was right in front of the shelf that housed all of Gary Corby's books!

Colin Smith said...

Theresa: Wow, what an enlightened bookstore--not only for hosting an author event for you (congrats!!), but to have an entire shelf of Gary Corby books! :)

Dena Pawling said...

Yesterday I cleaned up my twitter feed by muting some, unfollowing others, etc. I need to keep it at a manageable level so I don't spend all my writing time there.

In the past, I've followed agents I was considering for queries, to learn a little more about them. There were a few I took off my query list because I didn't like what I learned.

I've interacted with some of them on twitter, but nothing that would rise to the level of “a ton”. Probably “every once in a while” would be accurate. I'm reasonably certain that Janet is the only agent who would actually recognize my name/handle. However, I follow her [and a few others] because they are interesting and/or informative and/or funny, I don't follow her because I'm querying her.

I understand the implication of a writer who interacts “a ton” on twitter and then unfollows when rejected. The interactions weren't really sincere, they had strings attached. And no one wants to be used.

DLM said...

Theresa, congratulations on your event! Surely it's a good sign to be next to Gary Corby.

I follow a number of agents, but I don't think a single one of them reps anything like my work, so it's all sort of pressure-free. Not least as I'm not in a position to query in any case.

Many of the posts we see here and at other agents' blogs boil down to a simple, broad concept: Twitter is not a business tool. You don't follow up on queries there, you don't QUERY there (outside of specific pitching events), you don't ask how to query, you don't ask whether you should query, you don't try to submit your tax returns there. You can't even depend entirely upon what's said on Twitter to guide you: #MSWL is a wonderful thing, but I've seen agents who say they won't use it now, because they don't always know *what* they are seeking until it walks up and greets them.

Maybe it's walking on T-rex feet, maybe it's tiptoeing amidst the woodland creature followers. They'll have to get off Twitter to know.

InkStainedWench said...

I follow several agents on Twitter, all of whom rejected my query. A few only tweet promotional stuff, like book releases and cover reveals. But most have interesting stuff to say, and I enjoy following them as I would any amusing/literary person.

Craig F said...

Gladly would I listen to the advice of any Agent. I do not, however, feel deprived by missing all of those 140 character tweets. What I have seen of those things has been less than desirable. Maybe that is why I don't tweet at all.

Another reason that I don't tweet is because I have a hard enough time making sure I don't mess up English and the tweet language is another world.

I know I would screw something or overstep somewhere if I became an avid tweetie. There are no guardian sharks in the twitter world and I do not wish to face the trolls with the flamethrowers until I get through the query trenches and past the live ammo obstacle course of contract negotiation.

My life is exciting enough at this particular time, I don't need to invite more yet.

RachelErin said...

Colin - you are absolutely not supposed to use Twitter to direct market, or at least not often. The generally accepted rule-of-thumb is 90/10 - 90% stuff that is valuable to your followers (being funny, linking to good articles, retweeting other cool people) and 10% you. More than that and people unfollow.

I recently found my twitter niche by retweeting science and history writers I follow as inspiration for fiction writers, particularly SFF and histfic. It's really fun for me, and since not many fiction writers follow the crazy amount of scientists I do, I think I bring something new to the conversation.

My favorite way to interact with agents is to reply when they ask "reading anything good?" or "I just finished X, and loved it, what should I try next?" I started responding to those after Janet suggested using those questions to break the ice at conferences - completely non-threatening or clingy, but if they do remember me when I query they remember that I am well-read =). I don't try to look up their clients, or anything that fancy, I just answer honestly.

Maggie Maxwell said...

Like Jennifer said, there are apps and websites to track followers and unfollowers. I like, because it covers pretty much everyone on your list. It's helped me do a lot of clean-up after I realized following everyone back was not a very good idea. No wonder I couldn't figure twitter out when my feed was filled with ads. RachelErin is 100% right about using twitter to direct market. Tweeting nothing but "me me me buy my book look at this person who liked my book look at meeeeeeee" is a surefire way to get anyone who might have been interested in you to drop you like hot coals.

Colin and InkStainedWench, I've followed you both as @wanderingquille.

Joseph S. said...

Theresa - How did you get so interested in women in the Philippines during WWII. Your books look very interesting.

and Point #2 - I always wanted to be Somebody. Now, thanks to Colin, I'm Someone, which gets one step closer.

julieweathers said...

E.M. I don't even try to be first comment. I"ll wait until someone else pops up to post so whoever gets the feather of the day.

I won't unfollow an agent or publishing professional because of a rejection, it's part of the business, but I do wish they would have professional accounts and personal accounts. On their personal accounts they can rant about all their religious, political, social justice warrior issues, vaginas, penises, and whatever else is dear to their hearts. On their professional accounts they can talk about stuff like writing, their clients, publishing, puppies, slithering Barbara Poelle snatching another author, trends, queries, tips, what you had for lunch, great places to visit when you come to NY, whatever seems professional and maybe fun.

I've unfollowed three authors this week who were fixated on discussing their vaginas. Are vaginas trending? I don't care about their vaginas. I can barely keep mine dusted once a week. Criminy.

Unfortunately or fortunately, when you do these twitter contests, lots of other writers follow you. Then you feel obligated to follow them back. Then your feed gets crammed with all kinds of promotions and rants and you have to periodically purge.

For whatever reason, a bunch of them then followed my son who just naively automatically follows back. I guess because following a soldier is cool or something or they thought they were being nice and it is. Then his feed gets hit with political debates.

"Uh, Mom. I'm unfollowing some of your writer friends on twitter."

"OK, why are you following them to begin with and what happened?"

Yeah, probably best not to follow him. He doesn't suffer fools well.

On the other hand, I can tell you from experience, just because you chat up an agent on twitter all the time doesn't mean they'll remember you at a conference. You may think you have a rapport, but I imagine hundreds of people are chatting away with them also. I watched this happen. "Oh, I know agent so and so from twitter. I must go say hello. She'll want to meet me."

"Hello, Agent. It's me Chatty Cathy!"

"Oh, hello Chatty Cathy."

"You know, from twitter. We talk all the time!"

"Oh...yes. Hello."

I enjoy chatting with agents and editors on twitter. I especially like chatting with the ones who don't rep what I write, not that they know that, because there is no underlying mistrust of why I am being friendly. I do temper my comments.

I regularly tempt NYCeditor with cookies and say I will be right there with a delivery. She confirms I have her address. I say sure, be right up. I have assured her I don't really. I have no idea who she is or where she is, but we still banter back and forth like that and she'll ask me where her cookies are.

I would tempt Janet with sushi or maybe some Irish whisky though I know she prefers Scotch.

I wouldn't do this with someone else who hasn't been bantering with me for a while as they might think I am stalking them. You have to be careful with this stuff.

Other people, I keep it strictly professional. You can't count on them not remembering you.

John Davis Frain said...

Both sides of this discussion resonate with me -- the agent's and the writer's. But I find it telling that an agent will take the time out of a busy schedule to check to see who has unfollowed them. We all have that option, but we also have the same 24 hours in a day.

When it comes to determining who might qualify as a so-called dream agent, writers really have very little information to go on. Certainly not as much as a general manager in baseball who can pore over loads of information about a player or a prospect. Not even as much information as someone on or a dating site. (I get that we have query tracker, websites, etc.)

With so little information regarding agents, even a small glimmer into their personality or habits will have a large impact. So when I read that tweet on Twitter, I wondered if I would want to work with an agent who thought that way. It strikes me as the same bitterness as the writer who unfollowed after a rejection. If one act is petty, why isn't the other?

Now, I understand it works both ways. An agent who reads this post might think I sound like an asshat, and put my name in the "Avoid" column in case my query rolls in. It's a risk we take, so I should probably delete this, but I haven't had enough sleep to think that well.

DLM said...

Julie: and I thought people who post their follow/unfollow/retweet stats were oversharing ...

The wee and paltry brain, she reels.

Colin Smith said...

Part of me wants to pretend we still live in the day when a writer could wear his sphincter and still have a writing career without any contact with the outside world. The only people who would know which end was which would be those they let into their lives, and those people could be few and far between.

Now, I don't believe my posterior is adorned with any kind of head wear, but wouldn't it be nice if we didn't have to deal with any social media...?

But that's not the world we live in. Social media is a part of art and entertainment. That's where our audience is, if we want our work to have an audience. If we don't live there too, it's not impossible to have a career in the arts, but it's a whole lot harder.

Leah B said...

Maybe I'd feel differently if I used social media, but a "I'll remember you if you unfollow me" threat sounds so very high school. Who cares if someone you don't know follows or unfollows you? I don't get it.

Unknown said...

After getting all liquored up and taking the plunge, I’m still puzzled as to the value of Twitter for aspiring writers. Authors like JK Rowling (whom I follow) use Twitter to compare presidential candidates to their own evil character and make the major news networks. For the rest of us, posting on Twitter’s a bit like shouting at the Fox News broadcast. Dude, no one’s listening. You’re starting to scare us.

Interestingly I’ve had two literary agents follow me, God only knows why. Just checked and they’re still there. It’s like when I heard that T-Rex stomping around outside, and next thing I see is a giant bloodshot eye staring into my woodland parlor.

“Hmmm, that smells delicious,” she said. “Mind if I join you for tea?”

“Why of course,” I replied, hoping she didn’t intend to eat me.

Anyway, unfollowing is pretty par for the course to control the length and usefulness of your feed. I don’t think it’s personal. I recently and ruthlessly pared my follows. Now my feed, (some authors published and unpublished, a few agents, a few editors, and that’s about it,) is actually pretty interesting to read.

Janice Grinyer said...

I am a Twitter virgin. One day I may sign up to join in on the fun, but today's not that day.

I am familiar with rejection, being born in Illinois and all. Living on the border with Wisconsin has made me a FIB by birth;ironically I married a Wisconsinite. He doesn't call me a FIB. If you haven't figured out what a FIB is, its Fucking Illinois Bitch or Bastard. There is this distinct rivalry between the states... :o

But then it's probably why I don't get so worked up easily, esp. when you have had a career path like I have had. One where you get called names like stupid bitch when you have to reject someone's request. You just suck it up and move on; do your job. Most importantly it gives you compassion for the person who has to reject your own request, knowing what they have gone through with other people's responses. You recognize it's their job, not who they are as a person. I think Agents are people...with Shark and T-rex tendencies maybe, but they are people, right? Right?!? oh my...

Anyway Im pretty sure in the query process as a writer no one calls you a stupid bitch publically, so I should be good to go. :D

Colin Smith said...

Continuing my previous thought, and with a nod to Robert's comment, Twitter is a useful tool for sharing thoughts and ideas, and getting support, encouragement, and perhaps a bit of accountability from others (e.g., some writing groups host Twitter-based word sprints, where writers agree to spend an hour writing, and they all check in after that time to share how much they wrote).

There is, I suppose, some subtle promotion involved with Twitter, especially if you're a writer. After all, words are our stock-in-trade, and Twitter is all about words. Like the writing contests here, or our blogs, not only is there a huge fun component, but there's also that opportunity to ply our craft, and maybe cultivate some interest that could, one day, result in book sales.

Yeah, I'm just throwing out thoughts. Sorry--totally violating the 3*100 rule. I'll shut up. :)

Jenz said...

There are tools to check followers/not-followers in a broad sense, but if you want to check an individual, all you have to do is look at their profile. It'll say if you follow them and if they follow you.

And Janet, I don't know how you managed to jinx Meatloaf, but stop that!

InkStainedWench said...

New followers followed back! Thanks.

I like to think of my twitter feed as curated (even artisanal!). It's fun to follow people with wildly varied interests. That way, I can retweet things my followers haven't seen.

Snarkworth (with inky smudges)

Andrea said...

I re-signed up to Twitter a few months ago but I only follow the Shark and another agency for their tips on querying or writing. The first time I was on Twitter I followed tons of agents (and other people) and in the end it drove me mad. It was becoming a day-job to find the useful tweets between the white noise (I think the final straw was someone tweeting about the train being late or something... I understand people get bored when waiting for a train but they don't actually have to pay that boredom forward)

I now tend to use Twitter only to interact with other authors, or fellow-fans of those authors if they seem like nice people, but generally speaking I find Twitter incredibly superficial. I was following about 70 people/organisations and over the past few months I've unfollowed more than half of them because they bored me. Reading Janet's OP I hope none of those were agents...

Oh... this reminds me of something else. Am I the only one who thinks agents making fun of queries they receive are not acting in a very professional way? I don't know if it still happens, but a few years ago I used to see it all the time. Agent receives query, shares exasperation with the rest of the world on Twitter, and a whole bunch of aspiring authors reply to show their sympathy with Agent, and in the end everyone has a good laugh about it and conclude that the poor misguided soul who sent the ridiculous query must be a complete idiot. I understand that agents must get frustrated with silly queries, but is this really necessary? I'm a teacher, and I have to deal with stupid (no, really) questions or comments from parents all the time. Well, maybe not all the time, but it happens frequently. It's exasperating and frustrating sometimes, but it's part of the job. If I started tweeting about this and my boss found out, I'd be packing my bags the same day, because it's unprofessional behaviour.

I'm not talking about the way Janet writes about queries, because she spends a lot of time trying to educate us woodland creatures and I love her common sense. I'm talking about agents who think it's necessary to make fun of potential clients, followed by a whole hoard of aspiring authors who are desperate to be "part of the club". Back then, when I came across this on Twitter a lot, it almost put me off traditional publishing, because if this was an indication of what the rest would be like.. then no thank you.

Panda in Chief said...

I signed up for twitter way back when I had no idea what to do with it. I just didn't get it. Then during the panda cam shut down of 2013, I got active on twitter because I was suddenly deprived of watching the National Zoo's baby panda, the first since 2005. I think maybe some other things were closed down too, but the panda cam shut down got me there, and connected with a whole lot of panda fanatics who then became readers of my cartoons, and some of them even became friends IRL.

After spending some time there, I started figuring out that I could follow agents and editors, primarily as a "lurker" and learned to find links to informative articles on writing, illustrating and publishing. It was always a thrill when I learned an agent was following me, and I would put them on my list for possible querying when I was ready for the query trenches. I occasionally join conversations when it feels right, but have tried mightily not to be an asshat.

If anyone wants to follow me, I'm @PandaChronicle (big surprise!) I don't spend much time there, but I do enjoy an occasional Twitter romp. Happy Friday, everyone.

BJ Muntain said...

I like following agents on Twitter. They've usually got some good information - and darn it, but they're good people, too! I don't agree with them all (especially when they reject me) but I don't hold that against them. I've been able to say 'hi' to a couple of agents I've interacted with on Twitter at conferences, which is nice. But I'm indiscriminate when I follow agents - I follow those who don't rep what I write, as well as those who do. I can learn from anyone.

I don't unfollow a lot of people. If I do, it's simply because I'm tired of what they tweet - if they're asshats or if they constantly tweet clickbait and nothing else, or if all they do is promote and don't interact... You know, the kind of things you'd unfollow anyone for. But then, I'm usually pretty careful about who I *do* follow to begin with.

There are services out there that will tell you who followed/unfollowed you. Sometimes, they will automatically tweet those numbers using that person's account. I hope that most people who tweet those numbers don't realize that's happening. It's barely interesting enough for the person using that service. It's NOT interesting to those who don't.

Donna: Meat Loaf had actually postponed a couple of concerts - including the one in Saskatchewan - due to illness. Since it seems he collapsed due to dehydration, I'm going to blame Craig's post about liking the 'crunchy' bits of a meatloaf.

julieweathers said...

I think I'm getting ready to unfollow all agents and publishing people and start a separate account for just the writer Julie Weathers. Would any of them care if I unfollowed all of them? Not that I do that much with twitter anymore. I went home to take medicine while grandson is over at friend's playing. I decided to take a quick look at my twitter feed out of curiosity. It is so jammed with political crap and rants.

Anyway. My feed is so cluttered with this being an election year and I can't even find the agents and authors I want to follow. I'm not even sure I should. Maybe I should just shut down twitter all together. It seems like it would be simpler.

Anonymous said...

As always, Janet is very smart about all of this. When I tweeted this out because someone hurt my feelings. I did not expect it to become a THING and a thing it became! It is interesting when people take what you say and misinterpret it, or don't see the follow up conversations you had with people about it on twitter. Also when people start talking about it and don't know you or how you use twitter.

In this case, it was specifically about people who interact a lot right before they send a query and when that query or requested pages are sitting in my inbox, then the moment they get a rejection stop interacting AND then months later, they start interacting a ton again and a few days later a new query comes into my inbox. That is a case I will remember them and that they were nice and friendly only because they could get something from me. Especially when I gave them much more than a form letter the first time because I knew them on twitter I believe in being nice and friendly because, well, you are nice and friendly. It may not bother other agents, but agenting isn't the first time I've had people be nice just because i can get them things and it is something that I am sensitive to.

The other way I have noticed that people unfollowed it is that I follow a lot of writers I don't represent. I like writers. I think they are cool people and like to see what they say. That said, I will NEVER follow a writer when I have their pages. I don't want to get their hopes up and I know many writers would obsess over that. So a few days after I send a rejection to a writer who I really like on twitter, I'll head over to their twitter to follow them and see that they have unfollowed me. And that feeling sucks.

Just my two cents

julieweathers said...

Ms. Flum, and while we're swimming around in our little fishbowl thinking how perfectly quiet and secret we are, we get caught again.

Hi! Welcome to the shark tank.

"In this case, it was specifically about people who interact a lot right before they send a query and when that query or requested pages are sitting in my inbox, then the moment they get a rejection stop interacting AND then months later, they start interacting a ton again and a few days later a new query comes into my inbox."


It drives me batcrap crazy.

I hang around crazy, scheming, desperate authors all the time. I'm like the bartender at the corner bar while we make our plans. Someone mentions social media and a plan rolls out with all the agents and how the author is going to chat them up and be friends so the agent will recognize their name when the query comes in.

"Uh, you don't think they'll realize they're being bombarded with your friendly strikes?"

I'm sure no one has ever thought of this before. Ever.

I don't know what the answer is. I detest agents or anyone else thinking I want anything from them. Except Janet. I want the secret of happiness from her.

DLM said...

InkStainedWench, too funny ...

Leah B, my sense of the "I'll notice" in this case is not so much that an agent cares who follows them or unfollows, but that the pattern of following someone, perhaps chatting them up, around the time of querying - and then unfollowing when a writer doesn't get what they want is common enough to be irksome. It's not about followers so much as it is authorial behavior; if you flounce off my twitter because I rejected your work, maybe it's an indicator of how you'll behave as a client. At the very least, it shows someone's using Twitter for ulterior reasons, so even if their unfollow isn't a sign they're fickle it may align with enough people who are to look that way.

When I was querying agents, I looked for reasons to eliminate them from MY list. I'd nix an agent whose website was entirely pink and flowery, because my work LIKELY is not a match for that sort of sensibility. I nixed for many reasons, and the reasons varied, I'll be honest. (I never had to cross an agent off my query list for discussions of their nether regions, thank Maud...) I don't apologize for the way I eliminated options when building my query lists.

Agents see a wide array of repetitive behaviors which may become associated with reasons to reject. Honestly, I can't blame 'em. I do it myself - with querying, with shopping for shoes, with a thousand decisions a week. Life, sometimes, is a process of elimination. (Just ask Penelope, she had quite a festival of elimination when she had some stomach issues yesterday ...)

Aha, and our OP appears! Hello and thank you for the background. It's totally understandable; people forget they're not invisible just because they put a bag over their head. Or go on Teh Intarwebs!

Colin Smith said...

Hi Caitie! This: "I think they [writers] are cool people and like to see what they say."

That alone makes me want to follow you on Twitter, regardless if you are ever interested in anything I might throw your way at any time in the near or distant future. :)

Speaking of that, I notice you do actually represent stuff I might be writing (see here, fellow Tank Dwellers:, but Janet says I'm not allowed to have a list, so I won't be adding you to the list of potential agents I don't have... *ahem*... ;D

julieweathers said...

Robert, I think a lot of agents will follow a writer back if a person is civilized and interesting. You're both, so I'm not surprised they would follow you.

Colin Smith said...

Julie: Ohhhh... you have to be interesting, do you? *sigh* Oh well... :)

Colin Smith said...

I'm supposed to be shutting up. See, I'm rubbish at this...

julieweathers said...


Well, you'll notice I said civilized also, and some of them follow me...

Colin Smith said...

Julie: You are very civilized. You write Civil War historicals, after all...

There--some Father's Day Dad humor.

See, I should have stopped talking 5 comments ago. At least. :)

DLM said...

Julie, it seems likely if you unfollow but then the new account which is identifiably you follows, there would be no reason to take offense. It just shows you're doing as you say - starting a writer's account - which makes pretty good sense. You could always tweet your plans from both accounts around the time of the transition.

I have Twitter pals who change their handles periodically. They don't actually unfollow and reappear in new accounts, but I do sometimes have to catch up to whom I'm seeing in one incarnation or another.

Since this seems fairly routine on Twitter and other platforms, I'd think unless you start creating accounts under new names like Princess Moonbeam DePreciousness Extraordinaire, you're probably fine and consistently identifiable.

After all, who wouldn't recognize a sham Julie Weathers impersonator? And who'd fail to recognize Julie if she were called JWeathers instead? Your voice will out.

Janice Grinyer said...

Catieflum - "As always, Janet is very smart about all of this. When I tweeted this out because someone hurt my feelings I did not expect it to become a THING and a thing it became!"

AHA! See, Agents are people!!

Hugs to you (((catieflum))) #imahuggerpooryou Being an Agent is not easy, and rejecting people's work cannot be easy. Thank you for commenting here and letting us see the other side of this. I'm afraid the world has turned into one big marketing ploy sometimes. This is why I love my day job of being a Timber Cruiser. Falling trees, mountain lions, and bears have nothing when it comes to social media...

Unknown said...

Julie, nicest thing anyone's said about me all west! Thank you.

DLM said...

Janice, I can't recall what agent I saw say this, but I suspect it's the truth of many agents' careers: "I became an agent because I wanted to make writers' dreams come TRUE - not because I wanted to CRUSH their dreams."

julieweathers said...


"You are very civilized. You write Civil War historicals, after all.."

Unfortunately, civil wars are never civil.

Theresa said...

Joseph Snoe: I got interested in the topic because of my fascination with the complexities of life under an enemy occupation. American women in the Philippines provided a unique, very under-studied opportunity to explore that.

Those of you who've provided your Twitter handles, I think I managed to follow all of you. We all have our preferences for social media. I've found Twitter to be a good way of keeping up with a variety of news and information.

Colin, it was because of this blog that I recognized Gary Corby's name, and I was absolutely tickled to be set right in front of his books. I pointed them out to other people in the store, too, and now my husband is very interested in reading them.

Craig F said...

@BJ Muntain: I love you too dear and will accept the blame if you wish to ascribe it to me. May I will just take one for the Queen We do need to get the facts straight though. The curse didn't come from me saying I like things that are crunchy and taste good with ketchup.

The jinx(curse) is from me not understanding writers who continue to flog a dead meatloaf.

@Caitie Flum: Much is said about writers needed to develop thick skin. Thank you for showing how much thicker the skin of an Agent must be. A writer can survive without the use of Twitter but I don't think that an Agent could. With so many people following your every Tweet it would create so much strain to stay civil. I know that I am not capable of not striking back on occasion. I am not going to did in and check so I will hope this is as bad as it gets for you. I am probably as close to a flamethrower carrying troll as there is here and I will not light the torch for one tweet.

John Davis Frain said...

A short list of times when humans pretend to be nice.

1. Cops lead the list. Nobody gets lied to more than cops.

Lots of distance till we get to second place.

2. Teachers. Students lie to 'em. Parents flatter them, so they'll like their kid.

3. Literary Agents. They hold what writers desperately need.

4. Abstract art. Let me interpret the ways I like this blotch of paint. Because I do. Like it. Except it's hung wrong.

I'm a basketball official. Last weekend I was at a clinic and here's what the top guy in our state said during a breakout session: "New officials will say to me, that coach was talking to me before the game. I think he really likes me. NO, HE DOESN'T. He wants to get the first call. He's trying to curry favor from you. He does not like you."

I have a few coaches in my state I wish would unfollow me, but they always show up at the gym. And they let me know they're there. So, rejection? Nothing new.

Janice Grinyer said...

Hello DLM!

I agree with you and that quote wholeheartedly. Good Agents want to help writers realize their dreams. I don't think Caitie Flum, JR and the others wish to do anything less.

Writers forget that although they can make up this great marketing persona on Twitter, Facebook, etc. in the end you still are who you are. You can't hide behind words, no matter how good they are.

julieweathers said...

Since my brain is totally unfocused today and I've had a tough time getting words down, I'm apparently clogging the airways where. I did delete one other post to make up for it which I realized sounded like I was pandering to agents, which wasn't my intent.

Two totally off topic announcements.

If you're interested in attending Surrey International Writers Conference in October, you should register very soon. Registration opened June 1 at noon and it's already 83% booked. Probably more now.

Second, if you are sick, especially if you're one of those people who don't believe in vaccinations, please don't visit someone with a newborn or a young child. Someone who had a virus decided to pay a family member with a ten-day-old infant a visit, not my family thank God or I would be in jail. The baby caught the virus and had a heart attack. Even with all the super medical technology available, he didn't make it.

Please, don't go visit people with newborns. You can wait. If you're sick. Stay away.

Colin Smith said...

Quick note: If you're a Reef Dweller, and you have followed me on Twitter, but I have not followed you back, Tweet me telling me you're a regular here. I probably just don't recognize your Twitter name. :)

Shutting up again. Again.

Oh, and Amen to what Julie said about newborns and viruses. They don't mix. Keep your lurgies to yourself. Visit when you're lurg-free. :)

Steve Stubbs said...

Ypu left something out. Where do we buy voodoo dolls? Are they available online?

Craig F said...

Just one question then. Wouldn't it be simpler if I sent you a query I added the postmark "Yeah, that Craig" to the bottom of it?

Oh crap, Priscilla is already on the lookout for me.

Joseph S. said...

I Googled, and amazingly, Steve, you can buy voodoo dolls online. I decided not to put up sample links. Yu can also visit your nearby friendly voodoo store.

Joseph S. said...

Theresa - Thanks for the information. It sounds so interesting. Not only are they Americans on an islands under enemy occupation; but women, and women in a country where they physically stand out from the islands' general population and from the occupying forces.

Julie - That baby story is devastating. It leaves me limp.

Julie (again) - I actually wrote a little today. I'm expanding a chapter to write the action sequence as it happens (as you recommended) instead of having it reported in the next chapter. I still have a ways to go but it's taking shape.

Panda in Chief said...

Boy am I glad I decided to never be an asshat on Twidder! I rarely unfollow people, Like BJ, I am selective on who I follow, and just because one of those shoutycaps BUYAMILLIONGAZILLIONFOLLOWERSONTWITTER asshats follows me, I don't follow them back. If someone follows me or comments on one of my posts, I check out their posts, and if they are interesting, then I follow the,pm. (Or if their feed is mostly made up of pictures and videos of baby pandas, then I am totally on board)

@Catieflum, what you are describing that these authors do is just bad manners, and junior high bad manners to boot. Kind of on the order of "your daddy has a big boat and I wanted to get invited to go boating on4th of July. Oh...I'm not invited? I'll just unfollow you." So even though you didn't mean it to be a "thing" it's a good reminder that manners still count for something, and sucking up just because you think someone can do something for you is just not done around here.

And lest you think I'm sucking up, not so! (I already have an agent...god I love saying that.)

I do have a couple of "spare" Twitter accounts, but only use them when it would be funnier to have a tweet from @NoirPandas or @theREALMrBun

Todays conversation was a good reminder that manners still count for something.

Julie Weathers said...


I know. My daughter's birthday is coming up and I always go a bit crazy this time of the year. When a friend posted asking for prayers for the baby, I was happy to add mine, of course. This drives me insane that anyone would be so stupid.

"Well, babies get immunity from their mothers." Holy Mother of God. Let me put you out of your misery.

Anyway. Forgive the rant.

I'm glad you got some writing in. Real time action always has more impact. I just finished a chapter that has both show and tell. It's a longer one so I end the show with the dramatic point of a tragic death and then mop up the aftermath in a telling bit. I think it would have diluted the death if I had played it all out. Who knows?

The landlord has a front end loader working in front of my place, so I can't even think.

In between clogging the airways here, I'm trying to clean up my twitter feed. Why is a professional hockey player following me? I wish there was a way you could make people unfollow you besides blocking them.

Colin Smith said...

Guys guys guys... I know, I'm breaking my silence, and rules, and whatnot, but I just had a moment of enlightenment.

Next time someone asks you what an "a**hat" is, here's the answer:

Donald Trump's hairpiece.

Well? :)

Joseph S. said...


You got my memory banks working. I went to someone’s home long ago for a New Years Eve party (must have been at my girlfriend’s request since I don’t like NYE parties.). It was a cold, wet night in Austin. A couple arrived with a four-day-old baby. The mother looked miserable.

I don’t know nothing about raising babies, and knew even less then, but even I knew that mother and child should not have come to the party. (I wish I hadn’t gone either).

As far as why the hockey player is following you on twitter, did you ever tweet your favorite seasonal song was “All I want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth?”

Anonymous said...

Nice reminder that agents, even with their thick skin and big prehistoric feet, are sometimes just as susceptible as writers are to hurtful rejection. I'm pretty sure Janet is the only agent I follow, and only because back when I was new to twitter and it was all fun and games, I tweeted general nonsense to her because she seemed like a fun person and she replied. Little did I know... ;)

I mostly follow other writers who I think are clever or smart or share my weird sense of humour. For me, it's about making friends who help hold back the encroaching dark edges of loneliness that comes with being a writer. Most agents, sort of by definition, don't seem to fit that role. Can't imagine following a bunch of them. But that might just be me.

I don't spend as much time on twitter these days and don't really recommend anyone follow me. Because I *do* have a weird sense of humour and I'm likely to be profane or just say something weird late at night when I'm exhausted and brain-dead from writing. And sometimes I forget myself and say political things. Mostly I lurk and read links to news and science and publishing. But if that appeals, I'm @KD_James. Probably I'll follow you back. I eventually talk to people I follow, so, y'know, fair warning.

Did anyone else read #FusterCluck several times before realizing it was not, in fact, #ClusterFuck?

DeadSpiderEye said...

Rejection is no big deal, it's some person exercising their own volition; volition that just happens to diverge from your own goals. Rejectionszzzzzz, that's a little trickier to deal with.

Sarah said...

I did unfollow an agent I queried once, but only after I realized that this particular agent wasn't going to be a good match for me. Rookie mistake following ALL THE AGENTS, I guess. ;)

Scott G said...

I agree 100% with Panda in Chief's last post. I'm a newborn to Twitter, so I'm still trying to figure it out, but that's exactly how I handle my account (except for the part about pics and vids of baby pandas).

And manners count, in everything.

So I"m still trying to figure out how to make my tweets more interesting, so others deem it worthwhile to follow me. I'm not succeeding, so far, but I do think as a whole the concept is worthwhile, as long as it is used for spreading good, positive messages.

And people use proper manners, of course.

Colin Smith said...

I'm still trying to figure out how to get literary agents to follow me on Twitter. I've tried humor and being interesting. I think it's come down to bribery now... ;)

Dena Pawling said...

Here's what it says at the top of my blog:

Twitter: @denapawling - I retweet interesting/humorous legal and military news

If you follow me, I generally follow back unless you are (1) a porn site, (2) want me to buy more twitter followers, or (3) someone who makes my skin crawl. I mute most of my follow-backs, especially people who tweet a LOT. I don't mute if your feed is interesting or I recognize your handle.

As of right now, no agents follow me, but then I don't expect most of them to be interested in legal and military news.

BJ Muntain said...

Julie: If you're contemplating doing away with your 'personal' account anyway, why not just make it your Julie Weathers writer account? You may need to go into the list of people you follow and unfollow some, but why throw away the followers you have now?

Just curious. And I may have taken this the wrong way. It's been a long day, and my brain stopped working hours ago.

Craig: He's not dead yet!!! I hope. Last I heard, he was stable and recovering... (Thanks for being a good sport. :) )

And the visiting newborns when you're sick? Yeah. Don't do that. Don't visit old people, people with cancer, or other people with low immunity, either. When I get sick, one of the things I worry about most (and I am a worrier) is that I'll make someone else even sicker than I am.

Unknown said...

This is probably classic woodland creature, but I was reluctant to follow any agents on twitter -- until I signed with an agent. I guess I didn't want to come across as overly familiar (as I said, classic woodland creature!). I still only follow a few agents -- and only rarely interact directly -- but do enjoy reading and sharing their posts.

Unknown said...

I follow a bunch of agents on Twitter, and a few follow me back, including agents who have rejected my manuscript. (I assume their rejections were business decisions. Most of them congratulated me when I signed with my agent.) I congratulate them on sales and new clients and occasionally retweet or comment. Why? Because we are all part of the publishing world, and as a bookseller I learned that it is a very small world. People might disappear for a bit, but they always resurface somewhere. Best not to burn any bridges. But more importantly, agents are readers and book lovers. They can't possibly sign every single writer whose book they like and find interesting, but that doesn't mean they won't buy a copy someday or be happy for a writer who finds the right agent. I like to think the best of people.

Her Grace, Heidi, the Duchess of Kneale said...

The professional attitude: It's not how many books you've sold or how many readers you've got. It's how you behave in spite of those numbers.

Her Grace, Heidi, the Duchess of Kneale said...

I don't tweet every day. Too much to do in my life. Also, insomnia once taught me that Twitter is only interesting at 2am WAST. During my daytime, it's rather boring.

Anyone who wants to follow me can, but I hope they're following me because I'm interesting.

I do not automatically re-follow. I don't see why. I did have one rather amateurish tw*it scold me once because I didn't follow zem back. It was as if they expected me to do so. Told me it was good manners.

Oh really? (Lessons from zem on 'good manners'?)

I only follow people with the potential for being interesting. Dude, you were not it.

I'll interact with people if they're being interesting. It's not that hard to catch my interest.

As an Escapist author, I will avoid your political rantings, your hate-mongering, your blatant rants.

Post pictures of cats. I love that.

Meanwhile, every once in a while, tell me you've got a book out. Points for being clever about it.

Julie Weathers said...


I have about 1,700 followers. Less now that I have been blocking some people including some nut calling for the destruction of zionists. However, there are a lot of interesting people there who are not any way related to publishing, the vast majority who would probably not migrate well to a new account. About a dozen actors and singers/bands, no, not sure how I acquired them, but I do interact with them and like them.

Several politicians, (yes, some are interesting to talk to) including some foreign ones I enjoy visiting with, particularly the British guys.

Lots of journalists and reporters, one weather broadcaster in California. No idea how she popped up, but she's sweet. I haven't heard from her in a while. I don't know if she's still around. Most of the other journalists are. I still exchange with them.

LOTS of military people and law enforcement, vets, SEALS, rangers, a few ex CIA, some sheriffs, etc.


A lady race car driver. I did a story on her. She still has my son's name on one of her cars I think along with many other vets. Another car race team. The lady is funny and inspiring.

It will just be easier to migrate my writing people to a new account. Hopefully, not too many agents will notice I have unfollowed them on what will be the personal account and am refollowing them on what will be the writing account. I may have to change my name on the personal account so it isn't confusing.

I had trouble unfollowing Lauren MacLeod just yet in case I missed her on the new account. "Laird of the Clan MacLeod. Feminist. Red Sox enthusiast. Chef's wife. Dachshund minder." I love her description.

I won't be refollowing every agent.

Heidi, I don't auto refollow either, which I have been told is rude. Oh, well.

I really don't mind if people don't follow me or if they think I'm boring and unfollow me.

Julie Weathers said...

The new twitter account is @J_M_Weathers. Look for the sorrel horse.

BJ Muntain said...

Julie - good reasons. :)

When Twitter first began, there weren't nearly as many people on there. I followed anyone writing or publishing-related. I made a few friends from there. Sean Cranbury, the social media guru, got his start around the same time, so we followed each other. We often say 'hi' at Surrey.

And then the waves came. Suddenly I was inundated with writers - published, unpublished, self-published, never-to-be-published... Nope. I don't mind if they follow me, but I won't follow back unless a) I find them very interesting, b) we've interacted and they seem like worthwhile interactors, or c) I know them from elsewhere.

Folks can follow me at @BJMuntain. If I don't follow you back, please let me know who you are and how I know you, and I *will* follow you back.

Julie Weathers said...


I know. When going through the writing part I was astounded at how many people are following me I really don't know. I've picked them up because of the twitter contests mostly, I think. It's going to be difficult to migrate some of them, but I need to divorce the two lives.

Even with the people I genuinely like and find interesting, it can be overwhelming.

I have so much going on twitter I can't keep up with the things I do want to see. Mainly, I want to make sure I have the Reiders and Books and Writers people. Others who have been with me for a long time.

Panda in Chief said...

Same here. I don't automatically refollow. You have to be interesting, fun, a Reider, an SCBWI member, or post good cat and panda pics.

Angelica R. Jackson said...

LOL, if I had unfollowed every agent after rejection, I would have missed out on a lot of great conversations later! The number of agents who have said "no" greatly outnumber the single "yes" (and the Yes and I no longer speak, after we parted ways).

I do admit to paying closer attention to an agent's feed when they had my materials, but that's just human nature--on some level, you're hoping to see something specific enough to let you assume it's about your novel, and an impending offer. Like "OMG, I must have this MG zombie space pigs epic!"

AJ Blythe said...

Coming in late, so there's probably no-one left to read this. But I have followed those of you here you have posted their twitter handles (thanks).

@CaitieF I'm grateful you did post this and that it did become a thing. I've seen this sort of behaviour in fellow writers and they've pooh-poohed the idea the agent will notice... I'll happily point out your tweet and comment in the future =)

JEN Garrett said...

I guess it depends how/why you use twitter. I follow people because I like their tweets. I unfollow people whom I think are bots or spammers. "Buy my book" and "cover reveals" are not generally interesting to me, but I'll let a few slide. If you have a lot of tweets I don't like, I might mute or unfollow.

Yes, I follow agents. Some of them even rep what I write. But unfollow because of rejection? That's ridiculous!