Saturday, July 27, 2019

clean underpants

Ok, the real title of this post should be  Clean Underwear, but I think the word underpants is so hilarious, I use it whenever I can.  This probably tells you more than you want to know about me.

The blog post title derives from Mom's advice: always wear clean underwear cause you don't want the ER nurses to see your skanky drawers if you get hit by a bus.

The query letter equivalent of clean underpants is all the stuff  that isn't about your book.

1. Your email.
Calling yourself HotpantsHoney212 is obviously not the way to go.

But what about FurBabyMom?

Or Nettie718? (My sisters were DELIGHTED to find a long dead great-grandmama named Janet, who was called Nettie by her family. Me, not so much.)

Not terrible, but not professional.
You want to be taken seriously here. Present a serious face to the world. That doesn't mean leave your sense of humor at home. Far from it.

But use your name if you can.

2. Your social media bio.
Did you call yourself a wannabe writer?
A newbie?
Call yourself a writer.
Say New to the #WritingCommunity if you want to connect that way.
But there's no law that says you have to announce your newness.

3. Your website
Do you have images of typewriters, feather pens?
No No NO. Not even if you write historical fiction.

If you don't have images of you, or your books, use images of where you live, or your dog/cat/alligator.  (Maybe Chicago will let you have Chance the Snapper)

4. Your business cards.
Are they cute?
Get new ones.
Unless you're an illustrator and it is YOUR art.

Or you write about unicorns and the image is of your book cover.

In other words, cute if you own it, but you can't rent it or lease it.

Make sure you get new ones AFTER you get a new email address.

4. Woefully outdated social media posts
If your last tweet was 2012, or you haven't blogged since 2013, or anything on your social media sites isn't current, either fix it (ie update, and continue to post) or take it down.

The only thing worse than no social media presence is one that screams "I don't wanna do this, and you can't make me."

There's a LOT in publishing that isn't under your control.
The face you present to the world IS.

Any questions?


E.M. Goldsmith said...

I'm scared. It's a lot.

*orders new business cards*

LynnRodz said...

I like underpants better than underwear too and mum always said to wear clean ones just in case.

Good list, but alas there's so much more to publishing than writing a great story. *sigh*

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

My grandmother's best friend Jewel never wore underpants until the taxi she was riding in got hit by a bus. They had to take her out the back window of the car with all her glory in full view. After that incident she was a campaigner for underpants. Actually girdles became her favorites.

LynnRodz said...

Omg, 2Ns, thanks for the laugh!

julie.weathers said...

Oh, 2Ns that's hilarious, but not for poor Jewel. I used to tell my boys all the time the old saw, "Wear clean underwear in case your in an accident."

One day Cody said, "Mom, if I'm in an accident, I'm sure my shorts won't be clean."

Regardless, they did go out of the house in clean clothes.

OK, I'm going down the checklist. Goodie.

Email. name in various forms, but I'm changing from one that seems to have security problems to another one that probably has security issues too. No, not gmail. I despise that evil empire.

Speaking of evil, I need a doughnut.

2. Nope, not a newbie. I collected a check for 25 years slinging words. I'm a writer. Does that mean I can write fiction? Damn straight. Hey, if I don't believe, who will?

On the downside, there's a downside to this we shant discuss.

3. No feather pens? Ever? Well, I guess it's a good thing I upgraded my website. I didn't want to. My friend who did the class on building websites dragged me into it kicking and screaming, but I am so glad she did. I understand it now because I very much, very hands on helped create it. I know how it works and how to play with it. I don't fear the silly thing. Now to just get more blog posts up and old blog posts straightened up.

Then get my kitchen done and start experimenting with the recipes.

I have big plans for you darling website.

I'll be doing some podcast interviews as soon as I get that figured out.

4. I did business cards with a picture of the woman from the mock Rain Crow cover on my website and the "Sometimes spies wear crinolines" tag on it, plus pertinent info.

5. I'm in the process of shutting down my main twitter and moving to @JulieMWeathers if anyone is interested. I have around 2,500 followers on the main one, but a lot of them are very political and I'm trying to get away from it. The other one is my author twitter. I probably still won't be able to escape politics, but I'm going to try. Alas, it's going to take a while to build up from 40 followers to anything meaningful, but so it goes.

Yes, this was a kick in the butt to get more blog posts done and do that painful twitter move. arrrrgh.

Kitty said...

I remember when Janet wrote this: **please notice I managed to go the entire blog post without mentioning underpants, which is one of my all time favorite words (Yes I am eight years old).

KariV said...

@Julie - I'll look you up and give you a follow. I love following Reefers. My Twitter is @KariVeenstra_ and I recently had to change my handle too because I had started under a pen name before deciding to publish under Kari Veenstra.

On that note, I recently accepted a publishing contract from a small press and my debut novel is set to come out Spring 2020. Yay me!!! I've since been working nose-to-grindstone to set up some of these "controllable variables."

Email - Check
Social Media - Check Both Twitter and FB up and running
Website - I have finally finished working the bugs out so my website is ready to roll.
Business Cards - This is next on my list and I have no idea where to start. Best get on it sharpish.
Social Media Posts - Thankfully I'm pretty current, although I absolutely cannot keep up with blogging, so I've decided just to put out monthly publishing updates and stick with that.

Reiders - PLEASE take this advice and have somewhere I can look you up. There have been several authors or aspiring authors I have tried to get in touch with to learn more about their books and they are like ghosts in the machine. Making it easy for readers (and agents/editors/publishers) to find you is a sign of how serious you are about this whole writing thing.

Brenda said...


I love to ask my Irish son-in-law if he needs new pants. Over there that’s underwear.


julie.weathers said...

I just received an email from the lady and friend who did the class on websites I took. Bless her, she's such a saint. She's dong a class on indie publishing now, marketing etc. BUT, next month is her social media class again that is solid gold. I'll probably take it as much as I hate social media. I know, Janet has just reminded us all, that it's important.

I'm not going to mention names here. I don't want to advertise stuff, though I guess I just did, but the platform is reputable as is the teacher. Contact me and I'll put you in touch.

Joseph and I have taken classes there before. It's safe.

julie.weathers said...


Thanks. Followed you on the new account. I used Vista to do my cards. It was easy to design with them. They did a great job and were affordable. The local printing company was going to be several times as much.

Dena Pawling said...

At the risk of TMI, I once had a bowel issue which necessitated me removing my underwear in the bathroom at the courthouse in downtown Los Angeles. As luck would have it, I was wearing a skirt. I went thru the entire day walking with the tiniest steps possible. And aggressively arguing a motion in front of a hardnosed judge. I did win, but it was unsettling.

Email address – name. Check
Social media bio - “writer”. Check
Website – well right now all I have is a blog. It has a background layout of books/bookcase. Website is on the radar for 2020. My twitter has a header photo of the historic courthouse in Riverside CA, which is a gorgeous courthouse inside and out.
Business cards – the ones I have say “attorney at law”. Writer cards is also on the radar for 2020.
Social media posts – blog post every Monday. Check. Tweets every day. Check. No Facebook. I'll only do that one if it's absolutely required. Yuck.

Janet – thanks for the revision-set-two. The MC boy is 1stPOV. For Smudge, I've tried 1stPOV and 3rdPOV. In her world, Smudge's people don't talk, they flash thoughts with their minds. This makes for some fun story scenes on Earth, but because she doesn't think in words, 1stPOV sounds really odd to me. But I'll try it again and also with some beta readers and see if it's just me.

Sharyn – if/when you need beta readers, I hope you'll consider me!

KariV – congrats!

Laura Stegman said...

Janet, thank you for the reminder to use the word writer in our social bios. I can't believe I forgot that "little" detail until now.

KariV, Sharyn and Dena, I write MG too, if you'd like to connect about Beta reading.

On Twitter I follow as many Reef dwellers as I can identify from their @ names here. Mine is @laurastegman

Katja said...

Any questions? Oh yes:

I note that today your mother is 'Mom' & not 'Mum' (you're the first American I have seen using 'Mum' and I have seen you using it MORE than once!). Obviously I'm intrigued as to why your mum is different from all the others in America, and I also know you won't tell us ;), so the only thing we know about your mum (apart from her liking for clean underwear) is her birthday (14th September).

Moving on:

1) email address: I do have a professional email address that shows my name properly but using THIS account right now shows me as 'Katja' which I find is more modest and friendly for the Reef :).

3) website: I don't have any typewriter or feather pen pictures, no - I DO have a picture of myself AND my book. Yay!
But: WHY no typewriters/feather pens? I absolutely LOVE photography and could imagine having typewriters or feathers in front of my lens! So why not. PLEASE explain.

4) business cards: okay, mine aren't cute. Not really. And if they are, YES they're my art work but I'm not an illustrator. But they do fit my cover.

5) Here I would love to give a shout out to Kathy Joyce. KATHY, I AM MISSING YOU on Twitter and/or HERE! Your last tweet is from April 14. I sent you a DM a few days ago. I hope you're OK!

KariV, congratulations! Well done, YOU! Also, you CAN look me up. My website is linked to my name here :).

Carolynn - good one!

John Davis Frain said...

Way to go, Kari, way to go! Bop, bop.

That's fantastic news. Spring 2020 will be here before you know it. All that time to get the next one ready. Oh yeah, and get all that social media in order. Congrats.

julie.weathers said...


Congratulations. I am thrilled for you. Reading comprehension for the win. I misread that.

Dena Pawling said...

Laura S - twitter followed. email sent.

Y'all - I've beta-read Kari's novel. It's awesome! I definitely recommend keeping it on your radar for pre-order.

Amy Benoit said...

Preach it!
Thanks for your honesty and direction.

Lennon Faris said...

I am wondering the same thing as Katja about the website pics.

Do typewriter pics & feather pens (,etc.) look amateur? Overdone? Presumptuous? Outdated? Usually I nod right along with these posts, sometimes take little notes. For this category, I have no idea.

Kari, congratulations! Be sure to keep the Reef updated.

Leslie said...

Mucho congrats, KariV -- I hope you had a festive celebration!

As for business cards, I cannot recommend VistaPrint enough. Look for discount codes (either Google or relentless TV commercials), and it becomes even less expensive for decent cards. I used their templates for my cards (glossy black background with white text) and they arrived in less than a week.

The email I use for everything business-related (from book stuff -- queries, interview requests -- to paying my bills and getting notifications from my many doctors) is my first name and last name @ gmail. I have another fun one for fun stuff. My website is just my first and last names dot com.

Katja, I assume the no typewriter or feather pen pics is because they've become cliches.

KariV said...

Thanks for the congrats, all. Exciting changes on the horizon for sure.

@Dena - thanks for the vote of confidence. Seeing your entry on yesterday's first lines mark-up made me want to read your story all over again too.

Adele said...

I'm wondering about the typewriter and quill pen prohibition, too. My guess is, too twee? Or is it frustration with the typewriter/pen referencing the mechanics of what an author does (record words) rather than who the author is?

I recently interviewed with an ultra-hip employment agency, and I even had trouble understanding what they were saying. They don't get you jobs and more - they don't even send you on assignments. No, they "refer" you to "roles". Or possibly it was "rolls"; I'm not sure.

So I get that urban society has outstripped my frame of reference. I am trying to regroup. Yes to a picture of a rock, no to a picture of a pen. OK. Whatevs.

Adele said...

...don't get you jobs any more. Sheesh. Can't even type.

Katja said...

I'm unable to settle on the no-typewriter-no-feather pen-pictures just because they're clichés. Clichés aren't always THAT bad, are they? If you plaster your whatever-you-do with them, well okay, then yes.

But wouldn't a painter put brushes and palettes on their site? A baker cakes, flour and an old mill, maybe? Something they work with and something they don't any more (counterpart of the feather pen)?

If things writers work with or relate to are a no-no, then please no cat pictures either (sorry for this unlikable opinion - I'm just trying to make my point ;) ), because almost 100% of the people I have met here or on Twitter who write do have CATS! Isn't that a cliché?

If there were only a couple of images of typewriters or pens available, then YES, I would agree. But there must be millions that look different.

We shouldn't put books or images of book shelves up on our site then. Cause it's the same thing, right? On my site, there is a picture of MY book. But you can't tell it is mine. Plus, I've taken it in black and white. It could be anyone's but it's mine. It's just as much a cliché as a typewriter and a feather pen, and still I am not going to take it off. I LOVE it.

I do see Adele's point, however. If the typewriters cover up who the author is, then we should reconsider :). This could be a good point. Maybe THE point.

AJ Blythe said...

And in Australia we wear undies.

2Ns and Dena, you've both cracked me up.

I have a pen name email address for querying, my normal email is my first and middle names. Otherwise I think everything else is ok.

My website has an open book on the header under my name. Hoping that isn't too cliche. The main banner is definitely branded to me though. I love my litle corner of cyberspace so I hope it works because I'm rather attached to how it looks now.

Beth Carpenter said...

Kari V, that's great news! I've been happy with Vistaprint as well for business cards and for bookmarks. Mine have a picture, partly so I can give to people who know me by my real name and can't remember my pen name.

NLiu said...

Well, in the UK we wear pants. Which makes Jeff Somers a little more scandalous than he is already.

Kari, Laura, I added you on Twitter. I am @ nicola_ liu_ .

What's the deal with having to post on Twitter every day by the way? Is it to do with the way the way the algorithm selects whether anyone sees what you post? I notice that if I don't post for a bit (holidays, babies getting sick) then I do post, for the next few days, only 75 or so people see anything. I have several times more followers than that.

I started a mailing list this week after finally taking Janet's advice from a while back. As far as I can see, no one has signed up yet, but it's there on my Twitter looking all shiny and keen.

Now I "only" have to write a query that works. And revise the whole book again. Sigh.

April Mack said...

I've been seeing the advice lately to not even bother having business cards, as they are outdated. How necessary are business cards these days, in your opinion?

Sharyn Ekbergh said...

Hi Dena,

I'm beta reading and commenting back and forth with Richelle these days but would love to add you when I get more done on this story. And I'm happy to read yours!

I was writing an adult mystery that wasn't working and discovered my natural voice and viewpoint seems to be that of a 13 year old. So I went back to one of my earlier stories that I just liked and wanted to finish. It's more fun.

I noticed when I clicked on a number of the names here at the Reef that many people don't even have a contact email linked to their blogger profile. What if you write something great on the Reef and someone wants to contact you? Or another Reider? Or an agent? I think the first step is to make sure you can be contacted easily. And if you can get your name as a dot com I recommend doing that, it is not expensive.

My social media pages are outdated but I am planning on revamping everything this fall. After I enjoy August writing on the porch.

Clicking on my name should get you to my email link!

Casual-T said...

My wife always laughs at me when I use the word “underpants, " which I do quite unapologetically. (My wife laughs a lot!)

1. I often wonder if Casual-T is the best way to introduce myself to literary folks. All of my online presence (website, email, etc.) is based on that name, and I’ve been using it as my stage name for more years than I care to tally up. Some people love it, others not so much – Wondering about this one.

2. Definitely calling myself a writer. Whether I actually feel like a writer (or just like a hack with a semi-functional typewriter) depends on the weather – I guess that counts as a check.

3. Pictures of myself and books (and drums) on website – Check!

4. Got snazzy business cards with my own art and to-the-point contact info – Check! (Just need to find some agents to give them to)

5. This one sadly hits the nail on the hardhat (safety first!). I am so very disgusted with social media, and have let my various accounts lay dormant for a very long time – What to do, what to do?

PAH said...

I'm pretty sure this goes here.

Alyssa R said...

There have been times I've wished my email address were more interesting. Now I'm glad the email my mom gave me when I was 6 is just my name, no bells or whistles.

Happy New Year, everyone!