I feel the need to tread a little lightly here. Partly because I’m an author, partly because I’m on the fence. I recently joined Twitter (the wasting internets time tunnel everything ruin–sorry, that sounds like something from Engrish). Because of my entry point (I didn’t pick Mike Patton or Nancy Pelosi, but some of my author friends), I naturally just clicked around on some I recognized and some I’m curious about.
Oh, right, I remember now. Heather at TOR did a “send me a great paranormal romance” and I watched masochistically because mine isn’t finished. A day or so later, an agent (Colleen Lindsey) and an editorial director (Angela James) did live-ish “reviews” of query letters. Kind of like the Engrish site, now that I think of it. Except they mostly were in Engrish, that is, laughable. And I did laugh. They were generally not quoted directly, and certainly no names were released. Some queries received resounding thumbs up. Not many in between, but that could be because the agent and editor used the extreme ones for instructional purposes.
Harmless fun? Great instruction on writing a query? Or are these people meanies, gloating over the power they wield, rubbing their hands together, cackling, plotting to make people feel like idiots. So sayeth agent Nathan Bransford. Well, not really. He just thinks it’s not professional to participate in such reindeer games.
Hmnn. I know Ms. James in two dimensions, and I don’t think she’s mean-spirited–far from it. I follow the Swivet because she seems cool and I like her taste in books (not many agents have ever used the word Steampunk on their blogs). She could be mean-spirited, I don’t know. But this is a tough business, and she plays the “take the heat or get out of the kitchen” approach. Bransford’s online persona is verra warm and fuzzy. (Is this an East Coast/West Coast thing?)
Authors read a lot about what not to do. Very close to What Not to Wear. You try, and you wonder if you’ll be able to keep it up on your own. Good online persona. Don’t air your dirty laundry. Don’t say anything bad about any publisher, agent, editor, other author. Don’t be political. Don’t be nonpolitical. By all means, don’t be a Christian. Must hold m/m romance in the highest regard. Be a baked potato without salt and butter.
So what are the online persona rules for agents and editors? I learned a bit from the query pass/fail thing, but then I started feeling little twinges of hurt for a few of the authors. The ones who didn’t do their homework, or the total wackos.
What are the rules for agents and editors? Do they get a pass because they hold most of the cards? I think I’m for these query pass/fail days as instruction, perhaps with a little less joyful cackling. What about you?