Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Dear writers... My Top 5 Twitter Pet Peeves.


As you all know, I’m a huge fan of Twitter. It’s a fantastic platform for me to connect and interact with people who share my interests, let writers know what kind of stories I’d like to find in my inbox, and post a few writing and query tips. I have a bunch of wonderful followers, and I’m so grateful for all the tweets, love, and pictures of Zac Efron they all share with me on a daily basis. Every now and then when I check my “connect” tab, however, a groan escapes my mouth. Because there it is… one of my Twitter pet peeves… black on white.

I know the tweeters in question don’t mean anything by it, that they’re all lovely people and that it’s just thoughtlessness, but I can’t help it. The moment I read a tweet that makes it onto my Twitter pet peeve list, I judge you. I don’t want to… but I do. So many things come into play when I read a submission. The quality of the manuscript, obviously. But also how you present yourself -- in your query, but also on Twitter and/ or your website. And if you give me any reason to hesitate, be annoyed by you, or doubt your sanity, it’s bad news…

So here it is... my Top 5 of things that make my agent skin crawl on Twitter:

1)    Twitter pitches outside of an “official” Twitter pitch party. As I’ve mentioned in a previous blog post, I do like me a good Twitter pitch party. They’re hectic, crazy, and oh so awesome. Twitter pitches that aren’t part of a pitch party, however? Not so much. When there’s an official Twitter event, it’s up to me whether I want to join in or not. Depending on my schedule that day, I can pop in and out, or I can join in the evening (my time) when I’m all relaxed and comfortable on my sofa and I don’t have anything else to do except from reading your pitches. I’m prepared and focused. I’m in the right mindset for a 140-character pitch. When there isn’t such an event, there’s no guarantee I’ll take much notice of your pitch to be honest. Like most of you, I check Twitter at the most random times. When I’m in a queue, on a bus, while waiting for a friend at a café, or while talking on the phone. Do you really want to waste your (more or less) carefully crafted pitch on my less than ideal attention span? Surely not. Imagine I see your pitch and don’t like it. How do you want me to react? Ignore it? Send you a public “no thanks”? That seems far from ideal. If I ignored it, you’d always wonder if I’ve actually seen it. If I sent a public rejection, you probably wouldn’t be happy either. Right? Now imagine I see your pitch and like it. Do you want me to favourite it? Or send you a tweet saying “yes, please submit”? What if every writer out there expected that? Would I have to spend even more time on pitches and submissions? As you can see, Twitter pitches are problematic. I’m always open to submissions, I’m very vocal about my likes and dislikes… a traditional submission (according to the sub guidelines on my website) has a far better chance of a) getting the attention it deserves, b) me reading an actual sample, not just a quick pitch, and c) me perhaps telling you why it’s not for me. An uninvited Twitter pitch makes it far too easy for me to discard it without a second thought. Don’t do that to yourself. There’s a reason we have submission guidelines and submission inboxes… use them.

2)    Let me do your research for you. “How do I submit to you?”, “What genres do you represent?”, “Do you accept submission from authors outside Germany/Europe?” Happens. All. The. Time. And let me tell you... these questions show me that you’re lazy. The link to my website is in my Twitter bio and my submission guidelines on said website explain absolutely everything you need to know about submitting to me. One look at my client list will also show you that, yes, I do accept queries from US authors. I’m always happy to answer questions if something is unclear, but please don’t make me answer the same questions over and over and over again. You’re a writer, I assume you can read (or have a text-to-speech device if your vision is impaired) – prove it, read my submission guidelines before spamming me with questions you can easily answer yourself.

3)    Question my wish list. Whenever I tweet about genres or stories I’d like to find in my inbox (using hashtags like agentwishlist or MSWL), I do that to help you and myself. These wish lists, however, are not – I repeat: NOT – exclusive. They don’t mean that I don’t want to see anything else. They are merely suggestions. Suggestions to help you if you have a story like that and don’t know where to send it. Or to help you understand my likes or dislikes. Sometimes they’re random thoughts that pop into my head, and I’m all “oooh, I’d love to see THAT”. If you have a manuscript that fits into one of the genres I represent, you can always query me, whether it’s on my current wish list. There really is no need to keep tweeting me “but how about this?” or “how about that?” When I write I’d like to see an awesome psychological thriller, there is no need to ask “but what about a YA romance?” All you need to consider is this: Do I represent [your genre]? No = do not submit. Yes = feel free to submit. It really is as simple as that. (Yay!)

4)    Intentionally misinterpret my wish list. This seems to be a favourite pastime of a lot of writers on Twitter. I tweet that I’d like to see “non-traditional family structures”, you query me with a dragon family. I tweet about wanting to see a REALISTIC psychological thriller featuring a stalker, you send me a vampire story about a demon that’s a stalker (or something). I tweet that I’m not a huuuuge fan of fantasy, but it’s okay as long as it’s set in the real world… you write that I’m desperate to find a great fantasy story. Spot the mistake? Let me tell you, this is ever so slightly frustrating. It’s okay if you want to send me your material even if it’s not on my current (non-exclusive) wish list. You don’t need to twist and bend my words until they fit your story.

5)    Vague questions. “Are you interested in seeing a novel set in London?”; “How about commercial Women’s Fiction about two sisters?”; “Are you interested in a political thriller?”; “How about a Middle Grade novel about a boy?” I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know! These tweets don’t tell me anything about your book. There are probably 7 million possible premises for political thrillers, and 89 million stories that could be a Middle Grade novel about a boy. How am I supposed to know if I’m interested? As mentioned before (several times), if I represent your genre, query away. It’ll be much easier for me to tell you if I’m interested once I’ve read your query with all necessary information plus your sample pages. 

As always, I hope you know that I’m not writing these things to be evil or mean. I’m just trying to make you understand where I, as an agent, am coming from. I see some of those things so often, that I can feel my patience dwindle away at times. And I hate when that happens because it stops me from tweeting about happy things (cake, rainbow, and kittens) and acknowledging that 97% of you are absolutely awesome. So please don’t stop interacting with me on Twitter. I love your tweets, I seriously do. Unless you do one of the things I mentioned above. Then stop. Go back to start, do not pass go, do not collect $200. Instead, eat cake, look at a picture of Zac Efron, and try again.




P.S. Once you're done staring at Monsieur Eye Candy, I'd love to hear about your Twitter pet peeves. Comment away. 

14 comments:

  1. As I librarian, I get books sale pitches all the time from authors even though I'm not in charge of purchasing for my branch. If I didn't love my handle so much, I wouldn't want to put "librarian" in the title again.

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    1. Yes, that sounds tiring. Even if you were in charge of purchasing, I assume you wouldn't be too keen on all those Twitter pitches.

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    2. You're right. I can say that while I've read books from authors that I enjoy interacting with on twitter, I have never read a book from an unsolicited pitch.

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  2. Great post and excellent reminders!

    There must be something in the Twitter air lately because I posted a Top 10 Twitter Behaviors Writers Should Avoid on my blog last week. My list is lacking the delightful Zac Efron pic at the end, but does have plenty of Disney gifs to reinforce the "Don't Do" items.

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    1. Oh really? I'll have to check it out. Ah yes, I like my Zac Efron pictures. They also distract from the fact that I... cough... don't know how to use gifs.

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  3. The person who follows you, unfollows you then follows you again in case you didn't notice the first time. Yes I did notice you and I don't want to follow you.

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    1. Haha, yes! Not a fan of that either.

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    2. Yes, yes, yes to this! And here I thought they were just indecisive. :) Or when someone thanks you for the RT in a grouping with other followers, and you've never retweeted anything they posted.

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  4. When someone replies to 5-10 of my tweets in a row, including some from a long time ago. I love enthusiastic followers, but that just creeps me out for some reason...

    And when someone favorites every single tweet I'm mentioned in. Not just that I tweet, but even the ones I'm mentioned in by someone else. How do they even keep track of that??

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    1. That's where the whole "if I have to doubt your sanity" problem comes into play. ;) I could dedicate a whole blog post to writers behaving creepily (online and offline). I might save that for another time though.

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  5. When someone's Twitter feed is, "Buy my book on Amazon for 99 cents!" over and over and over...

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    1. I can't unfollow those people fast enough!

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