Monday, June 11, 2012

Good Behaviour


- Beware of what you put online.

Writers often want feedback on their writing and the internet is a fantastic resource for this. It’s also a place where people can share opinions, express themselves and explore new elements with relative safety. However once something is on the internet, it’s pretty much forever.

Some people will post their entire novel online—only to find copies of that early draft still cropping up years after they thought they deleted it. I’ve had writers tell me something became impossible to sell, because of this, and there are rumours of manuscripts (usually short stories) being stolen and plagiarized.

You should also be wary of what opinions you express online. Having a webpage that is dedicated to certain alternative cultures may scare a publisher away. It’s not wise to advertise your swingers club if you want to write children’s books, for example. And as with recent new stories about employees/employers and controversial facebook photos, drunken puke shots can hurt your reputation. As can rants, tirades and heat-of-the-moment retaliation to bad reviews or trolls.

How we chose to conduct ourselves online is personal and our own business, but it is still a public domain. My personal guidelines are as follows:

1. If someone hurts my feelings or makes me mad, I wait at least two hours before responding. Preferably 24. Likewise, even minor updates are sat on for two hours, just so I can make sure those ‘hilarious’ jokes are still funny after the moment has passed.

2. I never post a full work online. Even when I am emailing people work for feedback—there is only one person in my life who gets full novels. My rule of thumb is no more than 10% in public and no more than 50% to friends or critique partners.

Just remember, you can never ever take it back when it’s online. If you don’t want your children, grandmother and boss to see it, keep it offline.

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