mandyhubbard (mandyhubbard) wrote,

Discussion post: On Agents who Tweet Queries.

So, I'm posting this knowing it could very likely blow up in my face. But I think its a worthwhile discussion. This blog does allow anonymous comments, and you're free to post that way. Anon is screened, (always has been) but I approve anything that isn't downright rude or disrespectful to me or other commenters.

Nathan Bransford and Jessica at Book Ends LLC both recently posted about websites devoted to "poking fun" at Queries. Jessica linked, specifically, to a site known as SLUSH PILE HELL.  (Edited to add: Jill points out that Jennifer Laughran ALSO posted about this topic....)

Reading the comments, particularly on Nathan's blog, has been enlightening for me. And a little horrifying, too.

Because I tweet queries. I don't often quote the queries directly, and when i do, its often to praise something. For instance, I typically hate rhetorical questions, but there was one yesterday that nailed a tween/teen conundrum and I thought, "Whoa-- what WOULD I do if that happened?" And I quoted said Q/query. Was that wrong? A breach of confidentiality?

What about if someone's title is MEANT to be satirical and funny, and I share that, and we all laugh? Are we laughing with them-- becuase it was meant to be funny-- or at them?

Inside my  head, I am being helpful, a little silly, maybe a little entertaining. I intend to help querying writers out, not offend them, hurt them, or belittle them. And to be clear, yes, there are some agents out there who tweet queries and seem to be just plain mean-spirited. Sometimes I question the motivation of openly mocking queries. But then I wonder... am I openly mocking them? I certainly do not intend to. But then-- don't bullies usually say they are just "having a little fun"-- yet it is at someone else's expense? Becuase I don't intend that either.

But you know what they say about intentions. Anyone who has ever had to take a workplace harasssment 101 class knows that it doesn't matter what you intend. It is the perception of the "victim." 

My twitter, blog, and website are things I put out into the world and which will affect the way people perceive me. It's my public face.

It's particularly interesting for me, being both an agent and an author. The way I handled my path to publication influences the way I perceive how writers must feel. Brutal honesty and constructive criticism, and yes, even rejection, are what made me the author I am. I was never really a 'sensitive' person as a writer, but rather view(ed) my path more pragmatically.

But on the other hand, I have seen writers who were even agented who struggled so much with rejection that they quit pursuing publication all together. Could me, tweeting about queries, be that final straw?

I will say this much-- realizing how sensitive it is, if I do choose to continue tweeting queries, I'll be re-evaluating the way I tweet queries. It's fun to be "entertaining," but reading the comments in Nathan's post made me realize just how thin the line is between entertainment and mocking/cruelty.

So, what say you, writers/agents/authors? How do you feel about agents tweeting queries? Have you ever been hurt by a #queries tweet? Do you think its unprofessional-- or helpful?


This discussion has been enlightening, in more ways than one, and I'm heretofore changing my #queries policy. I will continue to use the hashtag, but I will change the way I use it. I will not be quoting any queries or citing specifics of a query. It's hard to say where "the line" is with these things, and clearly there is a variety of feelings and thoughts on the subject. The only way i can be sure NOT to cross that line is to keep things more general. I nthe future, my #queries tweets will pertain to general trends, tips, tricks, advice, etc.

And finally, as I stated on twitter-- my sincerest apologies if you ever felt demeaned or belittled by anything I may have said about your query or any #queries tweet. That was NEVER my intention but in retrospect, it is clear that some of the tweets were more mocking than helpful and that's just not fair/right.

Please do continue the discussion, though, as I think its worthwhile to hear everyone's thoughts on the topic.
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