Posted by: Trisha Leigh | March 23, 2011

If You Can’t Say Anything Nice…Step Away From the Keyboard

There’s been a lot of talk on the interwebs lately about what we can say, should say, and will cause us to be blackballed by the mythical mafia/publishing gods if we do say. By “we” I mean aspiring authors, agented authors, contracted authors, reviewers, bloggers, and plain old tweeters.

I’ll be the first one to admit I often cross the line of appropriateness. For me, it’s not a question of bashing people – something I don’t believe in doing* – but more a question of oversharing.

I talk about sweat, and stink, and post pictures of my blistered and bloodied feet. Yeah. That was gross, although to be fair I did place a disclaimer on that particular tweet.

I’ve been thinking more about my “online persona” lately as my agent and I get closer and closer to submitting my book to editors. After all, In the Autumn is Young Adult, and it’s a pretty clean one at that. There’s no cursing and almost no sexual situations. Not because I have a problem with those things, but simply because they have no place in this particular story.

I follow a lot of crime writers, mystery writers, and romance authors on Twitter, and sometimes it’s hard to remember they cater to a very different audience than my book will attract. Maybe I shouldn’t fill my tweet streem with the innuendo and cleverly worded filth that might endear a romance author to her readers. Cursing freely might work fine for a gritty author of crime or mystery novels, but not so much for me. I’m going to have to clean up my Twitter act, at least a little. Or change genres.

The one piece of advice that I believe works for anyone marketing themselves or a product online (and let’s face it, authors, we all are, or we should be) is this: be positive. Meredith Barnes (@mer_bear) of Fine Print Lit posted an insightful series of blogs recently on this topic, and you can read them here.

There are 3 reasons I unfollow people on Twitter:

  1. You never tweet, or fail to @reply at least some of the time.
  2. Your tweet stream is full of nothing but information about your books, signings, events, sales, reviews, characters, etc. Yes, I want to know when your book is coming out, and a retweet of an occasional review or appearance isn’t going to make me click that button to rid my Twitter of your presence. That said, your stream should also consist of plenty of interaction – and not just with your friends.
  3. You’re extremely negative. You crab about your day job, your family, your writing life, not having an agent, not having a book deal, or how publishing in general is out to get you. Your life sucks, I get it. Everyone’s life sucks from time to time, and to be hoenst, I spend enough time dealing with my own suckage, self-doubt, and negative feelings. I don’t have time for yours, and I don’t need your negativity harshing my mellow. Man. Disclaimer: Everyone has bad days, and is certainly entitled to sporadic venting. If we chat on Twitter every day and spend most of our time teasing, laughing, or encouraging one another, I’m not going to begrudge you those days when there’s nothing happy to tweet about. 99% of the time, though, those issues are for real life friends and alcohol, not the internet.

The bottom line is this – if you’re on Twitter, Blogger, Tumblr, etc with the intention of marketing, you need to consider what image you’re putting out there. I’m going to be making some changes too, though it pains me to have to clean up my act. It’s necessary.

If you all want to experience the awesome, inapproprate, bawdy Trish, we’ll have to hang out in the non-virtual world.

*While I don’t believe in bashing an author or book in a mean, unhelpful way, there is a time and place where expressing an honest opinion is appropriate. I helped a 13yo write a book review the other day, and she felt nervous about giving it only 3 stars. I explained that if she had intelligent, well thought out issues with how certain elements of plot or character didn’t work for her, then she should include them. Being mean is wrong (ex: Stephenie Meyer is a terrible writer). Having a smart opinion is not (ex: Stephenie Meyer could have strengthened my connection with Bella in the Twilight series by increasing her inner conflict over leaving her family and future behind to spend her life with Edward).**

**These are merely examples. I devoured Twilight too quickly to pick it apart. I just wanted you to know that, Stephenie, in case you want to blurb my book in a few years.

For myself, and for other aspiring authors who will one day be asking peers to help us with promotion, blurbs, etc, I advocate the age old favorite of mothers everywhere, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

What I’m watching right this minute: Disney’s Robin Hood – a contender for my all time favorite Disney!




  1. As an author with a new book out in three weeks (!), I tweet a few times a day, but almost never about myself but instead about the topic of my book, a memoir, which is working retail. The challenge is that almost no one else talks about retail from that POV, that of the low-level associate.

    I’m focused more on blogging for the moment. Not sure tweeting, for me, is the best avenue to capture audience.

    I agree that constant bitching is really boring. I’m surprised to hear anyone would tweet such garbage.

    • Hi, and congrats on your imminent book release, that’s so exciting!! You’d be surprised what people tweet if you spent more time on Twitter, probably. Best of luck!

  2. I love inappropriate, bawdy Trish! 🙂 But really, this is good advice. We all need to find a balance with respect to our online sharing.

    • You do a wonderful job of hiding your extra fun side on Twitter, too 😉

  3. A most excellent post, full of common sense (which, sadly, isn’t as common as the name implies).

    It’s a good thing I write the kind of books I write, considering some of the things I’m known to tweet and blog about. None of my future readers should be too shocked. 😉

    • I am jealous of the fact you can tweet about whatever you wish, believe me. Why is something rare called common sense? Such a mystery.

  4. Wait, does this mean no more tweets about three-ways and missing pants? 🙂


    P.S. Excellent point, of course. I can be as risque as I want, and in fact, sometimes do it on purpose just to warn potential readers that if they’re offended by jokes about vibrators, they’re not likely to enjoy my romantic comedies.

    • I, for one, can’t wait to read your book(s). I hope you’ll still want to read mine even though no one loses their pants. Not once. 🙂

  5. GREAT post, Trisha. I agree with everything.

    • Love you. Blog more. Also, tweet more. I demand it.

  6. These are great points and really, the same reasons I un-follow on Twitter. It’s hard to decide where the line should be drawn when being YOU and being YOU (the writer).

    • I know. In order to get people to want to connect with you the writer, you need to reveal a certain amount of you the person. That line is sometimes hard to see until you plant a foot on the wrong side. Thanks for the comment!

  7. Great points, Trisha. I think it’s hard because even though we write YA, we’re obviously not always *thinking* that way. Twitter is great for building a platform, but it’s also a great place to meet and converse with people. I guess the only solution for being able to tweet whatever you want and not worry about offending anyone would be to have a personal account with protected tweets, and another one to promote your writing. But I personally (at this point, anyway) would rather not have to do that. One thing readers connect to, in my opinion, is an author’s personality — and experiencing their quirky thoughts and whatnot helps spark that connection.

    As for unfollowing people, I don’t do it very often, but when I do, it’s usually because I’ve been offended by something someone’s said (little side note here… it takes a lot to offend me). I may get a little bent when someone doesn’t acknowledge a tweet directed at them, but that usually doesn’t make me stop following them. =)

    • I definitely don’t unfollow for not answering a single tweet I direct at you. If I’ve been following you for some time and tweeted you several times with no response, well…I’m not sure what I’m getting out of the relationship, ya know?

      My mind is definitely not always “YA” but I don’t want the hassle of more than one account. I think I can walk the tightrope. At least, I’m gonna try. Thanks for the comment!

  8. Trisha, I invite you or anyone else to follow my extremely positive and helpful posts at @coreyjpopp. 🙂 Already following you!

  9. I located your blog using google and I must say, this is among the best well written articles I have viewed in a long time.

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