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Are You Being Too Transparent?

Have you seen the show Blue Bloods? Great show—I mean, how can it not be with Tom Selleck? Do I hear an amen??—that focuses on solid family connections and deals with tough, current issues. The most recent episode made me sit back and go, “Wow. I needed that reminder.” So I’m going to share the gist with you, because it’s something we all need to keep in mind.

In the show, Tom Selleck plays Frank Reagan, the police commissioner of NY. His father was the commish before him. His eldest son is a detective, his daughter a D.A., and his youngest son a policeman. In the episode, “Loose Lips,” the daughter of Selleck’s D.A. daughter is turned down by the college of her choice after they discover Tweets from her saying hateful things about one of her teachers. Then  Selleck’s dad, the former commissioner, is at an event having a private conversation with a friend, telling him how they did things in his day. As you can guess, it’s not politically correct. Unfortunately, a waiter records the conversation on his smart phone, then posts the video online—and all H.E. double hockey sticks breaks loose.

So what does that have to do with us? Just this: thanks to social media, it’s never been easier to share our thoughts and opinions about the world with the world—or to have other people share them. I enjoy using social media to share what’s going on in my life and to keep up with others—like my younger brother and his family who are at Disneyland as I write this. However, like the girl on Blue Bloods, I’ve been known to post a rant or two. And what I realized watching the show was that we writers too often lack something important with social media that we have with writing…

Editors.

Those people who read what we’ve written, then help us make sure it’s not only well written but that we’re not saying things in a way that can hurt others. Or ourselves.

I can’t count the times I’ve read posts, tweets, pins, blogs and so on that blast frustration and anger. I’ve seen it from Christians talking about other Christians, from congregants talking about churches, from authors taking about publishing and/or and the people in publishing, from people talking about how much they hate their jobs or bosses or spouses or politicians or…whatever. I can guarantee you that people who are considering you for something–be it a job, a publishing contract, a writing opportunity, as a writer they want to read—will check you out through social media. So ask yourself: “After reading what I put out there, will these people want to have anything to do with me?”

Yes, we want to be transparent and honest, to share our struggles and joys, but let me give you a caution that my father whispered to me long ago—one, frankly, that I keep whispering to myself:

Not every thought that comes into your mind needs to be shared.

Especially not in a public forum like social media.

Because, my friends, once you put something out there, your words can gain a life of their own. And if they’re angry, hateful words, there’s just no taking them back. Not even by deleting them. And the hard truth is that what we write often doesn’t reflect so much on the object of our posts as it does on us.

And the Lord we serve.

 

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2014 Bestseller List – Exciting New Developments!

A little over a year ago I explored the issue of best-seller lists for Christian books (“The Mystery of the Bestseller List”). However, in the last thirteen months, much has changed. The New York Times is adding some new niche-lists to their collection, which will affect Christian titles. A company …

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Justin Beiber and Leisure Suits

Recognizing the difference between a cultural “trend” and a “phenomenon” is an important skill of anyone working in book publishing, both employees of publishers and authors. Why? Because book publishing in virtually every form does a very poor job responding to a phenomenon, which is generally short-lived. Often a phenomenon …

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Is it Possible to Read Too Much?

Amidst all the public voices and rhetoric swirling around these days is a healthy focus on the need to make reading more a part of every life.  From celebrities sponsoring reading campaigns to Amazon providing pre-loaded Kindles to schools in Africa through their Worldreader  program, it is a good thing …

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8 Things Authors Should No Longer Ask Their Publisher

Publishing is changing faster than ever before.  Book publishers have been wrenching to find new business models that make them more flexible, efficient and adaptable to the realities of the digital publishing age. Within this fast-change world, another group who has felt the pain of shifting tectonic plates are authors …

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It’s Not Who You Know

From the third season of the 90’s sitcom Seinfeld, this classic interchange: Car Rental Agent: I’m sorry, we have no mid-size available at the moment.  Jerry: I don’t understand, I made a reservation, do you have my reservation? Agent: Yes, we do, unfortunately we ran out of cars. Jerry: But …

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Bestselling Books in 1974

Starting today, and every six months, we are going to take a ride in the “way-back” machine (with special acknowledgment to Mr. Peabody and Sherman), traveling back in time to grab a snapshot of what books were selling on a particular date and year. To get an idea where publishing …

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Actually, The World is Pretty Big

At one time or another, every one of us have remarked how small the world is, usually caused by meeting someone by chance and finding out that you both know a certain person, or went to school with the person, are both reading the same books, are fans of the …

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Book Proposals I’d Love to See

By God’s will and pleasure, during my career as a literary agent I have been successful in representing authors writing Christian romance, Christian and general market trade book fiction, and Christian nonfiction. My interests have changed very little since my first blog post for The Steve Laube Agency, “Happy to Be …

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How Do You Measure Success?

by Steve Laube

A few years ago while talking to some editors they described an author who was never satisfied (not revealing the name of course). It this author’s latest book had sold 50,000 copies the author wondered why the publisher didn’t sell 60,000. And if it sold 60,000 why didn’t it sell 75,000? The author was constantly pushing for “more” and was incapable of celebrating any measure of success.

Recently there has been much ink spilled on whether Indie authors are better of than authors published by traditional publishers. Pundits have laid claim to their own definition of a successful book using number, charts, and revealed earnings. Following this dialogue can be rather exhausting.

I understand the desire to measure whether or not my efforts are successful. It is a natural instinct. If it is any indication, one of our most popular blog posts has been “What are Average Book Sales?” with thousands of readers.

In one way this is a wise question so that expectations can be realistic.

In another way it is unwise in that the cliff called “Comparison” is a precipitous one. I’ve talked to depressed authors who are wounded by numbers. I’ve talked to angry authors who are incensed by a perceived lack of effort by their publisher. I’ve talked to highly frustrated authors who wonder if it is all worth it.

Ultimately I can’t help but think this is all an exercise in determining a definition of success for the individual author. If you can measure it you can define it. That is as long as we know what “it” is.

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