Which Coincidence is More Unlikely?

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rosepetal720

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I got a full request from an agent in January and hadn't heard back in 9 months. I had pretty much given up on that agent. A week ago, I got in some very heated arguments with people on Twitter over a political hot topic. (I was on the conservative side.)

Today, I got a rejection saying they didn't fall in love with it.

Would it be a bigger coincidence if, after 9 months, they happened to reject me after I made those posts? Or would it be more of a coincidence if after 9 months, they just happened to check my Twitter account at the exact right moment to see something they didn't like?

Either way, I deleted the posts, and I'm both mad at myself for posting it in the first place and disgusted with myself for removing it.
 

Chris P

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Awww, I'm sorry this happened to you! The rejection and the heated exchange.

I highly doubt they are connected, however. Having heard about the time constraints agents are under, I would be very surprised if agents closely follow the Twitter accounts of authors they are considering, much less use them as the final decider in whether to sign you or not (the wisdom of being careful with what we post online aside). Yeah, it stings and it's paranoid making, but the simplest answer to the most questions is that the two aren't related.
 
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mccardey

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I think it's just a coincidence, and I also think, at this particular time, that you should go a bit easy on yourself for posting and removing posts.

Things matter and words have to be said about things that matter. And what are we, as writers, if we don't say things that have to be said? (But sometimes they have to be removed as well because Twitter can be a cesspit...)

Sending hug.
 
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litdawg

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The crash from a full request turning into a rejection triggers grief, and we try to control grief by explaining it as something we had control over. The connection between things is probably just in your mind. It's a natural, if unhelpful, response to grief. I'm sorry about the R, but you have reasons to celebrate the full request. You're doing something write to have gotten there.
 

Medazza

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The crash from a full request turning into a rejection triggers grief, and we try to control grief by explaining it as something we had control over. The connection between things is probably just in your mind. It's a natural, if unhelpful, response to grief. I'm sorry about the R, but you have reasons to celebrate the full request. You're doing something write to have gotten there.

Yes, a full request is progress for sure. Keep going!
 

Liz_V

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It probably is just a coincidence of timing.

However, there's also this: https://jetreidliterary.blogspot.com/2020/09/getting-ready-to-query-clean-up-your.html

That agent is not exactly known for being a shrinking violet; if she's vetting potential clients for things-someone-might-get-offended-about, it's a fair bet that other agents are, too. And of course, what's offensive is so very much in the eye of the beholder, and subject to change on a daily basis.

Whether/how much you want to curate your social media to accomodate that is your call; I can sympathize with being unhappy with yourself either way.
 

lizmonster

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TBF, Janet Reid didn't say "things someone might get offended about." She said:

I used to only look for people who had belligerent opinions about agents and publishing.Now, I'm looking for stuff that will get you (and by association, me) into hot water.
Sharks do not like hot water.

A non-political for instance: I follow a lot of writers on Twitter, and I tend to retweet book announcements without researching them. A few months ago I retweeted a book that, as it turns out, has some pretty major issues with plagiarism. My agent contacted me and told me what was up, and I deleted the post. I'm now much more selective about what promotional stuff I retweet.
 

Liz_V

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TBF, Janet Reid didn't say "things someone might get offended about."

Well, also TBF, I didn't put that line in quote marks.

I'll grant you the plagiarism case. But I think it's pretty clear -- and from the comments there, I'm not the only one who took it that way -- that what JR was primarily talking about was things that might trigger a cancel-culture shitstorm. Now, I also think what JR is looking for is instances of fairly extreme asshattery. But if the goal of the exercise is to avoid clients who've said anything that might stir up a cancel-mob, and considering some of the really minor or wildly-misinterpreted things that have sparked such responses, I don't think it's unreasonable to be concerned.

More to the point, commenters above were saying that agents don't use a writer's Twitter as a deciding factor in offering rep -- and here's a major agent saying that she digs into a writer's social media as part of deciding whether to offer rep. I doubt she's the only one.

Is that why the OP's full got rejected? Who knows? Books get rejected all the time for all sorts of reasons, and did so long before social media was a thing. It's entirely possible that the rejection had nothing to do with the Twitter arguments. But given the current climate, it's not entirely beyond the realm of possibility that there was a connection.
 

lizmonster

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"Cancel culture" is largely a Twitter phenomenon, and fear of it is overblown. Which is not to say the fear is irrational - just that most of us won't damage ourselves if we put our foot in it once in a while.

There's nothing wrong with posting your own views. If you're posting about something so controversial you worry it's polarizing, you probably don't want to work with an agent whose views are so different from yours anyway.

And by the way, what's good for the goose and all that. Part of my agent research this time around involved checking their social media. I took a few off the list because of that - not because I wanted to "cancel" anybody, but because it's a fairly close business relationship, and I have my own standards of compatibility.
 

Liz_V

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Largely but not exclusively. Ask Justine Sacco. Less dramatically, a friend of mine lost both his second job and his major social venue because some people were outraged!!!!! that he expressed an opinion that didn't agree with theirs. It happens.

I was going to say if this stuff would just stay on Twitter, it wouldn't be so bad, but I don't know that Amélie Wen Zhao or Kosoko Jackson would agree with that.

I look at agents' social media, too, and for much the same reason. I don't think it's an unreasonable thing for either side to take into consideration. And, let's face it, if you put something out there on the public internet, you don't get to complain about what subset of the public reads it. What concerns me about the JR post is that it doesn't sound like she's looking for things she doesn't like; it sounds like she's looking for things anybody else might not like. And what sort of thing is controversial enough to be a problem these days? What will be polarizing next week?

Again, what any individual writer chooses to do in this situation is up to them; I'm not trying to declare a manifesto here. But it's definitely something a writer should make a conscious choice about, with eyes open to the potential consequences.
 

lizmonster

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(Sorry for the lack of quoting - not trying to mislead or avoid.)

There's a larger discussion here, of course, about Twitter pile-on mobs, which tend to be brutal, especially where YA is concerned. It's worth noting that while what happened to Justine Sacco was pretty surreal (based on what I know of the incident), the two authors you've mentioned did not have their careers ruined. Zhao's book was published with changes; she now has two out. Jackson has a book scheduled for 2021. That said, I've no doubt the experience was horrible to go through for both of them.

And while I read Reid's statement differently than you do - I don't think she much cares what others do or don't "like" - I stand by my statement that most of us aren't ever going to have to worry about this, either because we won't go viral, we won't ever get that famous, or we won't say anything that injudicious, intentionally or not. It's simply not worth fretting over much, especially during the query phase. Be polite; don't post angry. And feel free to delete stuff that worries you; odds are nobody's going to start trolling the internet archive unless you get rich enough not to care.

I'll also address the elephant in the room, and point out that a lot of the "it was just my opinion!" people tend to be less expressing opinions than questioning the humanity of other people. Not in every case, of course. But a whole lot of them.
 

Liz_V

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(Not quoting is fine, especially since it's just the two of us going back and forth. :)

Also, sorry to hijack your thread, rosepetal720! And sympathies on the rejection, whatever the reason.)


Most of us won't ever go viral, it's true. But whether any particular one of us does is down to random chance as much as fame or popularity or anything we might have control over. It only takes one person to take exception and sound the call to dog-pile, or even to unmaliciously retweet or link to something where it'll be seen by a larger crowd. Justine Sacco had only about 170 Twitter followers when she made the joke that turned her into an international watchword for this sort of thing.

Don't post angry is excellent advice, for all sorts of reasons.

Btw, JR has a follow-up post that I think clarifies that she is talking about what might upset the internet-at-large, not her own personal preferences:

We self-censor all the time. It's called being civilized.

BUT, there's a brand new sport of deep diving into your past that makes the Red Scare of the 50's look like a walk in the park. People ARE losing their jobs; people ARE being publicly vilified.

She's not referencing McCarthyism by accident. And while, as you say, Twitter mobs and their ilk are a larger discussion, I do think it's something we should all be concerned about. Both for our own sakes, and for what it's doing to our society in general.


I'd say there are two elephants in the room. One is that, yes, some people really are assholes (though I still question whether the internet raining fire down upon them is proportional or appropriate). The other is that some of the people starting or perpetuating these mobs are operating under hostile attribution bias at best, or putting some poor sod through the wringer to support their own agendas at worst. Which brings us back to the question of what in our own social media is controversial enough to be worth worrying about, and the answer is -- we don't know. There's no way to know. And that's a hell of a position to be in, especially for anybody who wants to do more with their social media than post kitten pictures.
 

lizmonster

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Fair points.

I do suspect sometimes people who were dumbasses now and then, especially when they were young, get disproportionately clobbered by blowback. I think that's different than shunning someone for abhorrent beliefs. We all have a line we'll draw, and it's going to be different for each of us.

You're absolutely right we don't know if some off-the-cuff comment is going to burn us. For most of us, though, I still think the odds are low.
 

mccardey

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Be polite; don't post angry. And feel free to delete stuff that worries you; odds are nobody's going to start trolling the internet archive unless you get rich enough not to care.
This. (And also good, just for general day-to-day Twitter hygiene, is the enthusiastic use of the report and block buttons.)
 

bahamaswriter

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I got a full request from an agent in January and hadn't heard back in 9 months. I had pretty much given up on that agent. A week ago, I got in some very heated arguments with people on Twitter over a political hot topic. (I was on the conservative side.)

Today, I got a rejection saying they didn't fall in love with it.

Would it be a bigger coincidence if, after 9 months, they happened to reject me after I made those posts? Or would it be more of a coincidence if after 9 months, they just happened to check my Twitter account at the exact right moment to see something they didn't like?

Either way, I deleted the posts, and I'm both mad at myself for posting it in the first place and disgusted with myself for removing it.

Hi Rosepetal,

They might have come across one of your posts. Writing is a business and when in business it's always best to remain neutral, especially when it comes to religion or politics. (My wise old Scottish granny always told me: "Never argue about religion or politics!"). On the other hand, that was wonderful that this agent was interested in your book. That's a good sign. Just dust yourself off and continue to submit your book to other agents. Good luck!

Best wishes,
 

Fuchsia Groan

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I do not know, of course, but I suspect JR was referring to the recent case of an agent who had tweets from her college/young adult years that featured rather a lot of slurs against various groups of people. The agent was let go after the tweets came to light. She apologized and said she had changed and learned since the tweets were posted. The tweets remained in her timeline, though. Make of that what you will.
 
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