Thursday, August 28, 2014

Don't Unfollow: the case for staying around after Pitch Wars

It's inevitable: when I participate in a contest, I get a bunch of new Twitter followers.

Then a little clump of them unfollow me after the event is over. Especially if I didn't pick them for whatever contest it was.

I think you shouldn't do that. It's not because I'm greedy for followers. Nor am I particularly hurt by it (because who wants someone following her if that person doesn't WANT to be a follower?). Why do I think you should keep following participants and mentors once the contest is over even if you just auto-followed for an event like Pitch Wars?

Let me tell you a few reasons.

  1. The Pitch Wars contests, and other contests like it, are community-building events just as much as they are agent-getting contests. They connect mentors and mentees, but they also connect participants to other participants and writers to other writers (no matter what stage of the game they're at). If you seriously were only following me because I'm involved with the contest but you would rather actively sever the connections you made once the people are no longer immediately useful to you, I think you may have jumped into this for the wrong reasons (or at least, maybe you aren't appropriately taking advantage of all the good reasons that exist). 

  1. I'm a double-agented author (meaning I have two agents, not that I am a double agent, haha) and one of my books sold. Meaning I have done some of the things that a lot of my writing-community followers WANT to do. And guess what? I like to give advice on how to do it. That's part of the reason I joined Pitch Wars last year and did it again this year; I just plain LIKE HELPING PEOPLE. So even if I don't pick you for the contest or you feel slighted somehow, remember that I will probably say something that will be useful to you in the future (and I'm sure I probably have said useful things in the past that you might wanna check out), and I tend to tweet those things and blog those things. I can help you indirectly even if I don't help you directly, and following me helps you keep aware of when I'm saying something you might want to use.

  1. Publishing is a much smaller world than you think. I'm not an agent or an editor, but I know agents and editors, and I also know many of the other mentors. If your reaction to, say, critical feedback or getting panned in a contest is to unfollow and shun me or resent me, it's likely I'll notice your disappearance (assuming we interacted at all) and I'll assume you can't take criticism. If anyone asks me about you, I'll probably tell them that. And if you did that last year with your mentor or potential mentor, we probably talked about you this year and warned each other away from offering you more opportunities. Nobody likes to support or work with ungrateful people who only stick around because they want something from you. You may be doing it because you feel vindictive and want to reject someone the way they rejected you, but might I remind you that we aren't necessarily saying we dislike your work if we matched someone else's better . . . we seriously can only pick one here, so as a mentor who received 100 submissions and is therefore about to disappoint 99 people, I really want y'all to understand that!

  1. I personally like a lot of you and don't WANT to lose you. There's always a possibility I can give you advice, work with you on critique partnering, or just have fun together outside of the contest, and one way of making sure that happens if you want it to is to stay in touch. I love writers. And I'd hate to think you only love me back if you think I'm going to give you something. As an aside, I'm reluctant to follow people when I want something from them, because I worry they'll find my attention inappropriate, so I am actually more comfortable following (say) an editor at a publishing house AFTER I know they've already rejected me or aren't going to be pitched for my book. I didn't follow my agent until after she signed me, and I've sought out and followed some of the agents who rejected me when I was querying. I'd feel ultra weird about doing the opposite and only following someone while the hope was still alive.

I will say that if you need to/want to unfollow me for any reason, that's your right, and if you're extremely sensitive and can't deal with seeing my name on your feed if I don't pick you, I understand that happens. (Though you've picked a really bad profession in which to live with a thin skin.) I encourage any one of you who's interacted with me through this contest to contact me in whatever way you're comfortable (blog comments, private e-mails, tweets) should you need to talk about our interaction and how it can continue--especially if you disagree with my feedback or want to resolve any lingering doubts that make you consider unfollowing me.

I will admit I am a harsh critic sometimes (and some of the feedback I've drafted for this contest is going to have to get prettied up before I send it, because I've been a bit unforgiving at times), and if this is your first rodeo and my treatment of your material catches you off guard, I would much rather you open a dialogue with me than commit the social media equivalent of running away crying. What I say may or may not hurt you, but I can assure you it's drafted to help you, and I'm committed to doing that. I can't continue to do so if you decide it's best to just cut me off.

So, stick around, and let's enrich each other's lives and make each other better!

No comments:

Post a Comment