Generation Gap

An online friend who also writes historical fiction mentioned something that startled me and then got me thinking.

Heather Lazare, an editor for St. Martin’s–I think, said in a panel: ‘That whenever I find a ms I want to make an offer on, the first thing I do is go to their facebook to see how many friends they have.’

Whoa! My first reaction was to sputter and mumble about how ridiculous that approach is. What about all the platform work we aspiring writers do in terms of blogging, tweeting, involving ourselves in specific communities of interest, writing articles, reviewing books? Facebook isn’t the only measure of connectivity. I was incensed that a well-respected editor would consider such a simplistic measure. My emotional self was in high gear.

Smack! The other half of my brain took over. Of course that’s how an editor might think; FB is where she or he and most of their friends spends a lot of time connecting with one another. It’s a classic generation gap.

Let’s imagine the career trajectory of someone in publishing. According to Random House US, the career path is Editorial Assistant, Assistant Editor, Associate Editor, Editor, Senior Editor and Editorial Director. If an individual is hired out of university as an Editorial Assistant and averages 3-4 years in each career stage, she would arrive at Editor in her early 30s. As an example, according to her LinkedIn profile, Heather Lazare went from Assistant to Editorial Assistant and on through various roles to Senior Editor in a span of 9 years.

Not to get too nitty-gritty about my stage in life, but I have a son who is 29 and a daughter who is 32. Their crowd is on Facebook all the time. They post incessantly – random musings, photos, Pinterest links, Instagrams, links to various URLs, status updates, GPS notations. They click the ‘like’ button, scroll through timelines, make rude or funny comments about one another. They don’t call their friends, they FB them.

So … if this is the world that editors live in, this is the world I must embrace. Wanna be my friend?

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The historical fiction author behind A Writer of History...

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19 Responses

  1. We will never use these tools as much as the next generation but we need to stay in touch with what goes on around us. My needlework has brought me in touch with designers from all over the world. Packages arrive from UK, France, and Italy all the time. Google translator is a great tool.

    I just adopted a rescue puppy through a facebook posting. Very bizarre way to find something I wasn’t really looking for but he is darling. The owner did a background check(Ha) through friends on facebook. Lauren stated that Fletch had come to “heaven on earth”

    Glad you are well and pursuing your dream. K

  2. Of course I’ll be your facebook friend but it’s very daunting to think that how many followers we have on whatever medium is how we are judged. To my way of thinking the more followers we have on fb, twitter whatever means less time we are spending on actually writing!

  3. I’ll happily like your page if you put up a link.
    It’s pretty daunting to think any one social media outlet can control your acceptance/rejection. I only just made my Facebook page, so it doesn’t look so impressive yet, so the thought I would be judged based on that, quite possibly with no thought to the fact the page isn’t even ten days old, is scary.

  4. This one’s a no-brainer. Just have your agent tell them your name is “Joanna Jowkar” from Copenhagen, Denmark. I think she has something like 4,587 friends.

  5. Mary, thanks for sharing this with everyone. To be in that room when Heather said it–everyone went silent. Definitely a wake up call, and yet Facebook doesn’t feel like an applicable social networking site for those who are interested in connecting with writers and readers.

    In one of Mary’s contributions to HNS’s site: I saw that Goodreads ranks number one for places historical readers go for recommendations. I already had a list of books going but when I saw this data and heard what Heather had to say, it got me rolling. Look me up on Goodreads!

  6. Just friended you on FB. And wow. That is interesting.

    I’ve had a personal FB page for years – I work at a .edu and got an account when my middle daughter started college. I’m still undecided about creating a fan page and use my personal page for everything from work to fun to life to updates about my writing.

    1. You can allow people to ‘subscribe’ to your personal profile. A subscriber can only see things you post that you mark as ‘public’, but if you want to post something silly or just for your actual friends you can mark it ‘friends only’ and only people you have friended back will see it. That why subscribers only see things you post ‘professionally’ whereas your friends will see everything.
      It’s a new function Facebook made. Personally I still chose to make a separate page for my professional posts, but that’s because I do a lot of silly posts and prattle on about my son and am to lazy to worry about marking posts as public or only for friends.
      Still an idea if you don’t want to juggle a profile and a page though.

      1. Good point Char, I had noticed they were doing this pay-to-promote, but I hadn’t realised they cut visibility to encourage it.
        Also, sorry I didn’t reply directly to your comment, there was no reply link under your comment.

  7. No problem, Kirstie – you can set the number of nested (threaded?) comments in WordPress under Settings > Discussion in WordPress (from the Dashboard). I learned about that myself only a couple of months ago when I noticed I couldn’t reply more than once. 🙂

    I really just don’t trust Facebook. They make changes, especially regarding privacy, and you learn about them through your savvy friends. But, I’ll continue to hang out there because it’s the only way I have to communicate with some people.

    1. Love your blog about social media, Sheila. And I can definitely relate. For the moment, I’m concentrating on FB and Twitter plus my own blog. Seems about all I can handle. Wishing you great success with your writing.

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