Aug 20, 2010

Sincerity in Blogging and Comments

by Tanya Parker Mills

My daughter was home for a whirlwind six (yes, only six) days, before returning to Provo to prepare for moving and beginning fall semester. While she was here, she asked me to read a long and thoughtful Facebook note posted by a friend about the lack of sincerity in communication at BYU. Her friend posted this after coming off an unsatisfying DTR (for those of us who are out of it--and I certainly was--that stands for "Define the relationship") conversation with a guy she liked. Her main point was that if people would just be honest from the beginning, a lot of pain and confusion could be avoided.

So, I'd been thinking a good bit about sincerity and then today on the Publishing Pulse I get from QueryTracker, there was a link to this posting by agent Jessica Papin of Dystel & Godrich. I'd love for you to give it a read (and don't skip her readers' comments, either), and then answer the following questions (sincerely) with me:

1) What percentage of the time do we post a comment on someone's blog just to keep our name out there? (I'm guilty of this, I'll admit...for me, I'd say 60%)

2) Do we read all the comments on our own blog postings and reply to each of them because we want to...or because marketing people say we should? (50-50 for me)

3) Do we post on agents' blogs to get their attention and, when we do, do we try extra hard to come across as professional, witty, and cool...or are we just ourselves? (I've only posted on one agency blog and it was to ask a question...though I labored long and hard over exactly how to put the question. Mostly, I'm just a lurker.)

4) Are we afraid to disagree with the blogger publicly in a comment? (Yes...I don't want to burn bridges. But I'm rethinking this after reading what Jessica had to say.)

5) Are we afraid to really be ourselves in our blogging? (Yes, particularly when it comes to politics because I'm sure 80% of you would not only disagree with me but begin to distrust me...after all, I'm a Democrat. GASP! There, now you know.)

I'd love to read your honest responses.


  1. I read the blog you requested and liked it, and really liked the effort someone put into posting the question to Jessica. I just think I get the hang of blogging and then learn more and find out I haven't learned enough etiquette or mechanics. So, sometimes I just read to learn and do not comment. I haven't visited many agent sites. I like to know that people read my blogs (I take pity reads at this point) and I try to judge my improvement in my writing by the comments I get. I like that I learn about things that concern me by comments people leave to my blog. I enjoy reading other people's blogs for the writing and for the sharing of their thoughts. As I am opinionated I leave comments. If I feel I don't have anything to say I don't leave a comment or if I disagree I try to do so nicely and I like to see other perspectives. If I disagree a lot and can not think of a nice way to say it I might not say anything. I often feel I am far more frank in my blogs than I probably should be. I like to read and I like my thoughts read and receive comments. I hope that I am considerate but not a kiss up.

  2. I wouldn't have a writing blog if I didn't want to connect with people but the reason I started it is to have SOME sort of online presence.
    I'm totally guilty of not reading comments.
    But I also rarely comment if I don't have something to day. Fortunately - I nearly always have something to say.
    You will never (or rarely) hear anything political on my blog because I'm Mormon and tend to be democratic. Not that it does me much good in Alaska...
    Thanks for the post, I think it's a nice reminder for all of us to have an online community that's more authentic.

  3. Thanks for your thoughtful responses, Susan and Jolene. It's funny that we live in a time when we not only have to communicate but we have to metacommunicate (communicate about the communication process...whether in person or online).

    And Jolene--a fellow Democrat! How long have you been up there in Alaska? You should come down to our Northwest Writers Retreat in October. You should come too, Susan! It's going to be at this nice facility near Deception Pass the weekend after General Conference. Seriously, think about it.

  4. I only read and comment on those blogs that I enjoy. In the past I have tried to do the whole marketing thing, but have found that it requires too much time. And I agree that there is a lack of sincerity if done otherwise.

  5. 1. I don't really leave comments to get my name out there. I do comment to build relationships and troll for comments on my own blog. I rarely do it just because I found the post so engaging I just have to say something.

    2. I reply to comments individually because the marketing people tell me to, but also because I'm grateful someone left me a comment! I want to make them feel welcome, so they'll leave more comments.

    3. I rarely post to agents' blogs. I don't expect my comment to stand out necessarily. When I do post, I try to be as professional, witty, cool as possible. Because that's just being myself. ;)

    4. I'm not afraid to disagree or offer a gentle critique. I assume people want a discussion that's not just fluff.

    5. I am always myself when blogging -- but only part of myself. It is a business decision to blog, after all, so I keep it professional and related to what I'm trying to promote.

    Are you questioning my motives for leaving my comment? Well, it may just be that you've sparked an interesting discussion. Or -- I'm hoping you'll come by and comment on my blog. ;)

  6. No, Shelli, I'm not questioning your motives...I'm questioning everyone's motives, including my own! But you're right...I was also trying to spark an interesting discussion.

    And I did leave a comment (sincere) on your blog. :D

  7. I have a very different out look on blogging. I blog mainly for my family so we can keep in touch since we are spread all over the country. I also blog because I love it and I use it as a missionary tool since I'm the only member in my family. Sadly, I rarely do it to improve my writing skills. Although on some level it has because I've noticed I put more effort into my writing since starting the blog. However, I think that because I'm not tethered to "creating a web presence" or "finding an agent" I have a sense of freedom that others don't. I love getting comments but mostly I love creating the blog. If people comment great, if not, oh well. Maybe next time. I consider myself guilty of commenting on others blogs because they have commented on mine but never for a motive other then that. Oh and about that democrat thing...
    You know the old saying, "If your not a democrat when your young then you have no compassion. But if your not a republican when your old you have no sense" There's hope for you yet!:-b

  8. Okay, I'm commenting just so Tanya knows I read it all. I have nothing to add. How's that for honest communication?

  9. I like Terry's comment best!:)

  10. Funny, I just read and write and comment when I want too. Never thought of it as a networking opportunity but frankly there's nothing wrong with that either.

  11. I think you have your "Jessicas" mixed up...


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