Pub Rants

Feels Like The End Of An Era

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STATUS: It’s early yet and no fires are raging that I’m seeing so I’m going to say it’s a good day.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? PERSONAL JESUS by Richard Cheese

How very dull and boring. Our little troll is back and hence all the deleted comments on the last entry.

In one sense, this is a compliment as having a troll certainly establishes that your blog has “arrived.” Trolls don’t bother with the blogs that aren’t getting traffic.

Anyway, I want to apologize for having to turn on the ‘moderate comments’ feature yet again and unfortunately, it looks like it’s going to have to stay on this time.

This makes me very sad as I’ve been blogging since January 2006 and for 2 ½ years this blog has been an open forum where writers could gather, express opinions about the industry and heck, even posts some criticisms about agents, about my agency in particular, etc. and I’ve never felt the need to moderate.

But I’m not going to allow a troll to hijack the blog so he can use it for his own personal forum with comments that don’t offer help to other writers or add to the discussion.

So on it goes. Do know that it’s just fine to disagree with me. I will post any comments that pertain to the entry topic even if they exhibit a dissenting opinion or a valid criticism—as long as it’s handled in a professional manner.

Sigh. Feels like the end of an era…

53 Responses

  1. Joelle said:

    Hi, Kristen,
    A middle ground approach might be to turn off the ability to leave Anonymous comments, like Janet Reid has on hers. I’m not a big fan of that because sometimes I want to leave a comment that I don’t really want to lead back to me – not a mean thing, but something personal about my writing situation…like something my agent said, or something…but it seems to work pretty well on her blog.

  2. vitaminbook said:

    Unfortunately, where there are blogs and opinions there will inevitably be trolls. I wouldn’t let it get to you; you’ve got a fantastic blog here and I for one have found it very informative and helpful, even when I do disagree with you over…certain books 😉

    While I can understand someone wanting to troll a site with troll-ish content itself, I don’t know why it would occur to someone that a blog run by a literary agent who likes helping people out over the internet would make for a good target.

  3. Antonia said:

    Letting the terrorists win, are we? That’s sad. But then, there’s just no putting the smackdown on some clowns. They never learn.

    Is it possible to make this place password sensitive? Maybe people should need to register for a username and password. That way the readers could sort of police themselves and take some of the stress off of you and your staff. I’ve seen a few discussion boards take that step, and recently witnessed a few of the more persistent trolls -voted off the island-, to use a reality TV phrase.


  4. Dave Olson said:

    Having trolls is a compliment, the same way getting herpes is a compliment. I think blog readers look way too deep into the phenomenon. Trolls are like “Graffiti Artists”, in that they hope every now and again someone will stop and pay a bit of attention to what they’ve done. Loud, crass, rude, full of sound and fury and ultimately signifying nothing. I’ve seen the more dedicated of the breed haunt a board for months, and they always amount to a second grader with a whoopie cushion waiting for the teacher to turn around. Most of the time they can be ignored into silence, unless they are saying things that may be uncomfortably true. I missed the current batch, and would imagine nothing bears repeating.


  5. Jordan said:

    I’ve come across a (very technical, if I recall correctly) way to block individual users from a Blogger blog, but barring that, I know many people have found that just disabling anonymous commenting stops trolls. No idea why it should; it’s not like they can’t sign up for a fake account, but they rarely seem willing to do so, no matter how angry and vocal they are.

  6. b.goode said:


    yeah, a public lynching would be cool! drag ’em out in the daylight and expose ’em for what they are! that would rock! make sure they could never get a query past another agent, blackball ’em, mess up their lives for exercising freedom of speech! next time we’ll go after ethnic groups and religions, too!

    i don’t go for trolls, friend, but i do believe in freedom of speech and yeah, freedom of anonymity, ’cause the bare truth of the matter is that the web is anonymous, and that’s where the honesty and the freedom comes from. start “exposing people for what they are” because of what they say and you may as well state “say nothing!”


  7. doortoriver said:

    I’ve been lurking for a long time now, and I just wanted to give you a bit of encouragement. Yes, it is sort of the end of an era; but at the same time, I’m really, really glad you’re continuing to post the same way, rather than moderating what you say for fear of trolls.

    This blog is incredibly helpful, more than you know. I’m sure I’m not the only wannabe author who lurks in its shadow. Thanks again for posting all this stuff, and I for one don’t mind moderated comments. Anything I wanted to say really wouldn’t suffer from a delay in being posted, anyway! 🙂

  8. Kathleen said:

    I somehow missed the troll problems. (Which is good, I suppose.) Apparently this is something that Blogger’s word verification system isn’t enough to stop? I thought those captcha things were pretty effective. Bummer.

    Thanks for being willing to go this extra step to keep your blog alive!

  9. Anonymous said:

    What a pity all that troll bile hasn’t yet been trained up into something worthier — say, social reform or comedy, both of which have a dignified history of angry inspiration.

  10. Mary Paddock said:

    I’m a moderator at a small online writer’s workshop and I’d be happy to loan you my troll squashing boots if you think they’d do any good. They’re sized seven with two inch long hobnails and might still have some goo left on them from the last “problem’, but you’re welcome to them.

  11. nightsmusic said:

    I too, missed the troll problems and am sad to see that it’s happened to another favorite blog of mine.

    b.goode, I agree wholeheartedly in free speech however, if one is so ashamed that they have to hide behind their anonymity to say something, perhaps it’s just something better left unsaid….

    If it’s important enough to the ‘poster’ to want to say it, I would think he would want everyone to know how ‘brilliant’ he was, even if just in his own mind…

  12. La Gringa said:

    Yeah, I’ve turned off the anonymous comments feature on my own agent blog; it’s cut down on the trolls quite a bit.

    Nathan was hit hard over on his blog last week, too.

    I guess some people have no real lives. Pity.

    Anyway, great blog – keep it up. As a fledgling agent myself, I’ve loved reading it!

    All the best,

    Colleen Lindsay

  13. Paul said:

    It’s very unfortunate, and all too common when one (or a few) ruins things for a majority. Oh well. Stuff happens and we press on.

  14. JulieLeto said:

    nightmusic said:

    b.goode, I agree wholeheartedly in free speech however, if one is so ashamed that they have to hide behind their anonymity to say something, perhaps it’s just something better left unsaid….

    I agree. Put up or shut up, IMO.

    Kristin, your blog rocks. I’m sorry this one idiot made more work for you.

  15. George Peabody said:

    Pardon me, but doesn’t someone using the handle of ‘nightmusic’ see the irony of pointing a finger at someone for being anonymous? The anonymity issue crops up as regular as clockwork, and unfortunately neither side of the argument ever gets the point.

    We are all anonymous here. Above, someone points out that it is simplicity itself to set up an identity online, and to speak through that identity on a regular basis. Bold statements aside, until computers are built with card scanners that instantly load drivers’ license information, photo and present location, we are all anonymous. For all you know, Ms. Nelson’s receptionist writes this blog. Or her husband. I am not saying this is the case, but it could be, it’s in the realm of possibility. Who hasn’t seen a comedy bit about some poor schmuck calling an 800 sex line, to later reveal that the woman on the other end of the conversation is actually an overweight man with a handlebar mustache?

    I don’t think that shame has anything to do with trolls; it has more to do with not wishing to do one’s career a potential harm. On a popular science fiction board I attend regularly, there is a troll I refuse to mention, who goes by his own name and is positively gleeful in his trolldom; this individual is a horrific writer in my opinion, and the only press he can get for his work is bad, so he’ll take it.

    It is about freedom of speech, though, and also about our right to turn the channel or ignore people’s ranting. I will grant the owner of a blog the right to turn off the troll’s ability to… well… troll, because if it is in her power she should do so. Accept trolls as a part of internet life, do what you can to avoid them, and live on. Do not impinge on our rights as individuals in the interest of preventing any and all offense. Talk to enough individuals and you will realize that beyond hello and goodbye, anything can be offensive to someone.

  16. sally a. g. said:

    Wow, did I miss something?

    All the kerfuffle has me ashamed to admit being curious as to what was said. Was it random swearwords? Character assassination? Funny? Stupid? Did anyone see it, or is everyone chiming in after the fact?

    Sally Anne

  17. Parker Haynes said:

    Yes, I too happened to check in while the troll’s nasty comments were still posted, and, quite frankly, was appalled that anyone could be so offensive. That type of infantile behavior should earn the person a lifetime at Guantanamo, or worse.

    I, for one, really appreciate your blog–the time you force out of a overly busy schedule to share your experience with the writers and wannabes of cyberspace. Don’t let it get you down.

    Thanks for all you do.


  18. Anonymous said:

    Along the lines of what Jordan said, what does it matter if the person posts anonomously or if they set up and id? Click on nightmusic’s id and all you find out is she is a 54 yo pisces from MI. So what does that do to prevent someone from spewing venom? If “anon” is 33 yo from Dallas that gonna mean anything to anyone vs simply posting as “anon”.

    Not that I suppost trolls necessarily, but who is to say they aren’t using their writing for good elsewhere?

  19. Elissa M said:

    Trolls will be trolls, and they love to be talked about. I’m glad I missed this one’s comments. Having to approve comments makes things harder for you, Kristin, but I hope you realize we all appreciate your efforts in keeping up this marvelous blog.

  20. Natalie Hatch said:

    Kirstin I must say that I for one am learning soo much regarding writing, pitching, publishing from this blog. As a wannabee it’s definitely helping me. So thank you very much for your time and effort.
    Perhaps trolls will turn into princes if they get kissed? Or then again maybe not.
    Just keep blogging, just keep blogging.
    And yes one day you will be my agent in america, coz you’re nice… (power of positive thinking/persuasion)

  21. nightsmusic said:

    For those of you who think I am wrong in my statement, let me say that my name is Theo, I am a 54 year old female who lives just outside Detroit, I will gladly post my IP for anyone who is interested, I write, I sing, I compose music and write the lyrics for it, I’m opinionated, passionate about what I believe in and am not ashamed to hide behind the screenname I use not only here, but on several boards which, if you search my screenname, you will easily find.

    You will also find anonymous if you search for that however, you will find a thousand people behind that obscure identity.

    So you see, I don’t have much of anything to hide and if any of you would like to contact me personally for more information, if it is within my power to answer and remain under the radar of a stalking ex, I’ll be glad to answer you.

    How many of you anonymous posters would do the same?

    Like I said, I enjoy your blog immensely and have learned a tremendous amount from you Kristen. Don’t let one troll discourage you! You are appreciated.

  22. Anonymous said:

    “Keep it civil” is directed at the woman who suggested rudeness be punished by a stretch at Guantanamo? Or perhaps Julieleto, who says “put up or shut up” and refers to someone as an idiot?

    Nothing wrong with defending freedom of speech, even as it applies to the misguided.

  23. Martin Radcliffe said:

    Disagreement and freedom of speech aside, shouldn’t an agent be free to allow whatever comments she agrees with on her own darn site? I’m not for hanging anyone out to dry, but support Nelson in her right to have a clean blog free of bothersome trolls!

  24. Anonymous said:

    I’m very sorry you’ve had a troll lurking around your blog. It just ruins it for the rest of us who do enjoy reading up on your adventures and challenges–not to mention successes–in the cruel world of publishing.
    I’ve learned a lot from you, and I thank you for the unselfish desire that drives you to let us look into this window of your professional life. I sincerely hope you don’t turn off the anonymous feature. If I should ever disagree with you, I’d hate to receive hate mail from your more passionate fans.

  25. Jill C. said:

    Good for you, Kristin. That person/troll is awful and I am so sorry you, and all of us, had to be subjected to his insane rants. Glad to see you are moderating.

  26. Southern Writer said:

    I agree with Nightmusic and disagree with George. Not everyone who uses a screen name is anonymous. In fact, I believe the majority of writers who visit here and at other agent blogs are doing all they can to build a name identity for themselves within the writing community. Most of us know each other fairly well through making the blog rounds. In some cases, I’ve even gotten to know some of my blogging friend’s families. Case in point: Miss Snark was anonymous, but we knew Killer Yapp and Grandmother Snark as well as we know our own families.

    There is no real privacy or anonymity on the web, and anyone who thinks so is kidding themselves. Someone knows who the troll is (I already think I know, and I didn’t even see any of his posts), and there are many ways of figuring it out.

  27. Paprika said:

    I don’t think free speech is at all the issue here. It’s okay to disagree with someone and state your own opinion. It’s not okay to be cruel and disrespectful toward other people. Free speech doesn’t mean courtesy has to go out the window….

    Besides, it’s Kristin’s blog. She has the right to decide what gets posted on it and what doesn’t. The real way to exercise your right to free speech is to go get your own blog. Then you can say anything you want on it.

  28. Ellen said:

    Hi, long-time lurker and first-time poster popping up to say thank you for 2 and a half years of blogging! I’ve learned so much from you and I’m sorry you were targeted by this person. Thanks for all the hard work you put in making the internet a smarter (and nicer!) place.

  29. Cindy Procter-King said:

    Well, I never! I disagree with implementing moderating comments on your blog!

    Sorry, bad joke. It’s very unfortunate that you had to start moderating blog comments, Kristin, but you gotta do what’s best for TNA. After all, don’t blogs reflect their owners?

    What a PITA to moderate all those comments, though!

  30. Kate_the_Viking said:

    I just popped in to say what doortoriver said – you are doing such a great service to all of us, and it is more appreciated than you know. As yet another lurker, I say – thank you for your blog. Don’t let the buzzards get you down.

  31. Unfocused Me said:

    Martin, I think you nailed it. I’m a free speech absolutist — “No law means no law,” in the words of Justice Douglas — but that doesn’t mean I allow anonymous strangers to come into my house in the middle of the night and yell obscenities at me.

    I have a blog, and it’s anonymous, and I like it that way. Not because I fear for my personal safety, just because I’d like to keep my writing life and opinions on other topics separate from my professional life.

    Kristin, thanks for your advice and for providing this forum. Both are very helpful. It’s your house, we’ll play by your rules.

  32. Anonymous said:

    I appreciate immeasurably the personal time you take to make publishing a book a more realistic and attainable venture. I’m so sorry you were trolled by someone who doesn’t appreciate your kindness, and now have to go the extra step of moderating comments.

    Please don’t stop with your posts. As long as you are willing to impart insight, there are those willing to read it and use it to make their dreams come true.

  33. Kelly McCullough said:

    Anyone who thinks they’re genuinely anonymous on the web is not really aware of how easy it is to track down names and details via ip address and other means. You can watch it happen in realtime over at Making Light when they get a particularly nasty troll. It’s much simpler to just be who you are online and own your words. I’m all for freedom of speech, and freedom of anonymity sounds nice but doesn’t really exist on the web.

  34. s. said:

    The good the bad and the ugly.

    I have attended this blog regularly since Kristen started it, originally in preparation for listening to her speak at a convention. At the time, I was new to publishing as an industry, but a very old hand at writing. I’ve learned a lot here; Kristen has a lot of good information about this industry, and I appreciate her willingness to share regardless of her motives. Having recently celebrated a birthday, I find myself examining how I do things and how I spend my time.

    This troll incident has thrown the time I misspend into very sharp relief. I’ve seen trolls, and I’ve seen anti-trolls. I’ve seen the anonymous and the proud trumpeters of online identities. I’ve watched you all go back and forth stating firm opinions that never go an inch towards winning any arguments; I’ll wager that not one soul to ever look at these little wars has ever budged a micron from their presupposed views. And that makes these tiffs monumentally useless. Every comment for or against Kristen, the publishing industry, agents in general– all meaningless.

    I believe Kristen is probably a great agent. But she can’t teach you to be a better writer. She can teach you about her angle of the business. She can teach you about what trends she’s observed in the industry… she can’t teach you to write from your heart, to a genre and an audience that might be waiting out there for you. All she can tell you is, “Yes, I can sell that” or “No, I can’t sell that.”

    Thank you for the knowledge you’ve shared, Ms. Nelson. I appreciate the help; observing your blog has been the equivalent of a college course on publishing. I do think that I’ve got enough to go on now, and that’s because of you. If I were you, I’d disable this comment section altogether, because the posters here, both for and against, detract from your net presence. Since I can’t seem to stop by without reading the comments, I’m afraid I have to let it go. My time will be better spent writing.


  35. Jacqueline T Lynch said:

    Commenters’ annonimity should not be the problem. The issue is mistaking a public forum for public property.

    The desire for freedom of speech seems to be, happily, ingrained in us. However, the demand for freedom of speech is irrelevant in a blog which is private property. This blog is Ms. Nelson’s publication. It is her right to allow or disallow any comment; and it is also her resonsiblity monitor the comments. Though the general public may make use of a forum which is accessible to all, they do not own it. Perhaps it’s easy to forget that sometimes.

    Ms. Nelson, no explanations or apologies necessary.

  36. Anonymous said:

    Sorry to hear about your “man under the bridge”. Just choose not to cross it, his pain is not yours. Do me one favor, since you are not in the best of moods, please do not read my query letter until you are having a really good day 🙂


  37. Pam Halter said:

    I write fantasy, so I have a different picture of trolls. HA!

    Apparently, you’ve touched a nerve with someone, Kristin. I’m glad you’re hanging in there. Tess Gerritsen quit her blog because the evil comments were getting to be too much for her … and she had safeguards in place. It’s a shame because I enjoyed her blog, too.

    What’s wrong with people anyway? If you don’t like a person’s blog, don’t read it!!

  38. vitaminbook said:

    I was wondering if I might get an agent’s opinion on something? I did a post on my blog earlier today about people posting their stuff on websites like DeviantArt or fictionpress, and how I don’t think doing so is productive most of the time. Have you ever browsed any of these sites? Do you think they’re a good way to improve or, like me, do you think most people don’t use them to their full potential?

    Just curious what a professional thinks about it!

  39. Kim said:

    Ahh! Blogger ate my comment –

    Round 2-

    It’s sad that some people just have nothing better to do with their time than be trolls.

    Comment moderation can be a pain, and adds a little more work, but at least the dolts with nothing better to do get what they deserve.

  40. John C. said:

    Welcome to the intarwebz!

    Frankly, I’m amazed this blog and the others I read have avoided this issue for so long.

    Thread-crapping is an art in much the same way First-posting is. It’s not that the troll has any particular interest in the thread. His job is to whip up emotion and feed off it.

    It’s a shame that it creates more work for an already busy lit agent. Perhaps you could report the offender’s ip and send it to abuse@their domain.

  41. Tânia said:

    Kristin, about this troll incident, remember this excellent advice : ” Never argue with an idiot. They drag you down to their level and beat you with experience” So delete the comments!
    You are great!
    Tânia from Portugal

  42. Caryn said:

    How frustrating! I can only be glad that you’re continuing to blog, since I’ve seen others shut down their blogs due to trolls. That, to me, seems like letting them win, while ending the flow of information and communication that so many others enjoyed from the blog.

    Although I know it would be a hassle to move, WordPress does let you block certain users from commenting (or automatically send their comments into moderation). Something to consider.

    Have a good weekend!

  43. Steve Buchheit said:

    Kristin, as another lurker, I’m also sorry that the trolls have made it here. And I agree with Jacqueline T Lynch, I am one of the biggest defenders of free speech, but this is not the marketplace, nor the the political green. This is the analog to someone’s home. I always reserve the write to toss any rude guest out of my house. As an elected official, if you want to stand up in council meeting during the public comment period and call me a clueless idiot who probably wouldn’t wear matching socks without the geranimal tags, you may certainly do so. However doing so in my own home (without making it a joke) will see you to the door with your hat and coat. Every house has different rules. It’s the expectation on the guest to know them and abide.

  44. A. J. Luxton said:

    Well, I missed this particular kerfuffle, but I’ve seen some hair-raising anon comments here before and I know the kind of thing. The agenda seemed like that of a cyberstalker, or similar. I worried that it would eventually get to you; I’ve seen great bloggers shut down under same.

    Let me just say, I’m really glad you’re not taking it personally. Your awesome blog is a service to all of us, and the real people out here — those of us with names, nicknames and handles, those willing to put continuity to our identities — are rooting for ya’.

  45. Julie Weathers said:

    “If I were you, I’d disable this comment section altogether, because the posters here, both for and against, detract from your net presence. Since I can’t seem to stop by without reading the comments, I’m afraid I have to let it go. My time will be better spent writing.”

    Donald Maass said a person has to be careful blogging doesn’t scratch the itch and I believe that is the truth.

    However, I have to say I have learned a lot from editors, agents and the writers who frequent these places. Several times I’ve received invaluable information in the comments.

    I finally, I think, figured out how to write a synopsis thanks to Miss Snark and the Snarklings.

    I do have to limit my blog time, but there are a few I will keep visiting as long as the owners feel they have the time and desire to continue. I just hope the troll mess doesn’t lessen that desire here.

    I agree completely with Steve Buchheit. I view the blogs as a home. Why does anyone think they have the “right” to be rude and obnoxious in someone else’s home?

    If someone did it on my blog, I would have no problem deleting and blocking them. I don’t owe you a platform to be an a$$.

  46. Anonymous said:

    Oh my God, what happened? It’s been awhile since I’ve visited this site, so I’m not up to date with the blogging.

    Unfortunately there are just miserable people who are just bitter.

    I like being anonymous because I’m introverted, and I like my privacy. If my identity was revealed then I would stop blogging, but I would continue to visit here and continue reading.

    I love this website.

    Sorry Kristen has a troll lurking.

  47. Anonymous said:

    Freedom of speech means we can say whatever we want–but it doesn’t mean Kristin is obligated to publish our comments. She has every right to boot the troll; this is her space.