Please welcome new agent Chris Kepner of Victoria Sanders & Associates to the Ball today.
Chris is a native of Buffalo, New York and a graduate of the University of Notre Dame. Starting as an intern for Zachary Shuster Harmsworth, Kepner joined Victoria Sanders & Associates in May 2008. According to his mother, Chris has had a book with him ever since he could hold one. From the Hardy Boys Mysteries and Goosebumps, to Kurt Vonnegut and Ernest Hemingway, Chris’s passion for literature has always been strong. With very eclectic interests, he is open to all types of books as long as the writing is exceptional, though he tends to gravitate to literary fiction and narrative nonfiction.
Welcome, Chris, and thanks for blogging about social media today!
I’ve lived twenty-five long years now, and certain things become apparent to one who is lucky enough to make it this far. Being one of the “old-timers,” I believe I have license to reminisce on days gone by, things we enjoyed once that have faded into the ether, or changed beyond recognition.
Facebook, for instance. Boy, in my day that sure was something.
It was the autumn of 2004, the time of the carefree and the exuberant. I happened to be studying abroad in London that semester, but the ubiquity of the Internet ensured that the blue Facebook wave crashed on our shores as well. I remember it like it was yesterday—I was in a computer lab with one of my roommates checking fantasy football stats, when he turned to me and asked if I’d heard of “this Facebook thing” yet. I replied that I hadn’t. He urged me to check it out, though qualified his endorsement by saying it was in fact pretty stupid, just to save face in the event that he was on the wrong side of a lame fad. He urged me to just try it, that it was addicting and I would soon be hooked.
And I was.
Most everyone in my undergraduate class of 2006, as well as the other pre-baccalaureate classes of 2005, 2007, and 2008, was either already on or joining by the hour. It was like Woodstock for the tech generation. We were free to document the debauchery of our formative years through text and photos (and soon videos as well.) It was one great shadowbox homage to liberty and youth.
But, as all things tend to do, it ended.
Somewhere around the autumn of 2005, the beginning of our senior year, one of my friends announced that he was closing his Facebook account because he’d heard that potential employers were looking at applicants’ profiles as part of the hiring process. Well, that just started a frenzy of untagging photos and adjusting privacy settings. And shortly after that it was announced that our beloved site was to be opened to the public. Our wonderful little island on the web was being threatened by outsiders, and it was like the lights turning on at the end of the party of the year.
Pretty soon people started using Facebook to market themselves. This was appalling to me, and I raged against the dying light of the site’s ideal. For it wasn’t supposed to be about money or fame—it was supposed to be about friends and fun.
I guess we all have to grow up eventually, and now that I’m in the publishing industry (and I’ve accepted that the Facebook I knew and loved is gone for good) I can see that there is real value in utilizing the site to connect with and build an audience. I’m an “old-timer,” as I said, so it’s been difficult for me to make the transition from a fun-based Facebook experience to a business one.
At present, I still prefer that authors contact me by the “old-timey” method of electonic-mail. Query letters, along with the first three chapters pasted into the body of the message, may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m mainly interested in literary fiction and narrative nonfiction, but take a look at my profile on GoodReads (http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/3608411-chris-kepner) to get a better idea of my tastes. And I’d love for you to check out my blog, The Writer’s Advocate, at http://chriskepner.wordpress.com.
A special thank you to The Debutante Ball for asking me to guest blog!