I am THRILLED. THRILLED, I TELL YOU, TO BE HERE.
Hope you guys are having fun, getting off the couch and realizing you CAN DO THIS THING.
Let’s talk about something you should dabble in even before you start querying: Social Media.
You’ve heard blogging is dead? You just don’t get Twitter? Think Facebook is a waste of time?
Here’s a dirty little secret: if your query and first pages strike an agent/editor’s fancy, she often Googles you. If your name is entered in a search engine, do you know what comes up? Try it. I’ll wait.
Now, I’ve been all over the interwebs for awhile. When I Googled myself this evening, the first return was my lishacauthen.com website front page. The second listing was my January 10th WordPress blog post, third was my Twitter page, fourth my interview on Heather’s blog. (Hmmmm. That hasn’t shown up in ages. You peeps must be a-travelin’ over there.) Next, my Ink&Angst blogposts and then down the way a review on Amazon from years ago, comments I made on various blogs, my iPhone apps Tumblr, my Pinterest, mention on Kansas SCBWI faculty…etc.
An agent finds that kind of trail, she’s going to know I’m in this for the long haul, and have been working and networking.
If you’re ready to query and don’t currently have a presence on the Virtual Highway, do not panic. Sub It Club is a NO PANIC ZONE.
The two things an agent/editor wants to know when Googling a potential client:
- Can I find other samples of her writing? — Some people–none of us, obviously–actually pay a humanoid to write their query letter for them. Sheesh. Agent/editors sometimes like to make a quick check that the query they’re reading is representative of the writer’s work.
(That doesn’t mean you have to sweat over each word you send upon the ether. They understand web-stuff is more off-the-cuff. But if your query reads like Shakespeare and your blog comment reads like Hop on Pop, that agent you query is going to stroke her imaginary beard and think twice before she requests a full.)
- Can I find any krazy krap? — Oh honey. Again, none of us, obviously. But there have been peeps with pictures of their tattooed backsides posted on their public page. Or long vicious rants about an agent who didn’t sign them. Or picture book writers with salacious descriptions of their lovahs on their blogs, right there for God and everyone to see.
(What in the Sam-hill are they thinking? Picture book authors should not even KNOW certain words that YA writers know. Pretty sure it’s a law. Also. Never, never, never dis ANYONE on your blog, much less a publishing business professional. Even if you never want to work with that person, that person has friends. And even if you never want to work with that person or her friends, it will scare off legitimate professionals you will want to work with. Last of all, nudity is always a no. Always.)
At the very minimum, you’re going to want a blog. It doesn’t have to have a lot of bells and whistles. It doesn’t have to dance and sing. But you do have to at least download a fresh header, (the picture at the top that doesn’t change), to show that you took some bit of time with your site.
Lots of people worry about their blog traffic. This is an important point if you are selling something to the public. I look upon an unpublished writer’s blog as first and foremost, a tool to reassure your target agent/editors that you are a professional. Give them some place to sample your writing, other than the your highly-polished submission. Over time you will probably spiffy up your site. My WordPress blog was the first Social Media I attempted, and I didn’t sit down and design it in one day. I added widgets and esthetically pleasing elements over time, as I got comfortable with the platform. (A platform is the medium you’re using. WordPress. Blogger. Twitter. Google+) But all the while I kept writing, built an archive. My earlier entries aren’t as good as my later ones, I think, in terms of voice and flow. And that’s okay. Your agent/editor will see how you keep working and improving.
Blogger and WordPress are the two major free blogging platforms I see used by writers at this time. This blog is WordPress, as is mine. (No I am not going to link it again. You will have to look up above. Even I am sick of me.) Heather’s using Blogger. Go fiddle around with them both and see which you like. You can always delete the one you don’t like.
If you have to pick one thing to do, make it the blog. If you can wrap your head around adding one more piece of Social Media, join Twitter.
A little time investment in the beginning will make Tweeting a whole lot easier. Use the TweetDeck so you can categorize who you’re following. Then follow fellow writers, your friends, and those agents/editors you want to understand. Find out what they’re looking for today, right now. You don’t have to talk in the beginning, just listen. Get a feel for the give-and-take. Then jump in and get your name out there. Personal contact of any sort with your target can only help.
Set up a blog. Give agent/editors something to find when they Google you. Then buck up and grab your Twitter handle. You never know what small remark will grab an agent’s attention.
Thanks for the post! I’m *somewhat* present online, but maybe too much in my head (“ouhh, I read so many posts!”) and not enough on the screen (“Ahhh! I’m scared to tweet someone who might think I’m a wannabe-twirp!”) I *do* have a website, and a blog that I rarely update (whoops … gotta add that to my writing block once a week, I think), and twitter … soooo … if anyone wants to follow me (my tweets are half-writer, half-teacher) they can! @123patrickg 😀
Patrick, TALK to people. All that can happen is they don’t answer. So? I’ve talked to famous authors and editors and agents. And, well, it’s just fun! Quite a few I’ve met in the flesh later, and I could say that we’d talked on Twitter. IT’S A BIG DEAL.
So I followed you. You can follow me, now.
Then TALK to me!
One of my 2013 resolutions was to get onto Twitter. Thanks for confirming that it is a valuable tool and not just another techno-time sink!
Good resolution, Cathy! I’ve been on since 2009. I think it’s here to stay.
Let us know your twitter handle when you do!
Excellent post, Lisha. Thank you! I need to work on a banner for my blog . . .
I’m sure you’ll come up with something nifty!
Any comments or examples of query letters?