Agent Monday: Got Media? (Social Media, That is…)

Young Girl at School Holding a Computer MouseHappy sunny Agent Monday to you all!  Get a bunch of writers together and the talk quickly turns to…social media? Yup, that’s right. I find this is on plenty of writers’ minds these days. At conferences, Q&A’s quickly turn to this subject.  At the Writer’s Coffeehouse I ran yesterday at the Willow Grove Barnes & Noble, it dominated our talk. And rightly so. So today I’m going to chat a bit about the big question editors and agents will be asking if they are interested in your writing: Got Media? (Social media, that is…)

You may think why bother with that? The novel’s the thing, right? Social media takes time. It’s not your thing. You are a writer not a promoter after all. Etc. etc. etc. BUT here’s a sobering thought… The other weekend at the Lucky 13 Conference hosted by the MD-DE-WV branch of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, fab Bloomsbury Children’s Books editor Laura Whitaker told everyone an important truth: If you as an author don’t have any online presence at all, that hurts your book’s chances when she takes it to an acquisitions meeting.

Wow, right? An editor can love your manuscript enough to take it to an acquisitions meeting, and the fact that the author has no social media presence at all can make your book harder to sell to the publisher.  If that doesn’t make you serious about getting yourself out there online, I don’t know what will.

But this shouldn’t come as a shock to you by now. Authors must now take on some responsibility for their own book’s promotion. When I find a manuscript that I’m interested in, before I make “the call” to offer them representation I google that person to see if they have any online presence and if it is a positive one (cuz a negative presence where you are bashing writers, editors or agents on line is not going to help you appear professional…).  And when I do make “the call,” one of the very first things I then ask the writer is if they understand that they must be willing to help market their work and that this includes online stuff.  It’s a critical piece of the puzzle that makes up a successful author and book.

Trust me, Bloomsbury is not an anomaly – all publishers are looking for this from their potential authors.

So what does this mean?  It means that first of all you should google yourself and see what pops up. Do you exist “out there”?  Is what you find positive? At the minimum, you should have a website under your author name (not your book title, cuz titles can change and you’ll have more than one book in you in the future, true?), a facebook page that keeps things professional, and a twitter page.  Think of these as your online business cards and present yourself accordingly.

Don’t be intimidated by all this if it’s all new to you. Hey, got a teen in your life?  They’ll set you up in a matter of seconds on facebook and twitter. And websites aren’t the expensive scary things they used to be. The one you are looking at right now? I set it up free on wordpress, and I purchased my marielamba.com domain, setting it up so that when folks key it in, they are redirected here. Easy peasy.

So help yourself be seen, help you as an author be viewed as someone plugged in and ready to market your work. Take it one step at a time. We’ll all be glad you did.

 

*Marie is an Associate Agent at the Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency in New York City.  To keep up with all her posts, subscribe to her site by clicking on the “Subscribe to Marie’s site here” link located on her page on the upper left margin.

 

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19 thoughts on “Agent Monday: Got Media? (Social Media, That is…)

  1. Thank you, Marie. i am just beginning the submission process on my first pb . I understand if someone picks up my ms, I am responsible for marketing but haven’t moved forward on that aspect yet. Your post today gives me motivation. I don’t want the lack of media presence to keep my awesome stories from achieving their fullest potential. Thank you, Shiela Fuller

  2. I googled my name like you suggested.
    I found out I had passed away last March of natural causes. (I was very old)
    The obit said Don was surrounded by his family and friends when he quietly slipped away.
    It didn’t mention if my dog was at my bedside.
    Now I’m worried. (About the dog – that is)
    Do you think I should go ahead and google my dog?

  3. Yes, I was at that talk and found it a wake up call. I’m now on twitter, getting a blog, etc. One reason I’ve been so slow to adopt is I’m a public school teacher, and we’ve been cautioned many times on keeping the public and private boundaries clear, especially on social media these days. I know I may have been extreme. But do you hear from other teachers about this?
    Thank you,
    Jonathan

    • Hi Jonathan,

      Yes, I know your concern, and I do know several teachers in your very same position. They’ve elected to have a pen name and to blog and post etc under that, keeping their private life separate and anonymous. Perhaps that could work for you.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  4. I was at Laura’s talk too and was surprised to hear that social media is now essential. I thought, No! I don’t want to tweet or read anyone else’s tweets! But then I signed up and discovered that what people are saying about children’s literature is both interesting and relevant. Yay! Another place to learn and be part of the community!

    • Yes! There are some give and take benefits. On Twitter, you write for the kid lit world then search for #yalitchat or #kidlitchat and you’ll find weekly relevant discussions by fellow writers and industry insiders – plus a ton of new people to connect with, too.

      Good luck with everything :)

    • Oh dear! One thing that can help is, at the bottom of your query beneath your name, put in a link directly to your own website. That’ll point folks right where you want them to go… :)

  5. Pingback: What I got from Lucky 13 | As the Eraser Burns

  6. A Google search of my name showed my connections with Smashwords, Facebook, and my website. However there are two doctors named Barbara Custer mixed in, too. I realize now that I need to attract more horror fans. I’m thinking about purchasing a domain with my name and linking it with my website. It was great seeing you at the Coffeehouse. :)
    Barbara of the Balloons

  7. So true!! Luckily my last name is unique enough that I come up with my blog and twitter immediately. Also I sent out several queries the other week and the next day my wordpress stats spiked.

    I have a hard time blogging because I feel like sometimes I have nothing interesting to say on it, considering how many blogs and websites there are. But it is a learning process – a matter of finding one’s blogging voice.

    • You hit a blogging nail on the head with your comment. You do need to find an angle that you feel comfortable enough and interested enough in to blog about – or it ain’t happening. It’ll just feel like something you have to do. That’ll come through in your posts and you’ll start procrastinating, guaranteed.

      So the trick, I think, is to find a subject/angle that is truly “you.” For example, my client M.P. Barker writes historical fiction, and has experienced first-hand some really cool history in her research and in her behind the scenes work on historical sites. Plus she knows plenty of experts who also have insider stories to tell. Hence her blog: Wicked Cool History Stuff: http://mpbarker.net/category/wicked-cool-history-stuff/

      Happy blogging :)

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