Agent Monday: Yes, We Google You

Happy Monday, all.  Recently I’ve been at a few conferences where I’ve spoken with writers about author marketing, or rather, marketing for writers BEFORE you are even published. From my point of view as an Associate Literary Agent, yes, it’s important that all writers  have a positive presence online even before querying agents. Why? Because, yes, we agents do Google you.

The question you should be asking yourself is this: What will the agents find? So do a little experiment right now. Go to Google, type in your name between quotes (“firstname lastname”), and press that search button. What comes up?

Is it nothing at all? Hm. That makes me wonder where ya been and what ya been doing. And, it also makes me wonder if you’ll be able to handle promotion of your own work if you do get a book deal. In case you haven’t noticed (and since you haven’t been online much, maybe you have missed it!), writers are now expected to help out quite a lot with promotion. That means reaching readers. Being found by folks trying to learn more. And so forth.

Does your Google search yield too much? Have you been all over the Internet badmouthing other writers, other books (and by extension their editors), other agents? Do you wax poetic about your dream agent, even though it isn’t me?… Just sayin!  In short, do you have an online image that will actually hurt your image as an author in my eyes? Be honest with yourself and see if your presence is professional and in keeping with what you want agents to know about you. And remember, the Internet is forever. Conduct yourself accordingly.

These days Google searches have also been revealing that a manuscript sent to me is already self-published and on sale, yet the writer was not upfront with me and failed to reveal this.  Not cool.

Sometimes, though, I do find the writer online in a way that adds to their image in my eyes. I’ll see that they have their own website in their author name (always easy to find by future readers…bonus points!), and that the website is clean, easy to navigate and personable. The site will have a nice author photo, a feel for what this writer does, perhaps some blogging about their field or reviews of books that they enjoy, and the tone of the page is in keeping with the author’s overall image I’d hope to find in relation to the work he or she is subbing to me. Having a website needn’t be a costly and intimidating thing. You buy your domain in your name, and then you can easily set things up. You don’t have to spend big bucks to set up a zippy-do site, instead you can use a free site to create and maintain your web page yourself, and have your domain redirect people to that location. That’s what I do. The page you are reading now is a free WordPress page and it does everything I need it to, plus I can update it easily at any time. Works for me!

More bonus points for the writer who has a twitter account with a decent picture (not that boiled egg thing) and a brief bio plus link back to their website.  Cool, too, if the author is following the people in her sphere. Like people who review her sort of book, associations who have links to her subjects, etc. And a facebook page that isn’t too too personal (posts like what my toes look like should be set to private so not everyone searching can see it) but that isn’t all spammy and look at me! I write stuff! I’m amazing!

In short, a demonstration that you have a clue when it comes to presenting yourself well and in dealing with the public in a positive way will be a positive for you.

And if you’re not sure how to do that, Google some people you admire and see what they are up to online. Look at other folks on Twitter and Facebook. Who do you enjoy reading stuff from and who do you roll your eyes at?

Now I encourage you to again Google your name and look over what pops up, keeping all of this stuff in mind. It’s your image — your online business card — so make sure it’s what you want to hand over to me and other agents when we virtually meet.

*Agent Monday is a weekly post. To catch all of these, subscribe to this blog by clicking on the “Subscribe to Marie’s Site Here” in the upper left column.

23 thoughts on “Agent Monday: Yes, We Google You

  1. You can Google me. I don’t think there is anything negative out there about me. I try to never say anything negative on-line. Occasionally, I have to tell a former student they need to remove something they posted on facebook, because it’s not appropriate. I tweet positive things and post positive things…I always thing, would I want a kiddo to see my post? If the answer is no, I don’t post or say it….

    • Hi Sharon,

      Excellent! Sounds like you have all your ducks in a line. It’s so important to think before posting. Things are so instantaneous on the online world, that at times I have to walk away from my computer and take a deep breath before I react to something and slap it up online. Like I used to tell my kids, count to ten first!

  2. Great tips! My search comes up mostly with links back to my former job and several other people who happen to have the same name. At least my Twitter account shows up, though!

    • Hi Gail.

      That’s a start. Now you want people to be able to tell you apart from the others online by connecting yourself with writing-related stuff. Be sure “writer” or “writing” appears in your profiles, and build from there.

  3. Marie, thanks for the shout out on this! I googled myself and found 24 pages worth + and thank goodness all writerly things 🙂 Yes, we must remember to post positive remarks/comments as its “out there” for all to find and if we are building a brand we want it to have a positive face that is part of a larger community.

    • Hi Donna!

      It’s interesting to see today’s teens and especially college students are moving forward with this point of view more and more. They know college admissions people and job recruiters scan their online identities thoroughly.

      Writers need to watch out for their images too, but it’s more than not having bad stuff out there…it’s about finding good stuff. It’s a way writers can really help themselves. Thanks for dropping the word “brand,” cuz that’s what we are really talking about – building your writer brand.

  4. Great post, Marie! So important…especially when building your writer’s profile and/or brand. I’ve been a spokesperson for fertility preservation + cancer, so that’s always what pops up first (because the size of the TV program’s platform) – not writing stuff, but at least it’s positive : )

    • Hi Karma!

      Yeah, it can get tricky when you wear a number of hats. Keeping it all positive is number one. Also, I know a number of aspiring YA authors who have created alternate online identities with a pen name, and who write under that pen name because the writing they do is a bit on the spicy side, and they want their teacher world kept separate from it. 🙂

      • That’s interesting re: a pen name. But it seems that it could get tricky when you go to connect all the social media dots etc for promotion…like, do you tweet under your pen name’s twitter handle for your book/writing stuff? Start a separate FB page? If you already have a platform to some degree (good number of followers), it’s hard to imagine starting over AND managing two accounts. After all, we’re not just authors, or moms, or teachers…hopefully we’re multidimensional : )

  5. Well, I have a problem. If you google Heather Haven, you might get me or you might get an Amazon of the same name who sells her ‘tall’ wares. In order to reach me, you have to google the words “Heather Haven, writer.” There I am and all my work. Never could figure what to do about Heather Haven Tall. I keep hoping she’ll get too old to stand upright on her stilettos.

    • Hi Heather,

      Well, could be worse. I know someone who shares a name with a porn star. Yikes! One way to circumvent that is to have links to your author website and twitter account and facebook page right in your email signature. Easy for the agent to find and click on!

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