Happy 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.