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.

 

Agent Monday: Inspiring!

Laptop on Kitchen Table with Cup of CoffeeHappy Agent Monday, world!  I’m currently posting from Washington, DC, where I’ve “landed” after finishing up an amazing weekend at the SCBWI MD DE WV regional conference Lucky 13. Count me lucky for being invited as a guest speaker at what proved to be yet another wonderful conference hosted by the Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators!  It was an opportunity to meet with so many talented people involved in the book business from agents to editors to authors and illustrators, in addition to many extraordinarily talented and kind aspiring authors and illustrators.  If I could find one word to describe the experience, it would be INSPIRING.

We writers sometimes spend a lot of time lost in our heads creating, squirreled away in a corner with our laptops. We gather inspiration from our thoughts and dreams and past experiences, but sometimes, oh sometimes, we all need to meet other people who “get” us creative types.  Other people who dream like we do and aspire for what we aspire.

As an author, I listened to the gritty and heart-wrenching experiences master storyteller Chris Crutcher shared in his talks. I was moved and inspired.  It made me want to be more daring in my own writing, to dig deeper into the darker truths that a story can sometimes skate around. As an artist (who hasn’t drawn in a while, I confess), I watched the endlessly talented illustrator Floyd Cooper create a sketch before our eyes, pulling an image from his own imagination and, with a few strokes, bringing it to powerful life for us all. And I felt inspired to pull out my own sketch pad and begin to capture images on paper again.

As an agent, I felt privileged to talk with numerous writers, helping them to shape their opening pages and answering questions that they had about their own works, their own careers.  And their enthusiasm to strive for the best in their craft was the most inspiring takeaway of all.

So, if you are currently sitting alone somewhere, squirreled away with your computer, and in need of some inspiration, then start looking around for a writer’s conference that might be coming up in your area.  For folks who write or illustrate for children and young adults, you can’t go wrong with an event that SCBWI will host. For those in the romance realm, Romance Writer’s of America chapters also offer regional conferences and events.  And there are countless other writer’s organizations and programs that host a program that might be close to you.

So step out, meet creative people, learn and share. And be inspired!  Maybe I’ll see you there.

(For my upcoming conference schedule, you can click here.)

 

*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.