Yes, Agents Google Writers

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This is the social media elephant in the room.

You don’t query in a vacuum. If you write a query letter and an agent is intrigued (congratulations!) the next thing an agent does is Google you or click on the links in your signature to see where it takes us.

A writer’s virtual footprint is their resume at that point.

Here are my ‘online guidelines’ for writers:

  • Make sure you have a landing page. It could be Tumblr, WordPress, About.me or a website. You only need one, but make sure you have one that has good SEO–Wordpress or a domain name is best for that.
  • Make sure you’re not a digital ghost. If we Google you and nothing comes up it makes us think 1) you don’t take this seriously and 2) that you don’t understand social media and the importance of an online presence and that worries us. It’s a red flag, because when it comes time to promote your book you should already have these things sorted.
  • Social media isn’t for spamming your following, it’s for community engagement. How do you sell books through social media? Indirectly. When you have a following that likes you for what you post when it comes time to promote your book they’ll be happy to spread the word.
  • Align yourself with conferences and organizations like SCBWI, WFWA, RWA etc.
  • Agents have changed their mind about an author after searching them online. Yikes! How do you avoid that? Making sure you don’t have websites or blogs that are ghost towns. Post regularly. And regularly can mean whatever works for you (once per week or once a day, but no less than a couple times a month!).
  • Being active on Twitter and Facebook means posting at least once per day, on average.

Don’t know what social media is right for you?

Tumblr: Ideal for images and short text. It’s a microblog.

Twitter: Great for short thoughts and sharing links.

Facebook: Perfect for integrating family and friends with your work, and sharing links that you have lengthy opinions about.

Pinterest: Works for behind the scenes thinks like character sketches, world building imagery, and visual content. Also, writing advice that’s image heavy like Tumblr.

Do you know the optimal times to post to social media?

Tumblr: Weekday evenings after 7pm-1am. Don’t post before 4pm. 

Twitter: 9am-4pm weekdays. Peak time: Thursday and Friday at lunch and early afternoon. Don’t post 8pm-8am or Friday after 3pm. 

Facebook: 6am-8am, Thursday and Friday at lunch, and weekends. Peak time: Sunday and Thursday. Don’t post 10pm-6am weekday or weekends after 8pm. 

Pinterest: Weekend mornings and weekdays 2-5pm. Peak time: Saturday morning and Wednesday at lunch. Don’t post 5pm-7pm.

There’s your checklist!

[Info via Hubspot.com, PR Daily, Track Maven, AddThis.com,  Social Media Week, Entrepreneur.com, Media Bistro, Fast Company.]

Webinar: HOW TO GET AN AGENT. Details here:

This Thursday is my Writer’s Digest Webinar HOW TO GET AN AGENT.

Sign up here.

Think getting an agent will be the hardest thing you do as a writer? Think again!

After a 1 hour presentation I answer 30 minutes of viewer questions, you get a query critique in 6 weeks, and the full webinar emailed to you. So if you can’t attend live I still urge you to sign up.

See you in a few days!

Deal News: GROWING UP GOURMET by Jennifer Carlson has been sold to Atria Books

Parents of young kids will be excited about this one!

World Rights to Baby Gourmet (an organic baby food company) founder Jennifer Carlson’s GROWING UP GOURMET, a baby and toddler cookbook featuring 125 natural recipes, with a mix of new recipes and Baby Gourmet favorites, have been sold to Donna Loffredo at Atria/Simon & Schuster!

How To: 7 Steps to a Great Writer Blog

Screen Shot 2012-04-26 at 4.18.09 PMI love it when writers link to their blogs when they’re querying me. I know not all agents agree, but if I’m interested in a query or a project I’ll definitely be looking you up. So what do agents look for when we’re going through writers’ blogs (which are different than author websites)? Here’s a glimpse into my thought process.

How To: 7 Steps to a Great Writer Blog

1. FREQUENCY

My biggest pet peeve is writers who set up a blog but don’t keep it up. I know things get in the way (life, marriage, kids, day job, etc) but the most important thing is some sort of schedule. I’m not saying you have to blog everyday, because you certainly don’t! What I am saying is try to create a pattern: once a week, twice a month, twice a week–whatever you can manage.

2. CONTENT

What querying writers shouldn’t be blogging about is the process. I know this seems strange because it’s the biggest part of your writing life right now, but trust me on this. Agents and editors don’t want to know how long you’ve been writing/querying/submitting this novel for.

3. VOICE

When agents are signing writers from the slush the most important thing to us is usually voice. Plot we can revise, voice we can’t teach. So if we are intrigued by your writing and we want to know more we find our way to your blog and voila! We see if we like the voice more or less now that we’ve seen it in a different context.

4. FOLLOWING AND INTERACTION

You don’t need a big following on your blog for an agent to take notice. For fiction the writing always stands alone. However, it’s really great to see writers who blog interacting with the people who visit their site. Because if you have a following of 10 or 1,000 those are people that understand you, like you, and will support you when the time comes. That’s better than 500 empty hits.

5. CONTACT INFORMATION

Always have contact information on your blog. Link to your Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram (if you are open to sharing this with the public) so that people can engage on the platform they like best. Don’t forget an email address!

6. AUTHOR BIO

A succinct author bio lets me know this writer is serious and wants to be taken seriously.

7. COLLABORATION

If you don’t know what to write about, why not do it as a group! Pub Crawl Blog, All The Write Notes, and Writers in the Storm are all good examples.

**

My top writer blogs:

  • Have you checked out Chuck Wendig? He does blog about writing, but also funny inspirational (with some NSFW language!) posts.
  • Sarah Dessen is also great. She mixes media and blogs about her Twitter posts too.

Further Reading: The Big Mistake of Author Blogs by Jane Friedman