6 Ways Social Media Doesn’t Help You Get Published

Screen Shot 2013-09-08 at 5.33.11 PMDoes social media help or hinder the creative process?

So many writers are on Twitter and Facebook chatting with other people in the same position. Everything from sharing common experiences, information about who to query, and joining critique groups are part of the wonderful things social media can offer. There are a number of things not to share on social media and ways that social media interferes with your goal of getting published.

Many agents, including myself, look for writers on Twitter once we’re wowed by your query or writing samples. What we’re looking for is daily posts, something funny or intriguing and a voice that we want to get to know. Twitter is only 140 characters, but that’s ample room to show your chops as a writer and get your unique voice out there.

However, there are many cases where social media isn’t helping you:

1. You are over-sharing

I mentioned above some things we like to see in Twitter. Here is something we don’t like to see: confessions about your writing that raise some red flags. Such as you’re not sure you have another book in you, you’re not sure what genre you fit into, you don’t actually read at all or see why writers need to read. Believe me, I’ve seen this all on Twitter before. Think about what is appropriate to share and if a potential agent or editor was watching, what voice would you want to project?

2. You are sharing information that is actually private

Submission lists, number of agents you’ve queried, full manuscript requests, phone calls and meetings with agents–are all things that you need to keep to yourself for your best interest. You want to be a hot project and you want to keep your cards close to your chest. Don’t give everything away on platforms that are public. Agent Sarah LaPolla tweeted this sentiment last week and it caused lots of discussion!

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3. You are wasting time instead of creating time to achieve your goal

We’ve all had days where we’d rather check Facebook and Twitter than work, but it’s important to know when it’s social media time and when it’s writing time. If you think that fiction authors need to build their platform more than they need to perfect their craft you’re wrong. Writers need to write in order to get better and in order to accomplish your goals. Finishing a 80k word novel isn’t easy. It takes great time management skills, and social media management skills.

4. You are building a platform in the wrong direction

If you are a non fiction author you should be targeting your social media towards your market and your potential consumers, not fellow writers. Find your niche and engage in social media within it. Join Facebook and LinkedIn groups. Add people to your Twitter Lists.

5. You are creating an online identity that isn’t desirable

Negativity, over-sharing, spilling details that are private are all social media habits that are not desirable for a business partnership. Yes, Twitter is a place to vent and share common anxiety in the publishing process, but you should be thinking about the end goal. Fake it ’til you make it. Be the persona on social media today that you want to be when your book publishes.

6. You aren’t engaging with all that social media can do

One of the wonderful things about social media and blogs is that agents and editors share their likes and dislikes, what they’re looking for and what doesn’t work for them. Engage with the platforms, comment on blog posts, get your name out there in a positive way and pay it forward. Find the social media platform that best suits you and dig out all the useful information.

Published by Carly Watters

Carly Watters is a SVP, senior literary agent and director of literary branding with the P.S. Literary Agency. She is a hands-on agent that develops proposals and manuscripts with attention to detail and the relevant markets. PSLA’s mission is to manage authors’ literary brands for their entire career. Never without a book on hand she reads across categories which is reflected in the genres she represents and is actively seeking new authors in including women’s fiction, commercial and upmarket fiction, select literary fiction, platform-driven non fiction and select memoir. She occasionally represents children's book projects. Carly is drawn to emotional, well-paced narratives, with a great voice and characters that readers can get invested in.

31 thoughts on “6 Ways Social Media Doesn’t Help You Get Published

    1. My note at the start of the post was to frame where agents are coming from. It’s only *after* we’ve fallen in love with sample material do we take to social networks to see if authors would be a good fit for us.


  1. I understand that 140 characters can provide compelling content. So much communication is now reduced to one liners, sound bites and information mc’nuggets. However, I’m not sure that those adept at this distillation necessarily have the chops to turn out more substantive work. I would hope that time is also allocated for deeper and more thoughtful vetting.


  2. This was an interesting post. I’m surprised that only Twitter was mentioned. Do agents/publishers generally not care about your Facebook page/whether you have a blog following or not/etc?

    Twitter is easy… a couple of lines once a day, maybe twice (I’m un-following people all the time for retweet abuse!). But keeping up with a blog, trying to build a ‘community’ rather than a ‘follewer’-based presence is far more time consuming in my opinion. :)


    1. It depends on what your book is, in my opinion. For non fiction, Facebook can be really powerful. For debut writers, you aren’t going to get as far with a Facebook Author Page because you don’t have a track record yet.


  3. Practical pointers. Twitter is a tightrope for me. On the one hand, I am in no danger of over-sharing. My social media face is my professional face. Period. On the other, I don’t want daily quips to sound authentic, not scheduled. I’m much better with FB, so play to that strength, and I like that I’ve been able to echo my WP banner on my FB page (branding yada yada), but based on this post and your most recent reply, I’m rethinking my Twitter presence. Thank you, Carly.


    1. All good points! I agree, my Twitter presence is my ‘professional face’ too. I’m always working at incorporating personal tidbits while keeping it in line with the message I’m trying to put out there into the world.


  4. Great tips! I liked your point to keep in mind that you want to put forward the face NOW that you will wish to have AFTER publication. A wonderful tip that not a lot of writers keep in mind, I think! Thanks so much, Carly :)


  5. This info is very helpful! As a writer seeking representation, I’m wondering if my tendency to shy away from social media could be working against me. I like using online networks that relate to my craft such as GoodReads and blogs, but I’ve never been a fan of Facebook and Twitter. As an agent, do you find it questionable if an aspiring author doesn’t have much of an online presence?


    1. For fiction it’s hardly necessary. Once you have a book deal and you start to think about promotion you’ll want an author website and possibly a blog built into the website and maybe a Twitter feed or Facebook page to keep fans updated. But fiction needs to stand alone. If you’re focusing on writing a good book first you’re on the right track.


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  7. I review YA books on my blog. If I want to write and publish YA books, is this a bad idea? I don’t swear or use crude humour. I had honestly never thought of it as a bad idea before.


  8. I am turning your fan. Till few days back when I started looking out for an agent, I felt scared beyond words- FINDING AGENT- felt like finding a needle in the haystack. With the information you have given in your e-book, plus your blogs, gives me the IRON MAN confidence, if you want to find the needle, just bring a great magnet close to the haystack.

    Liked by 1 person

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