Q: What Do Agents Like to See When They Google Writers?

20120130-093459.jpgYes, if we’re interested in your work we’ll Google you. And yes, there are things we like to see:

  • Some sort of Website. You need a landing page. (WordPress and About.me help you do this for free. You don’t have to break the bank.)
  • A certain level of Social Media proficiency. (It doesn’t have to be everything, just showing interaction.)
  • Blog posts that aren’t discussing the submission process in too much detail. Many writers lay it all out there to share the (often lonely) experience with others, but it’s really best if you can keep this to yourself.
  • Positive demeanour and Professional approach in your online interactions. It’s a small world! (And editors can Google you too.) Agents choose who they work with carefully, and we like to work with nice people.
  • A Personality. You don’t have to talk about books or writing online, if you’re passionate about dogs with paper hats then let your freak flag fly. Don’t be afraid to be memorable.

Bonus points and a gold star for: A smart balance of a website, blog, and 2-3 social media sites. Funny or clever online engagement. Mastering the subtle art of self promotion.

Remember: The only thing worse than a writer with no social media is a social media account that bashes the industry you’re trying to break into.

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.

47 thoughts on “Q: What Do Agents Like to See When They Google Writers?

  1. Great post, as usual, and quite timely for me.

    Would you mind elaborating on what you’d like to see on a new author’s website? Without an already-published book to promote, I’m a little confused what to post other than contact info and links to social media accounts.

    Appreciate your thoughts!


  2. You’ve made my day! I’m currently looking for an agent and have wondered if my platform is adequate. Lots of people liken the process to the chicken and egg conundrum: if you don’t have anything published, you can’t get published. My feeling is, that if an agent likes your work, the entire dynamic will change. So, I’m sending out queries and I’ve also started submitting essays to publications and contests. I put up occasional blog posts to give people an idea about who I am and to get a sense of my writing style, but I’m apparently running on the unbeaten path, so I don’t get many comments and I’ve been wondering if I should remove that feature altogether. Any thoughts on that would be appreciated! Thank you for the encouraging post!


  3. Do people really bash the “industry you’re trying to break into”? I mean, that sort of seems like shooting yourself fin the foot?

    Just because someone is having a hard time finding an Agent ( like I am ) doesn’t meant that there isn’t one out there for me and my books / series. Writing and Publishing is hard, but anything worth doing isn’t going to be easy right?


  4. Really, being accessible is not every writer’s bag. I want anonymity. I do not want to compromise my privacy. That’s the whole point of not exposing my life and my true identity on book blurbs and social media. I don’t see why you don’t accept that an online presence is not for everyone. Good agents can work around it. It really isn’t everything. Marketing in other ways can do the job.


    1. But many writers are looking for ways to stand out. And being accessible is one of them.

      Good writing stands alone, I always say.

      However, marketing has become more and more a role of the author.

      I think most writers want to give themselves every opportunity they can.


  5. Great post and very to the point. To me, being a nice person is pretty much mandatory for any situation in life. I want to deal with nice people and I’m sure everyone else does also. One of my biggest pet peeves are fellow authors who use Social Media to spam the world. I don’t want to see you screaming about your book ever other tweet :-)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you for this! I’m almost ready to start submitting queries for my first novel and have been doing a lot of research but this is the first time I come across advice concerning social media.
    I have a question that perhaps you could help me with. Most people say not to query before the manuscript is complete, but a writerly friend recently told me the opposite. It freaked me out a bit! When do you suggest is a good time to start looking for an agent?


      1. Should our website focus exclusively on writing? Or, are you more interesting in seeing our facilitation with social media in general? For instance, if I were writing about a brain scientist, and there was a news article announcing that we had unlocked the mysteries of the human brain, is it good to link to the article with some commentary? Apologies in advance if this is a naive question – although not new to social media, I am new to promoting my novel. Thanks – this is a great site!


      2. Hi Pat,

        It’s up to you how involved you want to be with social media and with your website. If you can keep it up (i.e. update very regularly) a blog style where you link to articles could work. However, if you would only update semi-regularly that would not be good. That’s why I recommend starting simple and then adding on things like a blog.


  7. I’ve read over most of the comments. I can understand the concerns about privacy, but I think Social Media is great because “you” have total control over all the information that goes out. If you consistently use WordPress, Twitter, etc., you can build up a solid international audience of people you would not have reached so easily otherwise. It does take time to gain and keep Followers, but I’ve been able to keep in touch with people well outside of the United States. We inspire each other to achieve our goals.


  8. This post has me feeling like I am doing the right things to move forward in my career. I appreciate the clear advice and pointers regarding a good balance in all aspects of a writers platform. Thank you.


  9. I feel funny talking about the submission process at all, but sometimes I can’t help but talk about other personal issues in an otherwise writing blog.

    I think part of it is thinking of blogging like journaling. It may be a while before I have a website.:/

    The problem with online, is coming across differently than the humor you were trying to get across.

    Though I’m becoming more and more of an onlineophobe.


  10. I have a question that may (or may not) be naive…I am beginning to write a novel now so am obviously doing research into the industry and the process of finding an agent, etc, once it’s done. As far as social media goes, I have personal Facebook and Twitter accounts but none related directly to my writing. Do I need to have social media accounts for “me, as an author” that are separate from “me, as a person/my personal life”? As one of your more recent posts touches on, it’s a big scary to embrace calling myself a writer before anything I’ve written is 100% finished/published, especially while I am still keeping my full-time, non-writing, day job.


    1. As for social media, you need to be able to keep up with it. So often it’s too much to have personal ones and professional ones. For example: What works well for people is a private Facebook page, but a public Twitter or Tumblr. You need a landing page and you need to show a personality.


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