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.]

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Pinterest: A Tool for Writers?

What do writers need to know about Pinterest?

Pinterest is the fastest growing social media site ever.

Over 65% of users are women (i.e. potential book buyers).

Pinterest users spend more time on the site than Facebook and Twitter combined.

The most common age demographic is 25-34 (25%).

So how can you make Pinterest work for you as a writer?

You don’t have to be on the site. Yes, it’s just another social media tool, but it’s a highly visual one, one that’s growing fast, and one that’s keeping women glued to their computers and driving traffic to purchase items they see. It shouldn’t be seen as merely a promotional tool, because if you approach it that way you’ll be disappointed. It’s for sharing. It’s visual. It’s for you as much as it’s for other people. It’s about like-minded communities.

What do writers ‘pin’ on the page?

Setting: Use the visual opportunities that Pinterest gives you to bring your story to life. (i.e. maps, landscape, buildings)

Characters: Do you have someone in mind that you would ideally cast in the film version of your book?

Videos: You can pin book trailers or author interviews. Continue reading Pinterest: A Tool for Writers?

Ask the Agent: Your Questions Answered! Part I

Question from Marc:
There is a lot of contradiction online about the best way to start a query letter. Some say start with an introduction about yourself, others say start with your hook and move bio and reasons for selecting that particular agent to the last paragraph.  What are your thoughts?

Personally, I don’t like the author introduction at the beginning. I prefer it at the end. I firstly want to know about your book (the hook), then a brief synopsis (one paragraph), followed lastly by the author bio. I feel that often writers get so tied up with placing themselves in the work (telling agents their age, their occupation etc.) that it takes away from the primary goal of the query: to get an agent to request more material.

Most importantly: follow agency submission instructions. If you are submitting a query to P.S. Literary please follow our query guidelines.

Question from Jennifer: Continue reading Ask the Agent: Your Questions Answered! Part I