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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#pitmad Twitter Pitch Contest Sept 9

Ready to pitch your manuscript?

On Twitter of all places? For all you brave folks with finished manuscripts here are the details:

Try #pitmad on Sept 9 from 8am to 8pm EST. See more info on Brenda Drake’s blog.

And read my Ultimate Guide to Twitter Pitch Contests.

#AskAgent tonight at 7pm EST

Writers on Twitter, I will be hosting an #askagent session at 7pm EST tonight.

Come with your questions about submissions, publishing industry, query letters and more! Remember to use the hashtag so that I’ll see it and respond.

If you’re not on Twitter, you can still follow along by searching the #askagent hashtag in the search box in the top right corner.

 

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.