My question is: I am working on completing my first MS (YA fiction). I currently don't have a presence on social media. Should I start socializing electronically in anticipation of building a platform? How important is a social media presence to an agent when deciding whether to represent a new author?You don't need platform for a novel.
Sure, it's nice if you have 10,000 friends and people are hanging on your every word, but generally that's going to happen AFTER you write Divergent, not before.
And the idea that you're "busy" on Facebook and Twitter when you're not writing is a terrible trap. It's a trap beause you need, nay REQUIRE, fallow time. By fallow time I mean time when you're not doing anything. Not tweeting, not reading, not driving the kids to school. Time when you're staring into space.
Sometimes this manifests as writers block and sometimes it manifests as "oh my god I can't get started" but what ever it is, you need it. Your brain works in strange ways when it's working on writing a novel. Not all writing is tapping the keyboard. A lot of it is thinking. A lot of it is just dreaming.
It's one of the reasons I always advise buying a museum membership when you take up novel writing. Walking through the galleries, just looking, not thinking, not analyzing, just looking and seeing, juices up your creative spark.
So lay off the social media for now. Learn to be the very best writer you can. Once you start querying, it's time enough to make friends.