Thursday, September 15, 2011

The times they are a'changin', yes indeed

For as long as we've had websites and electronic addresses for writers, it's been a truism that most agents won't clink on a link, won't go to a website, won't do anything but read queries to find new work.

That's still 85% true (I made up the number but what ever it is, it's less than the 99.5% it was two years ago.)

What changed? Twitter and Facebook arrived.

Here's what that means to you:

I follow 224 people on Twitter.  I see everything those 224  write in general; everything they write to me (@janet_reid); and everything they write to people I follow (those 224 folks again).

But, I can also see, if I want, people who write to me or about me by clicking on the "Mentions" tab.  And I see a couple tweets a day from people I don't know, and often it links to their blog, or their site, or something that ...ta daaa... I click on.

So, yes, you're more likely to see a shark swimming in your backyard pool now than you were two years ago.

Here's why knowing this is important. You want to  BE READY.

(I've yammered about Being Ready before--this is the electronic equivalent)

If you have pages of your novel posted on your website, you should also have what could be thought of as an introduction, an overview.  It might be your query. It might just be a paragraph that gives me the time period of a historical novel. It's a brief statement that you use to answer the question: What is your book about?

I've gone to hundreds of websites in the last year and looked at 20-25 books posted there. Almost no one has an intro. It's like standing in a forest. I can see the trees, but I don't know where I am or which direction to go.

Think of the overview as giving me a map.

I know I know, one more thing.  But, if it gets your work read, if it makes serendipity and luck work in your favor, you'll do it.  Won't you?


Brett Henley said...

Amen Janet.

From a writer's perspective, I really (x100) appreciate you laying it out on the table.

Writers need to learn - and learn quickly - that how we represent our work is just as crucial as the work itself.

i.e. stop waiting and cowering under fear of rejection and do the work. The good will rise to the top with a little proactivity.


Anonymous said...

Wonderful advice as usual. :-) ~Ali

C D Meetens said...

Really good advice - thank you.

Colin Smith said...

It has crossed my mind, and I would be interested to know, how many agents proactively seek queries/pages/fulls from writers whose work they have seen on that writer's website ONLY (i.e., haven't met them at a conference, don't know any of their relatives or friends, haven't been queried by that writer, etc.).

Has this happened with you, Janet, or any agents you know?

Nathan Rudy said...

I had a couple chapters of my novel on my site, and was advised to take them down because it could be considered publishing them.

Is it OK to have a couple or three chapters on your site?

Whirlochre said...

Truly, we're all now ever more huggable — and buggable.

Kristi said...

Hmmm, some advice to take to heart! Thanks sharky! :P

Rena Rossner said...

Great advice Janet. Website duly revised!

JohnO said...

Crap. This is all good advice. But sadly, it means taking down my special section on navel-lint sculpture.

Heather Hawke said...

I also am interested in the answer to Nathan Rudy's question. Is it advisable to post a section of an unpublished ms on your website?

jjdebenedictis said...

**buffs fingernails**

Already doin' it. Pat me on the head.

ryan field said...

There's nothing more frustrating than going to a blog or web site and getting frustrated because you can't figure out the who, what, when, where, or why. I think we're all a little guilty of this sometimes. But when talking about books, it's important to make it clear so readers know, too.

Simon Hay said...

Yes! I'll have a story to share with you soon about serendipity & the importance of having an authentic online presence. You're a part of this story because your teeth are shiny.

Anonymous said...

I've been told something similar to what Nathan Rudy said about work being considered published once it's online. I'd like to post a few chapters and overview on my site if that's not a legal issue for publishing later.

danicapage said...

Wonderful post. Thanks for the advice. I'll definitely add a what's my writing about page.


Shiela CalderĂ³n Blankemeier said...

Thanks for the great advice, as usual!