Saturday, October 12, 2013

Question: How much of me?

Agents have been known to check out prospective client's blogs and/or social media. How much might a badly-written blog article influence your decision to request a manuscript? As I wander the webs, I've come across blogs by unpublished writers that don't reflect well any writing skills they may have. And I wonder if writers might put as much care and attention into *all* their writing (blogs, emails, comments, etc.) if they knew prospective agents/publishers/readers were assessing their abilities based on these and not just their query letter. 

This answer applies only to me. I'm not sure how other agents work. I like to assume that everyone does things the way I do cause I'm brilliant and all that, but sadly, have discovered that is not the case.  (Further empirical evidence I should be Queen of the Known Universe and soon.)

When I get your query and the first 3-5 pages of your novel or memoir, I generally do NOT head over to your website, blog or twitter feed.  I request the pages, open a file for you and then after three ice ages have come and gone I read your work and reply.

ONLY if I am interested in taking you on as a client do I start nosing around.  Time is a precious commodity here, and if I'm not interested in the book, I'm not going to spend time on your website, blog, or twitter feed cause ..well...why would I? I've got plenty of other writers to torment.

However, and this is a big however, do NOT USE THIS to think you can get sloppy on your website, blog or twitter feed.

Everything you post should be your best work at the time.  Don't worry about going back six years and cleaning things up. Obviously you will have gotten better over time.

The big thing about your electronic presence is that it should look active.  A blog that no one is reading doesn't help you.  A twitter account with no activity (note I said, no activity not too-few followers!) doesn't help you.

Frankly most of what I'm looking for here is whether you are crazypants.  Are you going on and on about how slow agents and editors are? Are you making sweeeping political generalities?  Are YOU the only thing you talk about?

A good electronic presence is active and social.  It's well written, fun to read, and gives me something to retweet or blog about.

And if I take you on as a client you can bet your cute red cowboy boots that one of the first things we'll do is review your web presence across all platforms and ask you to clean up the stuff that needs work.  Editors look at this a whole lot more quickly than agents do, that's for sure.


Anonymous said...

You have such a common sense approach to how you work, that I can't imagine why Queen of the Known Universe title hasn't fallen right into your lap by now!

But seriously, I loved this post because I do try to take care about my online presence. On my website I like to write about a lot of different things - but I'd say 90% of it is about writing - not that I'm a SME, but..., hey, I at least try to offer help and make it interesting. And bonus here, when I first started, the only one reading it was me and some crickets. But somehow, I've managed to pick up followers...and celebrate each one.

With Twitter, I find that I'm not that much into it, but I always, always thank followers, and if they are involved in writing in some capacity, I follow back. There too, I've built my presence, but I remain practical about what I tweet.

Last, but not least, I avoid political statements like the latest flu strain. I never, never post anything political, b/c the one thing that sends me over the edge is a rant. I try to stick to what the blog is about, what I use Twitter for, and that's writing..., well, that and the occasional meandering about my dog, or maybe something that's bothering me. (Like my recent post about my former running buddy who may have ALS.)

Colin Smith said...

As I said in a previous comment on a previous post, I can't help but write *everything* with my "writer's hat" on. That's just the way my DNA twirls. Sure, sometimes I'm in a hurry, and that blog comment or email ends up sounding not quite as I would like, but most of the time I give thought to grammar, spelling, voice, flow, etc. Maybe it's just me, but I see everything I write as an opportunity to hone the craft.

As usual, a thorough and informative answer, Janet--thank you! :)

Lance said...

I am in the very early stages of establishing an electronic presence. One of the things I'm doing is a blog under a pseudonym while I work the kinks out and get a feel for what it's like. So far, only the crickets are reading it.

John "Ol' Chumbucket" Baur said...

I started my blog with no expectation that anyone would care or read it. That may have been a mistake. I used to keep a writing journal, a notebook that I'd put some thoughts down in when I was finished with the day's writing. About two years ago I had filled the latest and was going to go buy another when I thought, why not write it as a blog? Save me a few bucks and you never know. It also has the advantage of not being written in my execrable penmanship. I look at my journals from just a couple of years ago and can barely make out what I was saying.

Now I'm thinking that the fact that it's really pretty much focused on my WIP with random thoughts about the wider world, and only has 14 followers (and who ARE those people?!??) may become a problem.

LynnRodz said...
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Keisha Martin Romance Writer said...

Its sad to say although I have a blog, face book, and twitter I feel blogging is hard to maintain because writers tend to write the same thing yet I ponder how to write engaging post that will entice people to read my post? On my blog I try not to bitch and complain about the possibility I will never get an agent or pubbed I mix it up and talk about being a mom, working full time and some reflection on politics which is minimal, I am not sure if some agents view the amount of followers an individual has an indication of their writing skills etc again to me that's another subjective part of the profession, so for now I am happy with the folowers I have even though two of those followers is me, the goal continues to be honing my craft. Great post Ms Reid and can I be a citizen of your universe? =oP

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

A great question, and a reassuringly sensible answer!

I've been able to loosen up in my blog writing (both of 'em!) and be more representative of myself (maybe?) but I'm still relentlessly dorky and/or manic in comments. Ah well. There's always Twitter.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

I really do try to avoid the political but if you swam in 2016 I sure as hell would vote the sucker fish out and you in.

Mark Koopmans said...

I'm just happy I have a newspaper background (my route always had two hills that killed me - killed me, I say) so ever since I started blogging (9/11/11) I've always thought someone important will one day read what I have to say, so I may as well get it right the first time.

(Sadly, no, my parents have yet to comment on my blog :)


PS... completely unrelated... but I think the CAPTCHA program fancies you, Janet...

The word I have to input (and I took a picture!) is "ojanut")

How random is that! Too funny!!

PPS: If you were born in October, 1965, you should buy a Lotto ticket, 'cos "1065" is the CAPTCHA number!