There are some investments in your career you can make now that will grow over time to help ensure your long-term success.
Your Online Presence
- BE GOOGLE-ABLE! I cannot stress this enough. I recently held a contest on my blog and had over 300 entrants… and guess what? Fully half of their blogs were nearly impossible to find when I wanted to link to them. PUT YOUR BLOG ADDRESS EVERYWHERE! On your Facebook profile, your Twitter home page, in your siggy in forums, etc. Also, use your first and last name ALWAYS. As for how to become Google-able, following the steps outlined below is a good place to start.
- (To see if you are Google-able, just do a search for your name. If you come up in the first few pages of results, you are on the right track. When I first started building an online presence a year ago, Google searches for my name brought up pages about another Suzette Saxton – a fictional character on a soap opera in the 80s. Today I am proud to report there are four pages about me before the Guiding Light result even appears.)
- Change your blogger profile to be open to emails. Trust me, people are trying to get a hold of you. This will make it easier on them. (To learn how, see the resources below.)
- Put your name, first and last, on your blog. Near the top, so it is one of the first things people see. And if you are agented, say so, mentioning your agent by name. It’s good publicity for both of you.
- Make your Twitter and Facebook profiles public. You would be surprised at how often agents and publishers want to gauge your presence on these sites. Be sure to include your full name in your profiles.
- Set up a Google alert for your name (and maybe even for the name of your dream agent or agency.) Google will send let you know via email when your name is mentioned online. And you might be surprised by how often you see it! (See resources below to learn how.)
- Follow agents on Twitter. I’ve heard from many writers that they found their “in” with an agent this way, by offering an agent exactly the genre/story he or she is looking for.
- Make intelligent comments on agents’ blogs so they are familiar with your name. They say it takes people seeing a book four times online to purchase it, perhaps the same holds true with agents requesting your work. The key is to have them recognize your name when they receive your query; and knowing you follow their blog means they know you are aware of what they are looking for, making them more likely to consider your material.
- Always be polite to agents, no matter what. Even if they reject you. Actually, this holds true across the board. Be polite and approachable in all your interactions online – your reputation and credibility depend on it.
Getting Your Name Out There
- Blog, of course. And in every post, link to a handful of other blogs (authors, agents, our blog *wink*) because it makes your blog post more likely to surface in Google searches. Plus, people will be pleased to discover you’ve mentioned them, so it’s win-win. (And you know the good 'ol Google alert? Every agent has one. If you mention and link to them in your blog, they may just come check it out...)
- Get a “subscribe by email” widget on your blog, like the one on the right-hand side of this blog. The number of our email subscribers dwarfs the number of our followers, so trust me – you’ll want to do this.
- If you are at the querying stage, make a website for yourself. It will impress your agent-to-be. (A good, low-cost place to do so is 1and1.com.) Make sure it looks professional.
- Offer to guest blog on writing blogs, or even on blogs of your writing friends. The worst that could happen is hearing “no,” and hey, we’re writers - we’re used to rejection, right? Interviewing and being interviewed by your writing friends is also a good idea.
- Whenever you visit a blog, comment on it, even if it’s just a small “thank you.” The more you spread yourself around the web, the better known you will become.
People to Get Chummy With
- Get to know your local librarians. They will be your biggest supporters when your book comes out, even planning book release parties and other events for you. And don’t be afraid to ask them to buy books you want to see on the shelves.
- Volunteer at a school library, be it elementary, secondary, or high school. There is no better way to connect with kids en masse and get a feel for what they want to read. (HINT: Elementary kids want novels with pictures on every page. Think Diary of a Wimpy Kid or The Invention of Hugo Cabret.)
- Book reviewers are a savvy group, passionate about reading (though they are not always writers) who blog in a huge, inter-connected community of reviewers. Following these blogs will give you a good idea of the latest trends, and of what works (and what does not) in specific books.
- Also, book review blogs can make the difference between a book that sells and a book does not. Someday you want your book reviewed by these lovely people. So think of book reviewers as future BFFs. (Want to see what a book review blog looks like? Check out Literati Read, which belongs to the group of aspiring teen authors I mentor.)
Now go forth and conquer! Your success awaits you.
ResourcesAdd a “Subscribe by Email” Widget
Set Up a Google Alert
To Make Your Email Public on Blogger
And for Premium Query Tracker Members, there's an Agent Blog Roll under Premium Reports for your one-stop blogging and tweeting. (Click on the photo for a clearer view.)