QueryTracker Blog

Helping Authors Find Literary Agents

Monday, April 5, 2010

Building the Framework for Your Authorial Success

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.

Add 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.)

Suzette Saxton writes books for tots, teens, and in-betweens. She is represented by Suzie Townsend of FinePrint Literary.


Kristi Helvig said...

Wow - I realized my last name was nowhere on my blog or on any of my blog posts over the entire last year! I just changed it - thanks so much for the advice. :)

Matthew Rush said...

Morning Suzette. Thanks so much for the advice.

Unfortunately for me there is a famous gay porn star whose screen name is Matthew Rush - go ahead Google him, you know you want to - all kidding aside though, maybe I should add my middle initial to my identity.

Otherwise I generally follow all this advice.


Stina Lindenblatt said...

Great advice as usual, Suz.

I love it when bloggers have the email opinion. If I like their blog, I'll sign up for the emails (then I feel loved when I check my inbox). I tend to read those posts before I read the blogs I follow. And if I'm short on time, the posts in my inbox might be the only ones I check out.

LOL about the Guilding Light character. At least there're no porno stars or soap characters with my name. :D

Mary McDonald said...

I have a very common name, so googling it comes up with tons of other Mary McDonalds. However, I only just started posting my real name online the last few months.

Guess I better start using that Twitter account I've had for the last year. lol

Candyland said...

Holy Cow. I don't know why i whiffed on the Google thing. *Checking now...)

Mandy said...

Trust me guys, everything Suzette says WORKS! Though my full name doesn't post on blog comments, it's everywhere else: my website, facebook, twitter, etc. And 1and1 is a great web hosting site. It's user friendly and the templates are provided for us less-than-savvy computer people.

Agents do google writers. They do check out your blogs and websites. Don't be afraid to put your name out there and promote yourself!

Annarkie said...

You are so right, Suzette! Twitter has been my biggest springboard to building my web presence.
Good tip about the email adress, though :) I'm going to fix my blogger profile right now.

Tara said...

Thanks, Suzette. This is great advice :)

E. L. Schneider said...

Great advice Suzette, as always!
I've been working on getting my name to the top of Google's search page - and while I'm not competing against a soap opera star, I am up against a former reality star / model. It could be worse, I guess?
Thanks again for the great advice!

Slamdunk said...

Super tips Suzette. I had not considered the subscribe by email suggestion. Thanks.

Yvonne said...

What a wonderfully informative post. Thank you so much.

Amy Jo Lavin said...

Thanks, Suzette! I've now added my last name, and I plan to add your other suggestions to my blog. Great information!

kimysworld said...

Suzette, I have a facebook page that does not use my full name, as you know. I was thinking about making another page that is my 'writing' page with my full name. Do you think thats a good idea? I also plan to start a website soon, but do not have a blog or plan one yet. But my name is also somewhat common, so I hope it works. What do you think? Anyone else have thoughts?

Suzette Saxton said...

I think having a separate Facebook page for your writing is a wonderful idea, Kimy. Looking back, I wish I had done just that!

If you have a common name you may want to consider a pen name.

Glad you all found this useful!

Robin of My Two Blessings said...

Wonderful suggestions. My last name isn't anywhere associated with my blog but Robin of My Two Blessings comes up all of the place. Is that good or bad? Not having my last name associated. However, it does show up on face book. Lots of advice to think about. Thanks.

Jemi Fraser said...

Really great resources and tips, Suzette! I don't have a couple of these in place - off to learn - thanks! :)

Vonna said...

Great pep rally, Suzette! Thanks.

Suzette Saxton said...

I should have said before that having a common name isn't necessarily a bad thing - there are lots of published authors with common names. :)

Robin, you are probably fine, just as long as you link to your blog in queries...but I would consider what name will appear someday on the cover of your book. Hopefully someday your readers will be Googling you!

Natalie Aguirre said...

Thanks Suzette. I'm thinking of starting a blog and your advice is so helpful. I'll definitely use my name for my blog.

Alice Osborn said...

Fabulous, practical advice! I get asked these questions all of the time as a freelance editor and I also teach a "Blogging for Business" and a "Social Media for Writers" class in Raleigh, NC.
thank you again for the tips!

Alice Osborn

Elana Johnson said...

Yes, but Kristi, you have your email open, and your last name has always come through on that. At least for me. But it's still a great addition to your blogger handle.

Great tips Suzy! And those links are awesomesauce. As are you.

Lara Ehrlich said...

Thank you for such wonderful advice, Suzette! I signed up for Google alerts before I even finished reading the article :-) And I'll be sure to check out your blog.

Zoe C. Courtman said...

Concise, practical, EASY to implement! Thanks so much; great list of tips.

Suzette Saxton said...

:) Thanks!

Jamie Burch said...

Fantastic advice! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! :)

JayceeKaycee said...

I agree with your points about using your real name, first and last, but I'm nervous about privacy. I used my real name as my Twitter handle for the first couple of weeks, but I changed it after I got a creepy follower. I blocked him, but it's too late. He already learned my name and city.

Now that I'm serious about pursuing publication and establishing a web presence, I'm not sure I did the right thing by using a fake Twitter handle. How do you keep yourself open to readers, writers, and agents, but keep yourself protected from the creeps?

Gail said...

Wow, overwhelmed with all the great tips! Making a list of things I need to do this week now! Thanks, keep up the great work:-)


Suzette Saxton said...

Thanks, Gail. :)

Jaycee, you make a very good point. It's not necessary to use your REAL first and last name. The key is to be consistent. If you choose to use a pen name for the sake of privacy, that is totally fine. Just use it in all you do.

Looking back, I almost wish I'd used a pen name because I have run into a privacy issue. It's a tough choice though!