Monday, June 21, 2010

What Next if an Agent Likes You?

Young adult agent Jennifer Laughran, of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency, confirmed in an interview what I suspected (and what I would do in her shoes). When asked what she does when she likes an author's query, she replied:

  1. She looks up the author online. In her words, "to see what else they have, and if their website is a total turn off."
  2. She sees if the author blogs. If so, does the personality sound like someone she would like?
  3. She talks to her co-workers and boss to see if they agree with her feelings about this author.
  4. THEN she chats with the author on the phone, to see if they hit it off, if they agree on what an agency should do for the author.
  5. THEN she sends them a contract.
Did you see numbers one and two? It's no longer optional that you have a strong online presence. It's as important as your manuscript. You can moan and fuss about that part of the business, but you can either get on board, find another passion, or write for yourself.

You are as much a commodity as the book these days. You can't climb in a hole, write pretty words, and toss them out to someone else to market. First, it isn't going to happen. Second, no one can promote work from the heart like the creator.

Some of you are in denial about this. Some may say this agent could be different from the others. Some of you actually think that an agent will discover great prose and never look at the promotional ability of the author. And you'll continue to seek representation until pigs fly, or get disgusted and self-publish, or quit writing. If you cannot navigate the Web in all its glorious avenues and options, you short change your writing future. It's that simple.

NOTE: Yes, an online presence takes a little time out of your day. I hate updating a website each week. I often post five blogs on one day so I don't have to think about it everyday. I've skipped days Twittering because I only wanted to write. But like editing, like writing those stinking synopses, like running down markets, maintaining an online personna is an administrative task you learn to love or at least tolerate.

DOUBLE NOTE: Gosh it's hard to write at night after spending 8 hours in the garden and yard. It's so dang hot. I actually installed a mini-fan in my chicken coop.

7 comments:

Anna Fani said...

I hear you on this Hope. I’m a Project Manager and I have killer hours but I have to make myself write something everyday no matter how exhausted I am. Thinking up what to write for the blog outside my usual writing can be exhausting as well. I set a personal challenge for myself to blog every day in June - workingwriterslife.blogspot.com/2010/05/personal-challenge-for-june.html. What do you think?

Terri Tiffany said...

I had always wondered if they would first check out my blog etc. Nice to know that some do--and I like that it is a way for them to see if we'd connect or not as I read for that same reason:)

Hope Clark said...

I think a blog is good if:

1. It's updated at least weekly.
2. It's has a theme separating it from the other blogs.

Yep, it's hard to write on a routine (i.e. daily), but it tells you how important writing is to you.

Carol J. Alexander said...

Hey Hope,
Like the new look!
I'm actually finding my blog helpful in generating ideas for my articles.
BTW...those BIG chicken houses with 100,000 birds in them have really BIG fans. You should see them.
Have a good week,
Carol

Hope Clark said...

Yep, used to loan, inspect and supervise construction of chicken houses with 100K birds. Huge fans. Always hated seeing those birds so packed in there, though. My chickens will live to ripe old ages. Those don't make it to six months.

D. G. Hudson said...

Solid advice as usual, Hope.

Noticed your new blog style -- Looks good. I've been looking at ways to update my blog as well, but it's still WIP.

I prefer to have one solid presence, like a blog, rather than having several social networking responsibilities which would take more time away from writing. I do try to support others' blogs -- mostly agent/writer blogs by reading and commenting on the ones that interest me. Each of us has to determine how much time we want to devote to the grid.

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