And, of course, the number one way to do that is to have an awesome idea that's awesomely written and wows the agent with the sheer awesomeness of it. But even good manuscripts can sometimes get lost in the slush pile. So how do you stand out?
Amazingly enough--one major way is what I'm doing right now: Rambling! Blogging!
Every agent panel I attended and every agent I met had the same message: have as big of an online presence as you can. Blogs, Twitter, Facebook--whatever means you choose to accomplish your end--doesn't matter to them. But make sure you have something they can find when they google you.
Well, because once you're published--no matter how great your book is, or how amazing your agent is--at the end of the day, 75-85% of your marketing will be up to you. And before you call shenanigans about the injustice of that, stop and think about it. Who could possibly be MORE excited about your book than you? So really, who better to promote it to the masses?
So agents are looking at potential clients hoping to see some sense of marketing savvy. They are hugely--no, really--HUGELY impressed by writers with successful blogs. And when I say successful, that doesn't mean thousands of followers--though I'm sure that does impress them. Honestly, they were pretty impressed when I told them I had a little over 300 (thanks again guys--you made me look good!) and many of them said they were impressed by blogs with 100 followers. So you don't have to get down on yourself if you're not one of the big bloggers with hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of followers. A modest following counts for way more than you realize.
But, sadly, there is more to it than just having a blog with little pictures in your sidebar. There is a way to blog badly--and blogging badly can be worse for your career than not blogging at all. So here's what they said they don't want to see:
-shameless self promotion
-huge excerpts from your WIPs
They gave detailed reasons for why they don't want to see those things...but I think it's fairly self explanatory, so I'll leave it at that and if you have any questions or want more information let me know in the comments or drop me an email. I'd rather use the rest of this post to focus on what's much more important: what they DO want to see!
They want to see enthusiasm--not just for your own project, but for writing, books, authors--anything that helps build up the publishing industry. Because, let's face it, we're all fighting to keep this industry alive. So if our blog posts get people to want to read books (or, even better, to want to BUY books)--well, everyone wins. Plus, what better way can you show them that you know how to market your own book than by marketing someone else's book?
They also want to see a sense of networking. Author interviews are a great way to do that, but if you're not quite sure how to arrange those, they also said they love guest blogs. Can you connect with another blogger and have them write a guest post? Can you provide a guest post for someone else? Remember, the blogosphere is a HUGE place, filled with tons of people fighting the same battle to get published as you are. Why not take advantage of that and find ways to team up? Shoot, even a blog war is a way of networking--though it's not for the faint of heart. (*shudders at the thought of Frankie's next dare*)
Basically, their biggest suggestion was to have fun with it. This is all part of our dream--so none of it should be torture (well...outlining will ALWAYS be torture for me--but that's beside the point.) And the more fun you have, the more interesting you'll seem, and the more interesting you seem, the more agents want to know about you. Trust me, if you have a great book and a fun, exciting web presence send them your query--they want to meet you.
And in case you don't believe me, I can give you a real life example. Of course Shiver is an amazing book and Maggie Stiefvater is an incredibly talented writer and I doubt she would've had any trouble finding an agent to rep her. But Laura Rennert told me at the conference that one of the big things that impressed her about Maggie's query was this sentence
"My humorous art and writing blog is pretty well-read -- it had about 60,000 hits in 2007."
(And, in case you're curious, Maggie has her entire query posted on her blog if you want to check it out)
So it does work. They do pay attention. And the best part is--this is something we have complete control over. Nothing can stop us from building up our blogs as big as we want them to be. So with that in mind, I have a question: Is there anything--within reason--that you wish I did more of on my blog? Since I know some of you are evil (*coughs* Frankie *coughs* Simon *coughs*) I make no promises that I will oblige your requests. But I'm open to suggestions. And if nothing else, I'd love some feedback on how you think I'm doing. So if you have a second please, leave me a comment. I would love to read them.
Hope you enjoyed and have a great weekend everyone!
And stop by on Monday, for my next contest--an awesome signed picture book this time!