Does chocolate cake need icing? Does my dog need doggie treats? Do children need playgrounds? Um, no to all, but they’re nice. Seriously, why wouldn’t you do everything you possibly can to get yourself noticed? Are you committed to getting an agent or will you sit in your drafty attic loft, starving, alone, miserable, agentless, with a manual typewriter, but knowing you’re a “real” writer? I mean, I happen to like my chocolate cake sans icing, with just a sprinkling of powdered sugar. Some agents say, “Don’t bother. I don’t even look at author blogs.” So you might ask yourself, “So why should I bother?!” Well, because not all agents say that.
I don’t give my dog doggie treats because she’s too fat and doesn’t listen to me anyway. But after reading an interesting query, I go straight to the author’s website or blog to “see” who they are. If there’s nothing listed, I google them. Yup. I do.
“The voice of a novel is a fictional voice. Therefore, the novelist doesn’t need a platform,” one of my blog followers opines. (Hi Megan! Thanks for the e-mail!) And I think city children do need playgrounds because they suffer from a lack of greenspace and outdoor time but I rarely took my own kids to playgrounds because we live near the beach and quite a few nature preserves. I say the authors behind the fictional voices can benefit from a little platform to stand on.
Is being on Twitter, hearing what editors are saying, listening to agents tweet, going to hurt you? If the answer is yes, than definitely stay off Twitter. But if it will help you in your query process or in your writing, than skulk and/or participate in the conversation. In this competitive industry give yourself every advantage you can, for crying out loud.
If you’re going to play in the social media playground, don’t use it as an excuse not to write though. Put up a website with some basic information about yourself and walk away and work on your manuscript. Or, if you’ve got some discipline, start blogging a little. For fun. So you know how. So if an agent or editor does want more information about you we have something to see.
It’s like a good college application essay. When so many high school kids have 104% averages, perfect or near perfect scores on their SATs, enough community service hours to put flush toilets in all of India and leadership positions in all the right places, how does the college admissions office decide who to let in? They look at what stands out about the student. When I have 276 queries in my inbox and there are a number of manuscripts that all look promising, yet I’m being extremely selective in my offers of representation, how do I know who to choose? The author who has a smart or funny or interesting or quirky blog or website or Twitter feed, that’s who.
But that’s just me. I mean, I prefer powdered sugar to buttercream on my chocolate cake after all.
What playgrounds do you play in, actual or virtual?