Authors aren’t the only ones utilizing the internet for their careers. Literary agents are searching for information about authors who query to help them decide whether to follow up with the writer.
One of the top reasons they search is to see if they can verify what the author says about their credentials.
Agents also look at the author’s social media pages to check how active they are (and to verify any numbers the authors has provided in their pitch materials).
They also judge how the author’s web presentation looks…sloppy or professional, all sites up to date, and other indicators that tell them they’re dealing with a serious author.
Spruce up your web presence before sending out that first query.
Very interesting and helpful – thank you.
You mention numbers used in pitches – any views on how much attention agents pay to the size of readership of a blog etc? Is anything under a certain level considered so much blah? I’d read somewhere that the number of readers was particularly important for non-fiction writers and that for fiction writers the key thing is to demonstrate that one is comfortable engaging in this way – but I’m sure a big audience can’t hurt.
You’re correct, a big audience never hurts.
However, it doesn’t always help.
An associate of mine was able to get commitments from people who have subscriber-based newsletters to help boost her book. The commitments would have sent the book’s information to 250,000 people in her target demographic. On top of that, her book was connected in a very direct and important way to a major motion picture that was a blockbuster at that moment. Something like over 60 publishers passed on her manuscript. So a quarter of a million–a staggering number for any non-celebrity author’s reach–was not enough in and of itself to make the sale.
The actual numbers can vary, too. You’ve got a pretty good take on nonfiction vs. fiction. Beyond that, Facebook might not work so well for your novel’s content but Twitter is perfect…and thus low numbers on Facebook don’t matter so much.
Mostly it’s an overall view: Is the author engaged with an audience of some type? Is the author working to create a following even before a publisher gets involved? All this means the author is willing to work hard alongside the team of agent, publisher, and acquisitions editor. And that’s worth more than just about anything else.
Thanks – really helpful. And the newsletter point is a good one – not sure whether I’m reassured (given the embryonic state of my own blog) or dismayed that even those kind of commitments aren’t enough to convince a publisher you’re worth taking a punt on!
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