Tuesday, 15 March 2011


Diana Fox and Shana Cohen
Literary agents extraordinaire

My thanks to: 

Atlanta, Georgia, United States MG/YA Author represented by Alyssa Eisner Henkin (Trident Media Group); Marketing Consultant

Perhaps, it doesn't matter who conducted the interview, nor which agent was discussing online presence and marketing, the advice began the same:

The Three Pillars of Presence:

1) Have an online presence – a basic website with information about how to contact you and information about your books. Every author has to perfect a method of reaching out to the target audience.

2) Network. Authors should cultivate relationships both with potential readers and with people in the industry, like fellow authors, librarians, booksellers, and other publishing professionals. Some ways to do this include:
  • going to conferences
  • joining writers organizations (such as the Authors Guild, RWA and SCBWI)
  • establishing relationships with local booksellers and librarians
  • offering to do school visits and talk to book clubs (either remotely or in person)
  • attending events to support fellow authors
  • authors promoting one another by doing things like participating in group blogs, retweeting and interviewing and guest blogging for one another, giving away books by other authors, planning events together, etc.
  • being active in writing forums like Backspace/Absolute Write/Verla Kay/OWW/Romance Divas
  • interacting personally with readers online
  • have other interests and participate in other communities that aren't directly related to writing and publishing.
3)    Authors need to care about--and talk about--more than just themselves and their books, and often, other people who share their non-writing interests will be a good potential audience for the author's books as well. (That Garston Ladies FC connection is looking like a good link – I knew the MG “Girl Power League,” (TMEAMS)  following the highs and lows of the girls' U10s football team was a good idea  – arf! – no ROFL :D

 Then came the scary section - it makes me glad I comment more thoughtfully than "Great post" and worry over every word I write:

As an agent, when evaluating whether to take on an author or book, I'm assuming you Google them.

Yes--and sometimes I Google them even earlier. If I see a fantastic query and request the manuscript right away, I’ll often Google because I’m excited to learn more about the author. If I’m on the fence, sometimes I’ll Google to see if they have a blog or website with further excerpts from the book I’m considering requesting, to help make up my mind.

And when I’m thinking of offering representation, I go through everything I can find: blog posts, Twitter, Facebook, posts on message boards and writing forums, online publications, etc. Mainly because I want to make sure my clients know how to act professional in public, but I also want to see what they bring to the table (in addition to a great book, of course!) and their online presence is a part of that.
I knew there was a reason why taking time over what to write was a good idea.

When it comes to commenting, I'm with m'Mam and Thumper:  "If you can't say something nice... don't say nothing at all." :P

Did the extent of the Google Search surprise you? Was it really just me who was shocked?


  1. My online presence was just my blog and facebook page. There is a volley ball person who is "summer Ross" as well so all my stuff is mixed in with hers. LOL

  2. Interesting post!

    Google Search does come up with a lot of results--I'm mixed in with a lot of sports teams. :P

  3. I've read that agents Google you before requesting a partial, but I didn't know the extent they delve into our online presence. Yikes. Never let anybody post those party pictures of you on Facebook. Or make sure to untag them if they do. Could have dire consequences. I used to try to keep track of forums like Absolute Write, but how do we fit that many hours into the day? I think if an agent really only wants writers who spend 18 hours a day social networking, they're looking for marketers, not good writers, and the quality of their clients will show that. Not sure I'd go there.

  4. Hi Summer
    I can see you lofting that volleyball - are you sure it really isn't you? ;)

    Hi GE
    Another sporty/writer hybrid :)

    Hi Anne
    Uber-scary! At first, I was surprised by the depth of the research then I remembered how much research I do for a throw-away line about a place I make my characters drive through.
    Oh dear, all those times I've refused to stress over typos is going to come back and bite me on the butt ;)

  5. Great post. I try to keep up my Facebook and Twitter accounts with humorous posts. My blog just recently got a facelift after I abandoned it for entirely too long. I never thought about an agent Google-ing you after receiving a query.

  6. Hi Alicia
    Thanks :D
    I'm glad you revamped your blog - I took a quick look very crisp and clear.The depth of the search was a big surprise to me.
    I work to use Twitter with enough depth - but I get side tracked by reading so many fascinating articles. Posting daily on the Blog is hard - Facebook is my weakest link.