Social Media Tips & Blog

Blogging, Your Social Media Platforms, and Finding a Literary Agent

Blogging, Your Social Media Platforms, and Finding a Literary AgentA freelance editor emailed me for advice on an author’s view of blogging, social media, and finding a literary agent for their book.

“I'm writing to ask for a bit of advice from a social media expert's point of view. I have a client who is getting ready to shop their nonfiction book. I've been encouraging this client for a year to build their social media platform, but my client was resistant to doing so until they finished writing the book and proposal.”

The author’s only social media presence is on LinkedIn, though they plan to start using Twitter – tweeting only twice a week! They do have a blog – only four posts in the past year with a plan to post a new blog weekly. The author is considering having their web designer create a section where guest bloggers could post – without first being vetted. The author thought having a guest blog post section should be mentioned in the book proposal.

Another blogger had approached this author offering to be a guest blogger. However, the editor noted that this blog looks like a small, personal blog—no mailing list, no way to contact the author.

“I don't think this blogger is an asset to my author right now – they have two old blogs posted [both over a year old], that's it. I'm inclined to tell my client not to do this, but mostly I don't want any guest writer to hurt my client—would posting their guest blog potentially do that? I've encouraged my client to contact you for help, but so far, he's been resistant to doing anything except wait. I'd appreciate your advice about this.”

This author’s approach to blogging, social media, and attracting a literary agent is not unique. Many authors I work with start out with these:

Common Misconceptions

  • “I don’t need a website, blog, or social media platforms until I finish my book.”
  • “Blogging once or twice a month is plenty. I don’t have much to blog about anyhow. I’m busy writing my book. I’ll have some guest bloggers for additional content.”
  • “I’ll start tweeting and get on other social media platforms once my book is published.”
  • “My book proposal is enough, and I don’t need a large following on social media to get a good literary agent.”

Literary Agents Expect Authors to Have in Place:

  • An established website, including a blog (consistent blogging on a weekly basis for a year or more). Guest bloggers are tricky (more about that in a bit).
  • Established social media platforms with a decent number of followers on each platform. Learn more about that in this article posted by a literary agency: “7 Ways Agents Measure Social Media.”
  • A marketing plan in your book proposal that includes your social media marketing and book promotion plan.

Blogging has impact on your social media presence. However, blogging just once or twice a month won’t get you noticed. The more you can blog, the more impact you’ll have. And tweeting only twice a week won’t get you noticed at all. There are some good tips and interesting statistics on this found in the article “The 5 Commandments for a High Impact Social Media Presence.” If you can be a guest blogger on a well established blog, this can have a very good impact on your efforts.

However, having a guest blogger on your own blog can be tricky if not done right. There are some rules to follow. I do not recommend allowing guest bloggers to post on your site without vetting their posts first. Be sure anything they write is relevant to your topic. Your guest blogger should also have a well-established blog (over a year old) with at least weekly posts. It's not beneficial to have a guest blogger who doesn't already have a solid blog themselves and in fact, it can be harmful to allow a guest blogger on your site when their own site is outdated. A guest blogger should also be willing to share the blog with their own established social media networks. For more rules about guest blogging read the article “Don’t Accept Guest Posts Unless You Follow These 7 Rules.”

To learn more about what to include in your Social Media section in your book proposal, read editor Candace Johnson’s guest post on our site: “Your Social Media: What to Include in Your Book Proposal”.

My advice to the editor was to provide all this information, including the links to other sources, and encourage the author to start blogging regularly and establish solid social media platforms before reaching out to literary agents. I discouraged the idea of the guest blogger since they had only two blog posts of their own – both over a year old. If an author wants to get noticed, they need to ensure a solid social media presence.

If you’d like to ensure your social media presence is what a literary agent is looking for, contact me for my “Peace of Mind Social Media Audit & Consultation”.

5 Ways to Provide the Fresh Blog Content Your Fans Crave

We've all seen a teenager open the refrigerator for the thirteenth time hoping miraculously that a pizza has appeared where only broccoli lay before.

There’s a marvelous scene in one of the Crocodile Dundee movies where someone points out that his hotel room has a television. He turns it on saying, “I've seen television before.” As the I Love Lucy theme fades in he says, “Yup, that’s what was on”.

Can you imagine if the food in the fridge really never changed or if the show on television was actually always the same?

There are some activities in life which hinge on variety, newness, change, to keep our attention. Eating the same foods over and over again gets boring fast – even pizza.

The single greatest reason for potential fans (which means potential purchasers of your book) to visit your website is to find something new.

… more … "5 Ways to Provide the Fresh Blog Content Your Fans Crave"

Worst Advice for Sending Emails

I’ve been asked more than once to help a client download all their contacts from LinkedIn and upload them to MailChimp to send them emails promoting the client's business.

First, this is in violation of the CAN-SPAM Act. Each violation can result in fines up to $10,000.

Second, just because you’re connected on LinkedIn doesn’t give you the go-ahead to send them promotional emails. LinkedIn has a messaging tool that’s very effective to get in touch with connections. I’ve used LinkedIn to reach out to connections and set up ‘get-to-know-you’ chats so we can each learn more about the other. This is the beginning of building a relationship. It does not give me permission to add them to my email list.

Go ahead and download your LinkedIn contacts. Email people individually to get to know them. Do not email them just to sell to them.

LinkedIn is a great social media tool for professionals. As with any social media tool, it can be abused. Let’s remember to be social!

The Super Bowl is Over. Let's Get Back to Marketing.

Every year we notice a slump from the beginning of December through the weekend of the Super Bowl. In December, everyone spends their money on things other than business expenses. Then, in January, everyone stops spending altogether.

We've learned over the years that December is the natural time for us to spend a week off work, analyzing the year's activities, what worked well and why, and planning for the coming year. We set business and personal goals, then follow up all year long, monthly, quarterly, and again at year end.

We've also learned that expending effort marketing in January can be a complete waste of time—if we do it wrong. January is the time to keep it very personal, stay on people's radar, share freely, to make our marketing message "We understand you're not ready right now, but when you are, we'll be ready, too, and here's why we might be a good match when it's time." (That's not as succinct as I'd like.)

It's the Tuesday after the big game, and things are going to get back to normal. That means marketing can serve not just to stay on folks' radar, but to educate and attract, moving the right people toward our offerings, turning into the fun and games of doing business. (If you're not having fun marketing your book and your business, let's talk, shall we?)

Let Insiders (and Outsiders) Choose Themselves

We all subscribe to newsletters we mean to read and then don't. And then we transfer that feeling to our readers and worry they've done the same thing. I combat that by regularly asking folks to unsubscribe. (And if I discover I'm not reading a newsletter, I unsub myself. There's only so much time. We can't do it all. What we cull is as important as what we keep.)

Telling them it's okay to leave helps cull the folks who are staying because they're too nice to unsubscribe.

Everyone is busy. I see the choices as (a) be easy to ignore, and become One of Those Newsletters, or (b) be so good they don't want to ignore you.

Yeah, (b) is harder. It's also the professional choice.