Social Media Tips & Blog

How do you keep up with all the changes in social media algorithms?

Short answer: you don't.

For the long answer, watch this 1-minute video:

27 Ways to Excite Agents and Editors About You and Your Book

27 Ways to Excite Agents and Editors About You and Your Book

This article is reprinted with the author's permission. Note in particular #9, 12, and 14. These are items Ausoma can help you devlop.
  1. Your Professionalism
  2. Your query letter
  3. Your pitch
  4. The freshness, timeliness, salability, and promotability of your idea
  5. Your style
  6. The impact of your writing
  7. Your first line
  8. Your first page
  9. Your promotion plan
  10. The number of books you will sell a year
  11. The media that will give you time or space
  12. Your platform
  13. Your email list
  14. Your communities of writers, fans and publishing pros eager to help you
  15. Your test-marketing
  16. Telling them how many competing books you’ve read, how many drafts  you’ve done, and how many readers have given you feedback
  17. Your passion for the sharing the value of your work
  18. Your commitment to your craft and your career
  19. Your credentials
  20. Your book’s promotion potential
  21. Your book’s markets: consumers, schools, businesses, film/foreign rights
  22. Your commitments for a foreword and cover quotes
  23. Commitments from organizations to buy and promote the book
  24. Your future books
  25. Your knowledge of publishing and what it takes to succeed
  26. Your ability to build your brand
  27. Your video query showing how well you discuss your book
Mike Larsen / Author,  Author Coach / michaellarsenauthorcoaching.com
Co-director, San Francisco Writers Conference:
A Celebration of Craft, Commerce & Community
www.sfwriters.org /laurie@sfwriters.org
San Francisco Writing for Change Conference: Writing to Make a Difference
www.sfwritingforchange.org / laurie@sfwriters.org
1029 Jones Street / San Francisco, 94109 / 415-673-0939

Literary Agent Jennifer Chen Tran Answers My Questions

Jennifer Chen TranLiterary agent Jennifer Chen Tran graciously answered my questions. Thank you Jen! These questions were asked with the nonfiction author in mind. However, I let her know that if she had information that might differ for a fiction author, I'd love to know that as well.

What is the first step an author needs to take to find a literary agent? There's not one right way to find a literary agent, different methods work for different people. Publications like Writer's Digest Guide to Literary Agents or Jeff Herman's Guide to Book Publishers, Editors and Literary Agents, are good resources to start with and they are updated annually. There's also agent spotlights in various trade publications. I also suggest talking to other writers you know or looking at the Acknowledgements section of books you enjoy reading. Take notes. Read the agent's bio and get a sense of the authors she or he represents. This will help you narrow down the right agents for you.

Does an author need a literary agent in order to get a traditional publisher? Yes, if you are talking about the Big Five publishers. Editors and publishers need literary agents to be the initial gatekeepers since there is so much volume in the literary world. We sift and sort through the bad so that the editors can see what's good or better than good. Unless you have a direct relationship with an editor or are super famous (read: celebrity), it's difficult to get a book deal with the Book Five. On the other hand, if the publisher is independent or medium-sized, you may or may not need a literary agent to get a traditional deal. It depends on many factors such as whether you are a debut author, the type of book you are writing (fiction vs. non-fiction), etc.

Does a literary agent expect the author to already have in place the following: website, blog, social media presence on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn? For non-fiction I would say it's more important than ever to have a social media presence. At a minimum, you should have a website and/ or blog and some social media presence, whether it's on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. In my humble opinion, it's better to have a website than nothing at all but try to use your name as part of the website name. Also, more is not always better. If you are terrible at Twitter for instance, don't force yourself to do it 'just because,' but do try to stay open-minded about social media and see it from the publisher's perspective--who wouldn't want to buy a book from an author with a built-in audience? Social media is just one way to measure potential audience engagement but it's becoming very important, especially to secure non-fiction deals.

How often should an author blog? I think an author should blog at least twice a month. That seems to be a solid number that is realistic and won't subject readers to attention fatigue.

Is a larger social media following (i.e. many followers on Twitter) a factor in whether a literary agent or publisher accepts an author's manuscript over another author who may have a smaller social media following? I don't think social media would be the deciding factor, at least for me. I look at the whole picture--the book has to be compelling, the author has to be professional and work well with agent feedback, and yes, they do have to have a social media following of some sort but many of my authors have less established platforms when I sign them and we work together to achieve the most realistic social media numbers in a certain amount of time before pitching to publishers. So no, I don't use social media as a tie-breaker but it is important. As for publishers, you will have to ask them, but I do know that they take social media seriously and that often that is the weakest link in a proposal--sometimes the social media numbers just aren't high enough to warrant a deal for a particular book--there are always exceptions though.

Is a book proposal necessary to get a literary agent? A publisher? Does a fiction author need a book proposal? At this point in my career, I will not offer representation for a non-fiction author if the author doesn't have some semblance of a book proposal. The proposal doesn't need to be perfect but the author does need to show substantial effort and a solid understanding of who the audience is for his or her book and what the competitive books are. That gives me a really good sense of whether the author 'gets' why the book is needed and also how to market it. I believe the same is required of most, if not all publishers of non-fiction--if you don't know how to market your own book, how can you expect the publisher to do all the heavy lifting? Fiction is sold on the strength of the manuscript, not a proposal, so no, for fiction a book proposal is not needed.

Does a book proposal need to have a section about social media marketing? Yes, absolutely. Ignore at your own peril.

Does a literary agent and a traditional publisher do marketing for the author? I've been told, "Most agents don't care whether you have a website, a blog or a social media platform". I think any literary agent that is invested in his or her author's career would be willing to brainstorm marketing and promotion ideas. But the more you bring to the table as an author, the better. In my view, publishing and publishing well requires you to have a big picture mentality and that includes marketing! Marketing doesn't always have to be expensive to produce results but you do need to be strategic and not put all your eggs in one basket. Remember, agents work on commission--our job is to get you the best deal for your investment but we do not and should not have to originate all of your marketing ideas. Remember, this is your book, why wouldn't you want to use all the tools available to market your book successively and get the word out?

The more successful authors are those that take an active role in promotion and marketing, not those who passively expect the agent and/ or editor and publisher to do everything for them. While it's true that publishers do help with marketing and promotion, some of the best ideas again, come from the author. Publishers are relying more and more on authors to have original ideas regarding marketing and promotion--they will help you build a plan based on the foundation you have provided. And I heartily disagree with whomever said that agents don't care whether you have a website, blog, etc.--even for fiction, you need to build your author brand and presence, and that includes being on the internet! If I can't find an author online, whether for fiction or non-fiction, I really hesitate, as an agent. So the short of it is that the answer is somewhere in between: you can't do nothing but you aren't expected to do everything if you have the right partnership with the right publisher.

Jennifer Chen Tran
Literary Agent
Bradford Literary 
@jenchentran

Doing It for Love and a Living: How an Agent Can Help You

Adapted from How to Get a Literary Agent by Michael Larsen. Reprinted by permission.

How a Literary Agent Can Help YouAn agent is

  • A mediator between you and the marketplace
  • A scout who knows what publishers are looking for
  • An editor who can provide guidance that will make your work more salable
  • A matchmaker who knows which editors and publishers to submit your book to, and just as important, which to avoid
  • A negotiator who hammers out the best contract
  • An advocate who helps answer questions and solve problems for the life of your book
  • A seller of subsidiary rights
  • An administrator who keeps track of income and paperwork
  • A rainmaker who may be able to get assignments from editors
  • A mentor about your writing and career
  • An oasis of encouragement

7 Things Agents Can Do That Writers Can’t

  1. By absorbing rejections and being a focal point for your business dealings, your agent helps free you to write.
  2. As continuing sources of manuscripts, agents have more clout with editors than writers.
  3. Your share of sub-rights income will be greater, and you will receive it sooner if your agent, rather than your publisher, handles them.
  4. Your agent enables you to avoid haggling about rights and money with your editor.
  5. Your agent can advise you about publicity and self-publishing and may offer these services.
  6. Editors may change jobs at any time, and publishers may change direction or ownership at any time, so your agent may be the only stable element in your career.
  7. The selling of your book deserves the same level of skill, care, knowledge, experience, passion, and perseverance that you dedicate to writing it. An agent can't write your book as well as you can; you can't sell it as well as an agent can.
Mike Larsen / Author,  Author Coach / michaellarsenauthorcoaching.com
Co-director, San Francisco Writers Conference:
A Celebration of Craft, Commerce & Community
www.sfwriters.org /laurie@sfwriters.org
San Francisco Writing for Change Conference: Writing to Make a Difference
www.sfwritingforchange.org / laurie@sfwriters.org
1029 Jones Street / San Francisco, 94109 / 415-673-0939

Trust, Loyalty, and Long-Term Commitments

Did you know Ausoma doesn’t require long-term commitments from our clients? Our only contract is a service agreement stating the scope of work and cost, and an agreement to provide 30 days notice to cancel services. While we strongly recommend a 90 day commitment for new clients because it takes time to achieve results, no client is bound to us by a long-term contract. We take the risk, not the client.

Yet most stay long term.

If people stay when they don’t have to, spend their hard earned money with no contractual obligation forcing them, there must be something else keeping them.

If you'd like to find out what that is, just ask.