A freelance editor emailed me for advice on an author’s view of blogging, social media, and finding a literary agent for their nonfiction 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:
- “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 Nonfiction Authors to Have in a Book Proposal:
- 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”.
You might benefit from Joel's follow-up to this post.