On Nathan Bransford’s blog the other day, there was an interesting discussion about whether agents should blog and tweet. Apparently some writers think spending time on social networks means agents aren’t doing their real work.
It made me wonder whether these writers were complaining about agents on their own blogs and Twitter accounts. If so, why weren’t they doing their real work: writing?
I live in a virtual world. My work is all online, I communicate with most people I know using some sort of virtual connection, and even the books I write are currently only available if you have access to my laptop.
Connecting with people online is vital, and here’s my defense for why agents should be great at social networking.
1. I should hope to God that whoever becomes my agent is good at all networking.
I don’t have publishing connections. That’s why people have agents. I want someone who knows the industry, knows how it’s changing, and knows who to contact when it all goes pear-shaped. If my agent isn’t connecting with other people, then what exactly are they doing? It can’t all be contracts and reading.
Of course, networking doesn’t have to be public, and it doesn’t have to be online. But more and more, those are the places where people are conversing, and I want my agent to at least be aware of those conversations.
2. An agent would be able to contact me via social media faster than any other medium.
Imagine this: you’re a writer in the 1950s. An editor is interested in your work. They could send you a letter that’ll reach you in days…or they could send a carrier pigeon. Which one would you be looking out for?
Okay, it’s a stretch because a phone call is nearly as fast as Twitter. But I might not be able to answer my mobile at work, while Tweetdeck’s always open. There’s nothing wrong with an agent who’s comfortable with a variety of media.
Sure, if it’s private or important, give me a call. But if you want to say my latest revisions are brilliant, please feel free to do so publicly.
3. Getting an agent is a two-way process. I’m vetting them, too.
And I don’t mean that in a threatening way. I know that I should be professional online. I know an agent could be checking out my blog or Twitter profile without me knowing it.
Guess what. Writers should be doing the same. I see getting an agent as establishing a partnership. I’m good at writing, and I want someone who’s good at business deals. It matters that the person representing me is someone I can respect. It matters that other people in the industry respect them, too.
But most of all, I want to work with someone I like. There’s no way to know that from someone’s website. Getting an idea of someone’s personality before I send them a query will, hopefully, increase the chances of our relationship working out. I would never send someone a marriage proposal after reading their profile on a dating site, so why would I establish a business partnership with someone I don’t know?
4.The more popular my agent is, the more popular I will be.
Having a popular blog or lots of followers on Twitter means more people connect with that agent. I’d be surprised if this didn’t translate into more submissions. More submissions mean they can be choosier. If they’re choosy, they can build a list of the cream of the crop. I want to be creamy. And I want to be agency mates with other creamy people.
More than that, though, agents with a social media presence can help market a book with just a few seconds of their time. I’ll have to write for years before I have the same following some agents do. If I announce my book is being released, a few friends might re-tweet it or forward a link. If an agent does so, it has a much wider audience.
5. I want an agent, not a slave.
Take a break! Relax! Your job is tough – I get it and I want you to be mentally and emotionally healthy for both our sakes.
Lots of agents work from home or in an office with only a couple other people. I, personally, would go nuts if I did that. My work friends are so valuable, particularly when I’m stressed. I expect my agent to be super and human, but not superhuman. If your biggest supporters are online, get on there and tell them you’re having a bad day. Then feel the warm-fuzzies as they all try to cheer you on or cheer you up. Then get back to work.
6. The more great advice writers have access to, the more great books there will be.
I am, first and foremost, a reader. I’d be surprised if any author who’s debuted in the last three years got through the whole process without consulting an agent’s advice online. I can only imagine this advice makes for stronger drafts, stronger queries, and more people getting through the labyrinth to the inner circle. I’m not jealous of these people. If they write books I like, then the time agents have spent educating them is worth it.
What do you think about agents blogging and Tweeting? Do you have anything to add to my list? Do you think your opinion changes if you’re already agented?
Image by Twitter Icons