Blogger: Wendy Lawton
Location: Traveling home from the Pacific Northwest
Disclaimer: These observations are based largely on my own practices and those I’ve observed from the many agents I know and admire. But each agent is different (just like each writer) and has different strengths and weaknesses. When it comes to your experience with agents YMMV. (Your mileage may vary.)
This week we’ve been trying to decode the sometimes mystifying communication, or non-communication, with agents. But what about informal contact with agents? Does it mean anything when an agent intentionally “friends” a writer on Facebook? How about when an agent seeks a writer out at a writer’s conference and knows that writer’s name or something about what he’s writing? How about if an agent is following you on Twitter? What about if he leaves comments on your blog?
Agents are human beings as well as professionals, and most of us love interacting with people both in personand in our online social networks. Those contacts may mean different things to different people, but here’s a rule of thumb: our business is highly relational. I won’t represent someone I don’t like. It doesn’t matter how successful they are, if we don’t connect, it won’t work. So part of being in this community is getting to know other writers and editors via social media.
If an agent calls you by name at writer’s conferences or seems to seek you out, it’s a very good thing. We meet a lot of people. When an agent remembers names and even what the writer is working on, it means you’ve made an impression. It probably signals an initial interest.
If an agent asks to friend you on Facebook, that’s intentional. They are interested in you. If you are already agented, it may be because they have found your books and have become a fan. It may be that they don’t know you’re agented or it may be just because they think you are interesting. Maybe you post the best recipes or great photos. Regardless, it’s a relationship.
If you ask to friend an agent on Facebook and they accept, it can mean something or it can mean nothing. They may just accept everyone whose name they recognize or who shows connections to the writing community. It doesn’t matter. As they begin to follow you, relationship can grow. And relationship is the key, right?
What about Twitter? It’s the same thing. It’s a place to connect. It can mean something or mean nothing. But it offers the possibility to get to know one another. Don’t forget, as you retweet, those tweets are highlighted for the one you are retweeting–a nice little shout-out. Being busy, I have to admit to not being as engaged on Twitter as I’d like to be, but I still notice the people who interact with me or retweet.
Do blog comments mean anything? If an agent goes to your blog, reads it and comments, it certainly does mean something. None of the agents I know has time to be idly surfing the ‘Net. If an agent has gone to your blog, that’s intentional. He’s interested in you for one reason or another. If he’s commented, that’s even more intentional since his name is linked with yours. Does this mean something more? There’s no way to know, but it’s a definite sign you’re on the radar.
And speaking of blog comments, it never hurts for you to leave comments on the blogs of agents and editors who interest you. Blog comments are a way of entering into the conversation. We’ve said it before, but here at Books & Such, we do pay attention to writers who read our blog. To us it’s a sign of engagement– a sign that the writer is not afraid of due diligence and he’s learning as much as he can about us and about the industry. We notice.
Comment: What subtle communication have we missed? Does it make you crazy how relational this industry really is? Is it unfair to shy writers or literary hermits? How does one communicate well with agents without losing all pride and looking like a sychophant?