In an age of new media where the rules are changing faster than we can write them, it would make sense that publishing rules are changing too, wouldn’t it? Does it still make sense to query an agent, go to conferences and network with other writers? Or should you just sit home and blog and hope someone finds you online? Truth be told, it’s a combination of all of it. Sites like Twitter have really leveled the playing field. If used effectively, Twitter can really help you to leverage your market. You don’t have to be a superstar when you start on Twitter but you can certainly become one by being on it. Then of course there’s blogging, and social networking, video and on and on. So what should a budding author do to get noticed? Or, perhaps you have self-published a book and want to get a mainstream house to pick it up. The key here is to first identify your goals, then find ways to go after them both online and off.
Queries, do they make sense?
Yes they do. Publishing still lives by a few standards and this is one of them. There is a process and you should still respect it. This doesn’t mean that you won’t wake up someday to an email from a publisher or agent who has read your blog and wants to publish it (yes, some publishers will publish blogs) but until that happens, the submission process is a sacred, old world tradition that isn’t likely to go away anytime soon.
Does networking matter?
Yes but here’s the good news. You don’t have to fly around the country to every conference to do this. You can network right from your own home. The key is to find a network that works, and stay connected. That network could be on Twitter, Facebook, Squidoo, it could even be through your blog, other blogs you follow or, an old fashioned email connection. Whatever it is, it’s easier than ever these days to stay in touch with people without having to hop a plane to do so.
Facebook strategies, what will get you noticed?
Social networking is a great way to get noticed but if you’re using the page as your own personal go-to site for friends and family, then you’re not using it to its full potential. Design your Facebook page to support your work: make sure your blog is feeding to Facebook, keep the site updated with current projects, events, you can even use it to become a filter if necessary. The key is, use Facebook as your professional resume. You should also consider “friending” people who are in similar industries, you can even go in and friend a publisher or two, you never know where this Facebook friendship could lead.
What’s considered a “good” online presence?
A good online presence is one that helps build your platform. So a web site and blog, a social networking page and if you’re really ready to push yourself online, maybe even a Twitter account. You should also consider a newsletter sign-up on your home page or an RSS feed to your blog. Publishers like to see when authors are building their tribe and once you start adding subscribers, you can also mention this to the publishers you’re pitching.
What are the key pieces that publishers find attractive in a new author?
Your book is your resume: if you decide to self-publish as a means to get the book out there and/or find a publisher, remember that your book really is your resume. You would never send a resume to a potential employer that was full of typos, right? You should never send a book out into the world that isn’t letter perfect. The quickest way to get noticed is by publishing quality work, the quickest way to get dismissed is by producing junk. Second, they want an author who knows his or her market and, if you’re connected to it online, all the better.
Do publishers really care about all of this stuff?
You bet they do. When a publisher is considering an author, they will often look at the author’s “reach” or platform, you can start pulling this together by working your Internet base, building your followers and getting buzz going on your book or topic even before it’s published.
So what can I do right now to get started?
1) Get a web site
2) Start a blog
3) Get to know your online community, where do they hang out, what blogs do they read. You should be reading and commenting on those blogs. Get to know your virtual neighbors.
4) Find out how you can be of service. This is particularly true of non-fiction authors: find out what the need is and figure out how to fill that need. There’s no quicker way to becoming a trusted resource than by becoming a trusted source.
The Internet has really leveled the playing field when it comes to getting published, getting noticed, and building a platform. With some marketing and careful effort, you can build your platform/audience base, and gain some much needed attention for your work. The years of sitting in some publisher’s slush pile are gone. Now, thanks to sites like Facebook, Squidoo, and Twitter you can cultivate a voice, audience and, if you’re lucky, even a publisher!