Most writers are interested in meeting literary agents and editors of literary journals in order to get a foot in the door. In the old days, publishers tended to be much more closed off to creative writers. Unless you attended writing conferences, the only ways to try and break into the community were snail mail or an awkward (often ill-received) phone call. But now, the Internet—and social networking—has opened up worlds of opportunities for “Lone Ranger” writers all across the country.
Literary agents and editors are hanging out on the Web, and they’re interested in connecting with you. Here’s where you can find them.
1. Twitter. Lots of agents and editors of literary magazines are tweeting. They tweet about calls for submissions, contests, and work they have accepted or are proud of. Twitter is a relatively open social network that allows a writer to follow a potential agent without necessarily having to get around privacy controls. So go ahead and follow your favorite agent—and if he or she posts about a new book deal, why not tweet a note of congrats?
2. Blogs. A number of literary agents have steady blogs (you can find them by Googling “literary agent blog”). By commenting regularly, intelligently, and politely, you may catch a literary agent’s or editor’s eye. Establish yourself as a human being worthy of attention, and you may find your submission floats to the top of the pile.
3. Online writing classes. Sometimes, literary agents and editors will teach online classes for various writing groups. Often, these classes aren’t accredited. Anyone can join. Not only will you meet literary agents and editors, you’ll also learn a thing or two!
4. Facebook. Few literary agents and editors will accept your friend request for access to a personal profile on Facebook. At Writer’s Relief we’ve got a thriving Facebook community of writers. But if you’re hoping to network with literary agents and editors, Facebook might not be the best place to start.
A few more tips for successful online networking
1. Keep any emails brief, friendly, and grammatical.
2. Don’t stalk. Obviously. That’s just scary.
3. Be positive. No tweeting about bellyaches and bad days at the office.
4. Keep it light.
5. Don’t ask for things. Really. Don’t. Networking has to be about developing relationships first and foremost. Then, if it feels natural, go ahead and gently ask.
6. Don’t demand people read too much of your creative writing. Posting too much of your writing online can say to an agent or editor “this person can’t get anyone else to publish his/her work.”
7. Start an author website that people can go to so they can learn more about you and your current projects.
8. Be helpful.
9. Follow through with any promises you make.
10. Have fun! (If you’re not having fun, people will know it. And nobody wants a spoil-sport at the party!)
Since 1994, Writer’s Relief has been helping our clients through the maze that is the publishing world. We keep our clients up to date, AND we manage the submission process. See if you’re eligible to join our client list!
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QUESTION: If you were a literary agent, what would you think if a writer approached you via a social networking site?
If I were an agent, I think I wouldn’t mind if somebody made friends with me online. Then, if the followed my generic instructions and sent me a query letter (or whatever) and I thought “oh yeah, this person is that person on Twitter who keeps retweeting my stuff” then I think I might be willing to give their book a read…or at least see some sample pages. Agents aren’t mean people generally i don’t think. if they were they wouldn’t be agents! you have to be a people person to an extent to sell books.
I think Twitter makes it really easy to interact with agents without annoying them.