By Lynn Chandler Willis-
Like most writers these days, I have a love/hate relationship with social media. Yes, it can be one giant time vacuum. We’re talking the granddaddy of vacuums—we’re talking Dyson. But writers need a life. Right? So the hours spent on Facebook are in the best interest of my career, right?
They can be.
With all the moaning about the downside of social media (mainly the time aspect), we writers tend to overlook the sheer beauty of what the various platforms provide: accessibility. Never before have we had the opportunity to be “friends” with so many publishers, agents, and other writers. Conferences are expensive and not everyone can afford to attend the more popular ones, the ones where big-name editors and agents are most likely to show up.
Years ago, the only way to meet agents and editors was to attend conferences and hope you make the cut for a pitch session. Or hopefully grab a seat in their standing-room-only panel discussion. Or you could follow them into the bar, or restroom, or hotel elevator. In which case, if you’re like most writers, you’re a bit introverted so that elevator ride is probably going to be rather quiet. And the restroom thing—not cool. At all.
That’s where social media comes in. It’s much more pleasant, for all parties involved, to find an agent and follow them on Twitter than to follow them into a bathroom! If you prefer Facebook, send them a friend request. Follow their RSS feed. Comment on their posts. And comment again. And again. You know you’re getting somewhere when the agent starts to comment on your comments.
I’m “friends” with and follow several agents. I’ve had these cyber relationships for a year or more with various agents, and like any good relationship, it takes time to build. I’ve been in the business long enough to say I’ve sent my share of query letters to agents, without much success. But social media opened up not only a whole new door, but a golden door for me. Through Facebook, I was able to establish a friendly relationship with different agents before seeking a business relationship with just one. And even then, when I did approach the agent through a private message, it wasn’t intended to be a query. I simply had a question, between friends, about the industry. That cyber conversation turned into a phone chat, which turned into longer talk which turned into an offer of representation.
Social media not only helped me find my agent, it allowed me the opportunity to get to know her as a person before ever signing a contract. To me, that’s just as important as how many deals they’ve made. If I don’t respect and like you as a person, how am I ever going to feel comfortable trusting you with my career?
So go ahead and follow a couple of agents. You might be surprised where it can lead.
Lynn Chandler-Willis has worked in the corporate world (hated it!), the television news business (fun job) and the newspaper industry (not a fan of the word “apparently” and phrase “according to”). But she keeps coming back to fiction because she likes making stuff up. She is the author of the best-selling true crime book, Unholy Covenant. Her debut novel, The Rising (Pelican Book Group, 2013) won the 2013 Grace Award for Excellence in Faith Based Fiction and was a finalist for an INSPY award. In October 2013, she was the first woman in a ten-year span to be named winner of the Minotaur Books/Private Eye Novel Writers of America Best First Private Eye Novel competition for her novel, Wink of an Eye, to be released by Minotaur in Nov. 2014.