Don’t worry; this is only a mild rant. Actually it’s more of a sigh of “Oh, well. More conflicting information,” than a frustrated outburst.
What’s my problem THIS time, you ask?
In late 2004 I signed with a literary agent for representation. One of his requirements before he would present my manuscript to publishers was that I maintain a blog. It had to have daily posts that were well-written, and I was to build readership as quickly as possible. He wanted to see at least several months’ worth of it before he would start pitching my book.
His explanation, based (he said) on several personal experiences with publishers, was that if a publisher liked an author’s work, he (or she—I’ll use “he”) would want to read the author’s blog to determine several things. Is this author a “compulsive writer?” Can this author write about diverse topics and maintain a reader’s interest. Does this author understand the importance of having a web presence so when people Google his name they’ll find lots of information? Does this author know that readers like for authors to come across as “real, regular people,” and not as celebrity snobs?
(That gives you the general idea.)
So I, dutiful newbie that I am to the publishing world, set up “Romantic Ramblings” and posted all kinds of things. I wrote in very informal “down home” style, and I wrote in sophisticated language with $2 words. I posted something just about every day. I read other blogs and commented, which generated return visits from other bloggers and an active blogroll. I have grown to really enjoy putting some kind of post up here on most days, and browsing other blogs and commenting.
I’ve learned a lot and made new friends.
And, since a REAL LITERARY AGENT told me it was important to have a blog, I’ve put my blog URL on all correspondence, author’s business cards, etc.
... SIGH ...
Well, as you regulars know I’ve been querying agents for new representation. One source of information about agents who list themselves as “actively seeking clients” (which is a joke in some cases, but that’s another rant), is a web site called AgentQuery.com.
AgenQuery.com very recently put out an article on the Top Five Reasons for being an Immediate Reject (when querying an agent). Guess what reason number 5 is.
Give up? Okay, I’ll share it with you:
Immediate Reject #5: Listing your blog or author website on your query.
Writers' blogs are so ubiquitous nowadays that it's kinda eerie. Like the internet is turning into a literary-voyeuristic-twilightzone-reality-internet-freak-fest. And there seems to be this strange idea percolating out there in cyberland that navel-gazing blogs and self-stitched author websites are synonymous with having a "web presence.”
First of all, web presence is sorely overrated. What "web presence" means to you—a few hundred daily visitors—means spit to Random House, and agents know this. Second of all, it’s a fact that it takes the average web user less than 5 seconds to judge the merit of a website. It's also a fact that web users are very unforgiving, including writers. We often judge an agent's legitimacy by the professional "look" (or lack thereof) conveyed through her website. So what's stopping agents from judging us in the same way? Why would agents be any less forgiving when they visit our authors' blogs or websites to judge the writer behind the writing?
Guess what? They’re not. So if you want agents to judge the merits of your writing, not the merits of you as a writer as conveyed by your website or blog, then don't give them extra reasons for an immediate reject. "
WELL, o-KAY then. I guess all those published authors who maintain a web site of their own (and some write blogs!) established their web presence after they signed with an agent and had a publishing contract, huh?
**Pounds head on desk**
Well, at least now I know (or at least have a good excuse) WHY I’ve received consistent replies from agents that my book is “not right for their lists.” It’s my BLOG, of course. DUH!
(Or the fact that I list its URL on every query.)
... SIGH ...