There are five questions in the series that Miss Expatria submitted. We will post the questions and answers one at a time here. Here’s the second in the series.
Question: How much has online social networking changed the way you do business, both in your dealings with potential clients and with the industry as a whole? Do you think this phenomenon will force the process to evolve over time?
Answer: Social networking per se, hasn’t affected the way I personally do business. The structure of how writers contact agents would have to be redefined and changed before much effect would be noticed. Most agents don’t solicit business, at least not in a conventional sense. Size, location and reputation have more bearing on who we are than anything else. Unfortunately, more emphasis these days placed on location than anything else as novice writers believe that being located in or close to NYC gives agents opportunities those of us outside the city don’t have. However, if an agent is known, has a track record for being able to find books editors want to publish, and is easy to work with, location means little in this business.
Social networking does a great job in giving potential clients a view of who we really are and in that respect networking has helped let those seeking agents know who we REALLY are. My current approach is to be out there more as a person rather than as an agent. Agents have gotten such a bad rap because of a few bad apples that if an agent looks to be too solicitous, danger alarms go off. With all the horror stories floating around on the internet about scammers, it’s no wonder writers are cautious. However, most agents actually like people, especially purple ones with orange stripes.
Because of the nature of the querying process, a literary agent, many times, is the first and possibly the only contact with publishing a new writer experiences. And because of the very nature of the query process, this experience might be very discouraging. Most writers experience rejection early on at the hands of a frustrated agent who, to keep up with his or her massive query load, will usually send a cold, canned rejection letter to all writers while muttering under his breath—“Dumb Ass!” Social networking does help remove some of social stigma caused by this frustrating experience. Writer and agents, know that we aren’t who each of us perceive the other to be so networking allows us to show our real, hopefully not to scary, faces to the public and gives us the opportunity to help each other en mass rather than one at a time, which we don’t often have the time, energy, or the opportunity to do.