Oh, hello #PitMad / #PitchMatch / etc. participants! I didn’t see you there. Come on in, have a seat.
Did I favorite your tweet during a pitch event on the ol’ Twitter? Awesome. That means I want to read your stuff. Gimme. Here’s what to do to make sure I get your query and partial manuscript:
1. Start composing that email! You’re going to want to send your query on over to email@example.com. Please don’t use my personal email here on this blog. When you send an email to the query box, all the agents at P.S. get to see it. That way, if it isn’t for me, someone else might scoop it up. We like to share!
2. In your Subject, put Twitter Request for Eric and the title of your book. There are almost always a few P.S. Literary agents participating in Twitter pitch events, so you want to make sure yours gets to me.
3. In your email, include your Twitter handle, your Twitter pitch, your full query letter, and attach the first 50 pages of your manuscript. Attaching those pages is important. If you paste that much, it’ll probably get cut off.
4. Click send!
If I’m interested, you’ll certainly hear back from me in a few weeks.
This semester, I had a great time teaching my first graduate-level publishing class at Rosemont College. It was a real thrill, spending so much time with students eager to get into the industry, and exploring different ways to venture in. Some were aspiring editors, others wanted to get into publicity. The class? A marketing course.
A lot of the course touched on social media, as well as discussing ways to utilize various publishing-industry-specific tools when working on publicity and marketing campaigns.
I loved it so much, I thought maybe I should start blogging about some of the stuff I dished out. Maybe take some lessons from my pals and colleagues Carly and Maria over at P.S. Literary, and start doing advice-type-things on the ol’ blog.
So, this is the first of what I hope will be many.
There are a lot of reasons why I’m on social media. I use it to network with people in the publishing world, keep track of news both locally in Philadelphia, nationally in, you know, the world, and keep an eye on what’s going on in the book industry. I meet new authors, both as a fan and as potential clients. I tweet out links to things I find interesting and hope others will too.
But I don’t think of it as a place to sell books. Because social media seldom does that well.
Now, there are certainly a few exceptions to the “social media doesn’t sell books” claim. When an eBook deal hits for a book that plenty of people love and an author is able to rally their friends around it… well, that can do wonders. But that’s a $1.99 eBook we’re talking about, not your $17.99+ novel.
“Then why am I even on here?!” You scream to the heavens, your finger hovering over the ‘delete account’ button in your Twitter’s settings.
Calm down. This is why.
What social media will do, is make you part of a community. It’ll endear you to readers. It’ll serve as buy-in for someone thinking about covering you and your book. And later on down the line… maybe the result of that will sell a book. Maybe.
But again. That’s not why you’re on there. For sales. You should be on there for other perks. Let’s dig in.
Sometimes you just wanna hug your favorite authors.
1. ENDEARMENT & WHY I’VE BOUGHT THE SAME BOOK EIGHT TIMES: Like every book lover ever, I spend way too much time fussing over my personal library. Moving this book here or there, buying a new box set so I have to shift an entire shelf. Maybe I’m having a rough day, so I just decide to go all High Fidelity on the collection, reorganize it autobiographically or some such silliness.
Whenever I do this, there are a few books that always stay in place. Two dozen or so. Written by authors that I’ve become pals with on the ol’ social media. Some I’ve never even met, some I’ve only seen once or twice at a convention. But these are the books I talk about with people the most. And this is a huge takeaway for authors and social media that people don’t consider enough.
Social media has the power to endear you to your followers and fans.
See, social media has endeared the authors and their books to me. And this, in my opinion, is the number one reason to be on social media as a writer.
Publishing is always trying to figure out how to get consumers to know about their books. “Discoverability” is a fancy buzzword that gets tossed around a lot. And the most powerful method of discoverability isn’t big ol’ ads, book trailers, microsites, marketing campaigns, etc.
It’s word of mouth from passionate fans and book lovers.
Following people that love your work, booksellers you admire, communicating with other authors. They’ll keep those special books on their shelves, and tell their friends about them.
It’s an emotional connection. That’s something no amount of ad money can buy.
2. COMMUNITY & NOT BEING “THAT GUY” AT THE PARTY: When I have a bit of book news, there are a handful of authors I tend to send a big ol’ BCC email to, or bug on gchat, or hit up via DM on Twitter. If we weren’t friends and in the same community, chances are this would result in an irritated email back or a subtweet, and then zero results.
But when you’re part of a community, the result is wonderful.
Signal boosting cover reveals, eBook sales, new deals, etc. Blog posts listing books, including maybe yours. Reviews on Goodreads. Group blogs for debut authors (lookin’ at you, Swanky Seventeens). No matter your genre, there’s a community out there for you, full of writers, booksellers, bloggers, librarians, and readers that will bolster you up.
And now, for a quick lesson.
One question I get a lot regarding joining a community, is figuring out how to actively participate IN said community. How do you build a following? Make friends? It’s easy.
I want you to think back to every house party or college bash you’ve ever been to.
When you walk in, and people start talking to you… do you want to talk to the person who won’t shut up about themselves, or to the person who asks you questions? Who inquires about your projects, wants to know you, wants to talk about you to other people? Who takes the time to introduce you around?
Think about social media and joining the online community like a party. Chances are, you’ll make more friends and more connections by being genuine, by being curious, and by taking a vested interest in others. If you’re just at the party to talk about YOU, no one will want to hangout with you.
Don’t. Be. That. Guy.
There are a lot of reasons why writers write. To tell a story, maybe educate. But one thing you probably don’t think about going into all of it, is the community that you’ll inevitably discover. And finding your people, like minded folks… that’s another reason to put pen to page.
When I announced WELCOME HOME back in February, I didn’t expect to hear from several dozen authors and book lovers that were adopted. My entire life, I maybe knew a handful of adopted kids, who moved in and out of my life. Once that announcement hit, I suddenly knew close to a hundred. I might have cried a bit. Or a lot. It was probably a lot.
Joining a community makes you feel like you’re part of something bigger. You discover a support system you didn’t know you had. Social media is the perfect way to find your bookish people.
Don’t let this happen to you!
3. BUY-IN BUT NOT SALES, DON’T GET EXCITED: When I say ‘buy-in’ I don’t mean purchasing.
When you have a book ready to hit the market, having an online presence is an important way to encourage people to learn more about you not just as a writer, but as a person. The books I love the most and talk about the most aren’t just written by talented writers. They’re written by good people I admire.
If you’ve ever been to a conference ever, you’ve likely been talked to death about platform.
Someone can check out your social media profile, your website that lists your writing, the articles you’ve posted on your site… and know a few things right away. Are you the kind of author who might draw people to their bookstore, if you’re say, plotting an event? Are you someone that might be good on a panel? If you’re unagented, and querying around, are you part of the community? If they are a person in the media, a book blogger or an editor at a magazine, can they learn about you quickly to help with potential pieces?
There are a ton of things that having an established online presence helps with, and this is a big one.
They can be fun!
4. #HASHTAG: THE AUTHOR-CENTRIC ONLINE EVENTS: Still querying? Don’t have a book out just yet? Besides all the other reasons I just listed (which yes, you should still be active on social media in the book community even if you don’t have a book on its way), the author-centric hashtag events are a must reason to be on social media.
Since becoming an agent, I’ve requested manuscripts from SO MANY authors via social media, and signed quite a few as a result of events like #PitMad. I’ve offered to rep authors I’ve found on there, only to find numerous agents clamoring for that particular manuscript, which always fills my heart with joy.
There are also excellent resources like #MSWL, or Manuscript Wishlist, which allows you to read through book ideas agents and editors are excited about potentially finding. It’s an absolutely incredible resource, and it all pools into this great website.
Laurel Amberdine’s manuscript was one of the very first queries to appear in my inbox when I started working as an agent last year. A beautiful, thrilling fantasy novel, I couldn’t put it down. A lush world, a fascinating premise, and two protagonists that were easy to love and cheer for.
Those of you in the SF/F world, chances are you’ve seen Laurel around the ol’ bookish Internet, working with Locus and Lightspeed Magazine. She’s a rockstar, and I’m just so honored to get to work with her.
Curious about the story? In Luminator, readers witness epic fantasy battles that are a bit different. Instead of swords and battle axes, wars are fought with mirrors, prisms, and lenses, as soldiers fight to control the island of Luminous, a magical piece of land where light is harvested as energy… and used as a deadly weapon.
It’s an endless war for resources, that two teens find themselves thrust into. One, a powerful young Luminator, a boy with the ability to manipulate light and shift the tides of war. The other, a brave, bold girl, born of rebels. And together, they’ll have to try and save their realm, while wrestling with their feelings for one another.
I gushed about this book to many of my fantasy-loving friends (looking at you, Fran and Chris), the prose reading like a mashup of Rae Carson’s Girl of Fire and Thorns, Veronica Rossi’s Under the Never Sky, and Sabaa Tahir’s An Ember in the Ashes. It’s not just about epic light battles and magical worlds. It’s a novel that takes a close look at the reasons for war, the need for peace, and the far-reaching power of love.
And I can’t wait for you all to read it, when it hits shelves.
Be sure to follow Laurel and REUTS on Twitter, and wish them all the congrats.
Recently, I had my friend Katherine Locke touch up some manuscripts by authors I’ve signed. She offers editorial services when she has the time, and I really wanted her thoughts on these particular books. I won’t say much about those books, but she was the perfect person to have working on them, rockstar that she is.
But wait. Why have someone else looking over the manuscripts by the authors I’ve been signing?
Well, here’s the thing, writerly types. I can still miss things that need work. Generally when I’m picking up an author, I’ll have read through their manuscript pretty quickly (if I’m in love with a manuscript, I read it like I read any book… by devouring it), and when it comes time for edits, I’ll read it again, slowly, making notes. Then usually another time. And then again.
By the time we’re ready for sub, I’ve likely read the book four, maybe five times. At that point, I’m probably missing stuff. If I didn’t catch it by the fourth or fifth read through, I’m not going to. This is when another set of eyes is SO key. This goes for my work process as an agent and as a writer, as well as any author working on a query letter or a rough manuscript. They’ll catch things you might have missed, and pick up on issues that are closer to them.
TL; DR: More eyes, means a better letter or a better book.
After getting such fantastic results from Katherine, I thought it might be a good idea to roundup other authors and editors that offer up freelance editorial work. Because who better to help you work on that query / manuscript, then someone who has been there before? Authors and editors know what solid queries and manuscripts should look like, having read and written so many.
So… here we go!
Last Updated: March 19th, 2016
Katherine Locke (@Bibliogato): As I mentioned above, Katherine Locke is the author of the District Ballet Company series, a digital exclusive New Adult series with Carina / Harlequin. She knows her genre well, and works on Young Adult, Romance, and middle grade books. She offers up help on query letters, full reads, and line edits of manuscripts. [Website]
Laura Lee Anderson (@LLAWrites): Laura, like me, is an author with Bloomsbury’s digital imprint Bloomsbury Spark. Her novel, Song of Summer… well, you’re going to have a lot of feelings after reading it. Have tissues ready. She looks at query letters and full manuscripts. [Website]
Cait Spivey (@CaitSpivey): Cait’s also an editor, working with Reuts Publications, and specializes in YA and New Adult. Here’s a bit about her interests from her site. “I specialize in YA and NA speculative fiction (sci-fi, fantasy, magical realism, paranormal, etc.). I LOVE projects with strong women, diverse characters (including LGBTQ, race, ethnicity, disability, etc), and surprising plots.” [Website]
Nicole Tone (@nicoleatone): An author / editor who works at Panda Moon Press and has a novel coming out with REUTS at the end of 2016, Nicole’s available for freelance editing. Contact her for more information regarding her services. [Website]
Kisa Whipkey (@KisaWhipkey): Kisa’s author editor over at REUTS available for freelance editorial work. She likes working on fantasy, sci-fi, contemporary, mystery, some horror, and short stories / novellas. [Website]
Amanda Foody (@AmandaFoody): A YA author repped by Folio Literary, Amanda does query critiques, for free! She specializes in YA and MG queries, so only send her those. Details on her blog. [Website]
Meredith Rich (@MeredithJHRich): Meredith is the superstar editor over at Bloomsbury Spark, and acquired my YA novel! If she made that readable, you better believe she can work on your book. She’s available occasionally, particularly for query edits and genres outside what she acquires. Contact her for availability. [Website]
Liz Furl (@LizLazzara): With words on The Huffington Post, Good Men Project, Bustle, and more, Liz has an impressive publication history. And she runs a lit journal! Contact her regarding availability for edits. [Website]
Jon McGoran (@jonmcgoran): An author with Tor, Jon’s DRIFT series is a favorite of mine. Drift, Dead Out… all killer thrillers, that you should be reading. He’s taught a number of writing courses and novel editing classes, and is available for select projects. Drop him a line, especially if you’re working on thrillers or mysteries. [Website]
Hanna M. Fogel (@hannamfogel): Fun Fact, Hanna used to be my intern back when I was at Quirk Books. She was a superstar, and has since taken the leap into the publishing world. She’s looking to freelance edit books in fantasy for any age, as well as MG and YA titles. You can check out her rates on her blog. [Website]
Caitlin R. O’Connell (@Caitlin_Renata): A freelance editor, Cait works on query letters and full manuscripts, and she’s got some super reasonable rates! Check out her site for more details. [Website]
Kat Howard (@KatWithSword): Kat’s an author with Saga and a published short story writer with over 30 shorts out there in the world. And she has a Ph.D in literature, you guys. Check her site out for more info regarding what she edits and her rates. [Website]
J.A. Weber (@jawlitagent): Julia’s not just an editor, but a rockstar literary agent. Who better to scope out your manuscript and give you notes? She does everything from full manuscript edits to working on query letters. Details on her site. [Website]
Anna Banks (@byannabanks): So Anna is one of my favorite YA authors. I adored her Of Poseidon trilogy, and her standalone, Joyride, is… well, a joy. She’s offering up critiques, from manuscripts to query letters. Check out her rates on her site. [Website]
Ilana Masad (@ilanaslightly): Ilana’s one of my authors! I represent her and her amazing stories, and guess what? She critiques and edits. She’s won scores of awards for her short stories, and you definitely want to work with her. Drop her a line regarding her rates via her website. [Website]
Lara Willard (@larathelark): Working on comics? Graphic novels? Picture books? Lara’s the gal for you, specializing in work with a visual angle, though she does other stuff too. You can learn more about her via her site. [Website]
Have someone you’d like to add to the list? Are YOU that someone? Email me! ericsmithrocks at gmail dot com!