I keep seeing articles on blogs and websites, hearing writers who’ve attended writing courses and workshops, say how important it is for an aspiring author to build their own brand. The world is money shy and publishers don’t want to take risks on those who don’t have a name or a band of followers. I’ve heard it touted that being an outgoing and flamboyant personality online is a necessary step on the road to publication and that it all reflects the promotion you’d have to do if your manuscript does get picked up.
As I see it, one problem with all of these ideas is that unless an agent or publisher notices your activity they probably won’t know you exist. If you read any of their websites they all say how busy they are and that’s why it takes them a while to get back to you about your submission. They have existing clients, who are earning them money, to look after. So, I’m guessing they don’t have a lot of free time searching twitter, or any other online source, in the hope of finding a new client.
You could of course mention some of your attempts at own branding in a submission letter but, if you’re including chapters with it, I’m sure most writers would be happier to think it’s their writing that grabs the agent/publisher, not how many followers they have on twitter.
The other issue is, these activities take time and when you start with them you can get sucked in and distracted. Time that could have been spent writing, editing and submitting.
After reading this you might think I’m anti-online but I belong to a few online writing communities, I tweet and use Facebook, I have this blog and I still manage to find time to write. These activities do have advantages. You can chat to others interested in writing any time of the day or night, you can learn more about the craft of writing, find out what some agents like and dislike, do some research on them prior to submission. I’ve found the writing communities a way to get reviews on manuscripts to help me identify what’s working and what’s not.
So, as if I wasn’t online enough already, I’ve joined another one. Wattpad now has a chick-lit section and I’ve added the opening chapters for The Glass House and Finding Us to it.
Whether you are self-publishing or hoping to go down the traditional route to publication, what are your feelings on the need to be seen online and what methods do you use to try and build a name for yourself?