Friday, September 28, 2012

Question from an author

I've heard lots of advice about having a web presence prior to submitting. But maybe presenting oneself as a blank slate is not such a bad idea after all? To an agent's perspective, is a blank slate too much work or a potential benefit (if the writer is malleable enough)?

This is a great question.

I am personally an individual that believes you don't need to have a web presence prior to submitting. In my humble opinion, that web presence is there to sell a product to your readers. Obviously, if you don't have a product, what are you going to sell. Now, with that said, I also know there are some agents who like to see what authors have out there. Where they find the time to do this, I simply don't know, but they do look. Not having something does not mean you will not sell though.

I think the biggest issue to deal with her is, IF you have a web presence, what is the image you are giving to the potential editors and agents. In other words, if I go to your website and I find a big piece of garbage, what does that tell me about you as a professional? If I find a blog that isn't updated on a regular basis, does this tell me you might not have the dedication to truly devote time daily to your writing? What about if this is a website or blog post that does nothing but complain about everything in the industry? Is this someone I would want to work with?

In the end, I would just recommend for authors to be prepared to get that web presence up and running as soon as possible. If you sign with an agent before selling to a publisher, you can certainly have more time to develop the site. If you sign directly with an editor, you will probably have to move much faster since you are closer to that "release date".

As far as a blank slate being too much work, I don't think that is too much of an issue, at least for the agent. The work may come from the increase work load for the author as they try to keep up with writing deadlines AND ALSO getting the website going, but that would be about it.

Hope that helps!

Have a great weekend.



  1. Yay! That's just the answer I was hoping to hear. :D

    My only remaining question is how much political stuff would you advise a debut writer to discuss in public if said debut writer is a hopeless political junkie...wait, let's see if my 'magic 8 ball' can save Scott the trouble...

    "Would disclosure of conservative roots be a complete turnoff to the literary powers that be?"

    *shake shake*

    Hmmm..."You may rely on it."


    1. @Miss Sharp: I suppose it would depend on a) what type of work you write, and b) what you want your professional image to be.

      If you write something that reflects political leanings (especially non-fiction), then it makes sense to disclose that information, feature it on your blog/social media, etc.

      If you write fiction that doesn't necessarily reflect a political viewpoint, then it's all about your author image. There are many authors who are vocal about their beliefs and opinions even when they have little to do with their work. Just bear in mind that it may alienate some readers. It's your risk to take, but I know plenty of people who won't read Orson Scott Card, Anne Rice, etc. because of the issues they're vocal about.

      If you're worried you won't be published simply because you're conservative (and presumably the PTB aren't), I don't think you have to worry too much. Individual publishers or editors might not take you on, but the publishing industry as a whole generally want things that sell, so they sell content for both ends of the political spectrum.

  2. I've always agreed with the "what are you going to sell if you don't have a product yet?" mentality. Still, there are other good reasons to have some sort of presence: it shows engagement in learning about the publishing process, it allows you to form connections with other writers and publishing people that may come into play later, and so on. I just think that pre-publication, most of your effort should be directed toward coming up with a product rather than worrying about how to sell it.