Do publishers really give a [Tweet] about a writer’s social media presence?

image By Ned Hickson

Welcome to this week’s writing tip, which is advice 50 Shades author E.L. James has called “My literary yardstick, which I’d like to break over someone’s…”

But enough accolades!

This week’s writing topic was actually suggested by talented writer, mom and blogger Michelle at MamaMickTerry, who asked:

Dear Mr. Hickson: Does having a blog help or hinder getting published?

She followed this up a short time later, after what I’m guessing was a glass or two of wine, with a more specific question:

Listen here, Neddy-O: Do you think publishers really give a [TWEET] about a writer’s social media presence? DO you? And hey, is it just me or does Thor’s hair need some de-tangler?

The short answer to Michelle’s question is that, while there are certainly arguments for and against the merits of the exposure one gets from traveling between worlds, most women wouldn’t care if Thor was bald. Ok, no woman really cares.

The long answer, as you might’ve guessed, is a little more complicated and actually has nothing to do with Thor’s choice of hair products. Though I realize that most women have stopped reading this post to Google Chris Hemsworth — Fine, all women — I still plan to answer Michelle’s question regarding the value of social media in the eyes of publishers who, coincidentally, almost never look like Thor.

On the surface, the advantages of establishing a blog and linking it to social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter, Tumbler, MySpace and others seems pretty obvious. The bigger your presence in the cyberworld and the larger your following, the more likely your book will catch on and be embraced in the world that truly counts: The buying world.

For those who thought I was going to say the world of “Asgard,” I really need you to close that Chris Hemsworth window on your monitor.

Keep in mind that, particularly for a writer without a previous track record, a large online readership can get a publisher or agent to at least raise an eyebrow after reading a well-written query letter or email about your book. For this reason, it’s always a good idea to include direct links to your blog and other active social media sites at the end of your query, as well as a link to a sample chapter online. Unless specifically requested, don’t ever include an attachment with your emailed query; emails with attachments that actually make it past SPAM filters are routinely deleted. Even if you know the recipient is a female and you type “Thor” in the subject line.

While having a large online presence certainly doesn’t hurt, publishers also know that pushing the “like” or “follow” button is fast becoming a conditioned response which, more often than not, happens without a visitor even thinking about it. This obviously doesn’t includes anyone who visits THIS site, but you get the idea: Having 5,000 followers does not translate into 5,000 book sales.

However, there is another “plus” to building an online presence that tends to get overlooked but can be especially encouraging to an agent. Sure, having a large readership may or may not be a true reflection of the number of actual devoted readers you have, but the quality of your writing and regularity in which you post will speak for themselves. Notice I didn’t say “frequency” in which you post. An agent or publisher isn’t as interested in how often you publish as they are about your adherence to posting quality work on a regular basis.

My blog is an obvious exception to this rule.

I’d like to thank Michelle at MamaMickTerry for suggesting this week’s topic. I’d also like to thank Chris Hemsworth for giving me yet another reason to keep my gym membership.

imageNed Hickson is a syndicated columnist with News Media Corporation. His first book, Humor at the Speed of Life, is available from Port Hole Publications, or Barnes & Noble.)

14 thoughts on “Do publishers really give a [Tweet] about a writer’s social media presence?

  1. Good points 🙂
    I know that one of the things on my “to-do-before-querying” list is to do some good editing of my blog, tidying up some of my regular problem-spots. But I’ve been trying to be really good (at least, since I actually started paying attention to the blog in the past 6 months, rather than the 2.5 years previous when it was a “I’ll put time into this at some point” kind of thing) about keeping to my posting scheduled (at minimum). Quality over quantity is the phrase that keeps coming to my mind in this…


  2. Okay, Young Ned! I detect some Serious Snark here! I detected no less than SIX…count ’em…SIX…mentions of either Thor or Chris Hemsworth in this post. (And when you get right down to it, to drool over one is to drool over the other). If one didn’t know better, one would think that you were making fun of…one. Okay, me. Yeah, I know if it has Thor on it, in it, next to it, or underneath it, I’m likely to buy it, use it, wear it, or at least ogle it. But hey. Even I…Thor’s greatest admirer…have never, ever questioned his use of hair products! *grumble, mumble*

    Moving on, though I’d rather keep thinking about Thor/Chris, I enjoyed your thoughts on this subject, Ned. I haven’t even begun to think in terms of query letters, agents, publishers, and the like, but who knows. Someday, I might, and I’d like to think that my blogs won’t make a bad impression on anyone I may want to approach. I’d love to hear more from others who might have tidbits to share on this topic.

    I do have to say that I love blogging, so it’s not as much of a chore for me as for some. However, I hate, loathe, and detest Facebook, and am burning out on Twitter, though I know I need to keep a presence active on both. I’m actually considering a Virtual Assistant to handle the routine marketing style posts, freeing me up to do what I really want to do, which is tell my stories. Have you ever given any thought that approach? (Anyone?)

    Thanks again for a funny, but timely and informative post. Now may I please go back to thinking about Thor?

    Liked by 1 person

      • Okay, now my morning has gone clean off course. I’m supposed to be taking my grandson to the zoo, and instead, I’m thinking about…well…you know who I’m thinking about. And even though he’s YOUNGER than my own children, I’m NOT thinking grandmotherly thoughts! Tsk. It’s shameful!!

        *admonishes self to stop thinking about the many possibilities of having Thor taking my dictation*

        Now…on a serious note. Virtual assistants. I’m wondering what anyone knows about them, and I’m probably going to do a post about that later. I want one!!

        Liked by 1 person

          • Ha! Now it’s my turn to enlighten you. Virtual assistants are today’s version of an executive secretary or administrative assistant for digital chores. They can do a ton of different things for you…all for a price, of course…ranging from handling all your social media chores/posts/updates that you don’t want to mess with, to handling routine correspondence, and more. I would just love to have someone handle the marketing aspects of posts on Twitter and Facebook for me. I can handle my blogs, but those two have begun to become major time sucks, especially Twitter. I want to spend my days writing, not tweeting. Even using programs such as Hootsuite to upload bulk posts takes up too much time. And I hate the automatic following programs, etc.

            The trick is finding someone whose hourly rates you can afford, and who will let you pick and choose which jobs you want them to take on. I’m really considering doing it as soon as I can. I’d still be able to drop by and tweet fun stuff now and then, or post something interesting on FB, etc, but I could delegate several hours worth of social media tasks a week, and that would make me very happy. If I follow up on this, I’ll be sure to post more about it, and I’d love to know if anyone else is using a virtual assistant.


              • Well, that’s why I want YOU to try it out. If you manage to stay out of jail, and no one takes a hit out on you, then the rest of us are probably good to go. 😀

                From what I understand, though, VA’s (as we in the know call them) are safe. Mostly. Go for it. If the worst happens, I’ll take over your blog while you’re doing 5 to 10 in solitary. 😀 😀

                Liked by 1 person

  3. You touch on an interesting aspect of social media and publishing. While I agree with you on the fact that blogging regularly shows dedication, generosity and creativity since we want to write unique posts, it is also true that our readers aren’t often the buyers we are looking for when we have books for sale through our blogs. No simple anser to this question, otherwise we would all be rich!
    As for editors and agents, I think that dream of someone who has a solid readership and wrote a unique story. But I would think that the unique story comes first. Doesn’t hurt to keep blogging on the side, though. Best to you and everyone stopping by.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I couldn’t agree more, Evelyn. The quality of writing’s got to come first, and the rest — readership, agent, publisher — will hopefully follow. But you can’t hope for much unless you’re getting your writing out there wherever possible.

      Thanks so much for your comments, and best wishes to your writing and all endeavors!

      Liked by 1 person

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