Why Agents Should Blog

Some agents have so little information online that I feel like a stalker when I finally come across something. But that's not why agents should blog.

Some agents have so many clients, and are so good at their jobs, that they don't really need to be known. Those agents probably don't have to blog.

Some agents blog about stuff that has nothing to do with submissions, business, or publishing. That's totally cool, but that's not why agents should blog.

Some agents blog about writing and querying and publishing. That's extremely cool (I'm a much better writer for it), but that's not why agents should blog.

I figured it out while deciding which agents would go on my A-list and which on my B-list for querying. After taking everything into account -- genres they represent, deals they've made, stories they like --  I noticed a very strong trend: every agent on my A-list had a blog.

Now, probably, I'm just being a novice about this whole thing. My A-list agents should be ones making the big deals, or those selling stories similar to what I write, right? Then again, for someone who hasn't (and may never) go someplace where writers can meet agents, querying is very scary. And I don't mean the whole oh-my-gosh-I-hope-they-don't-reject-me kind of scary. I'm talking about the fact that I'm basically proposing a long term relationship with someone I've never met, I hardly know, and, let's be honest, whom I've been stalking.

Awkward.

Granted, that's how this business is, and there's nothing anyone can do about that. But when an agent blogs -- even if I only read a few posts before shooting off my query -- I feel like I know them a little better. I feel more comfortable. And in many cases, I feel certain I got their submission guidelines exactly the way they like it.

Blogging is branding (or if we're being technical, brand salience). You know how you'd rather buy Coca-Cola® than Generic-Brand Caramel-Colored Carbonated Sugar Water? It's not because Coke tastes better. Someone who's never had a soft drink in their life will be more likely to buy a Coke than GBCCCSW,* solely because they've heard of it. Because it's familiar.

I'd like to say I'm immune to branding. I'd like to say I choose my dream agents based on purely objective, business-minded decisions. But the truth is it's easier to ask someone out after you get to know them a little bit.

Even if you have to stalk them to do it.

* Also Jell-O instead of powdered bone slime.

10 comments:

Sherri said...

Good points. Let me add one that has to do with after you've signed.

My agent doesn't blog. She doesn't even have a webpage. (And yes, she's a legitimate working agent.) I hate it. Back in the days of telephone it probably would have been okay, but now...I wish I had some way to connect with her on days when the business end gives me no reason to. It would just be nice to read a post that she wrote, and know that she still exists.

An agent being active on the Internet shows they're not afraid of technology (even if the opposite isn't true, you can't be sure) and may be better able to roll with these crazy changes we're seeing. Also implies they're more available.

Downside: they probably get way more queries than non-blogging agents, and therefore your chances of getting an offer may go down.

Sorry this turned out so long. Had more to say than I thought. :)

India Drummond said...

I wish more agents would blog, as well, or at least take online submissions.

What I like to read most, though, is about the insider's view of the publishing industry.

It does feel a bit stalkerish!

Amie McCracken said...

Thank you for the link to the nasty rendition of what Jell-O is. (Even though I already knew.)

And I'd like to see agents blog because shouldn't someone who's representing my writing be capable of writing themselves? I just feel like that's a given. Kind of like if my resume has a typo you won't hire me, if my agent's blog has millions of typos and bad grammar I don't want them to work for me. Because besides the fact that we chase after them...they are working for us.

Myrna Foster said...

I like reading agent blogs. I guess I haven't come across any agent blogs that don't give writers business tips. But I'm more attracted to (going with the stalker theme) agents who represent my favorite authors than blogging agents with lists of books I've never heard of.

BTW - love your Stalkers poster - that's what I thought when I was reading Twilight. Ew. Creepy.

Adam Heine said...

I love these comments!

Sherri: Those are all really good points, esp. about the other side (i.e. having an agent). I totally agree with the "not afraid of technology" bit too (though I know some agents who don't blog but are very much on top of technology).

India: Agreed about online submissions. It's really hard for me to send snail mail (stupid Int'l Reply Coupons), so I'm restricting my agent search to those who accept e-queries. At least for now.

Adam Heine said...

Amie: That's an interesting point. Not all agents are into editing, but I agree that I'd like one who is (and therefore can edit).

Myrna: I've come across a few that aren't focused on talking business. Even one of my A-List agents does that :-)

Natalie said...

Ha, ha! It's funny because it's true. I felt a lot more comfortable querying the blogging agents at first too. It's nice to know something about the person you will work with for years.

But then I realized something. Some of the blogging agents (including some of the BIG blogging agents) aren't the ones who have the big sales (or even decent sales). Also I think you really get to know agents when they call you to offer rep (and you talk back and forth for a week while you are considering other offers).

My agent doesn't blog or tweet or use facebook (though the main agent at the agency does blog), and you know what, I like that she doesn't. I know I can call her anytime and talk. I know if I email, she'll get back to me in hours instead of days. Blogging might not take a ton of time, but it takes some and I'm glad she is able to use the energy she might have used on blogging to take care of clients instead.

Susan Quinn said...

I've had the same "huh?" moment when trying to parse which agents go into which category (I was going for A, B, and C: I was obviously delusional). Blogging does give you some sense of them, but it also shows that they have a sense of branding as important - maybe not for them, but definitely for the author. I guess this doesn't require a blog, but it gives you some indication.

In the end, I guess you have to hope you can figure out if you can work with someone with the barest of "interviews" before signing that contract. Not unlike any other job.

The thing that will win my heart: an agent who adores my story. I figure that's the one for me. :)

Adam Heine said...

Good points, Natalie. I'm totally aware that the big bloggers aren't necessary the big deal-makers. That's where this realization came from, actually.

Susan: I have a C and D list too, but for different reasons :-)

Elana Johnson said...

Amen!! I do have to say though, that my agent doesn't blog. She's hardly anywhere on the Internet, and yes, I stalked her. And she's a great agent. So sometimes the powdered bone slime is just as good as the Jell-O.

Sometimes. :)