If you’re an un-agented writer, you might be thinking—do I even NEED a blog? What content should it contain? How often should I post? What SHOULDN’T I blog about?
Well, relax. Deep, cleansing breaths. I asked a few agents what they thought of writerly blogs. Their responses may surprise you.
Erin Murphy, Erin Murphy Literary Agency:
“I don’t have any strict rules or do’s and don’ts. I find blogs are perhaps less useful than they used to be, with the exception of those with large followings. Mostly I go to them, when considering signing someone new, to get a sense of their personality and how they present themselves (whether to fellow kidlit folks, gatekeepers or kids).”
Ammi-Joan Paquette, Erin Murphy Literary Agency:
“A writer’s blog wouldn’t be a deal-breaker for me unless it was wildly unprofessional. First and foremost, when I’m looking at a potential client, it’s all about the writing. But beyond that, a blog or website gives a sense of who that person is, how our tastes and interests might mesh, etc. So make sure your web presence reflects who you are, and that it looks clean and tight and polished. I don’t think they’re essential, but it is nice to put a face and background to the voice I’m reading on the screen.”
Jennifer Laughran, Andrea Brown Literary Agency:
“I don’t care if an author has a blog or not. But if they DO have a blog, I hope it is lively, interesting, informative, fun to read, and gives a sense of their “voice” and a glimpse into their lives.
Turnoffs: Lots of word-count posts. Constant self-promotion. Complaining about blogging, complaining about the publishing industry, complaining about specific people (your agent or editor, for example)—or “Humblebragging.” Overly political or “sexy” posts (unless you are a political or sexy writer).
If an author HATES blogging and is struggling to find the time or energy…if it is taking away from their work or making them miserable…then they should absolutely not do it. An unused blog, or a blog that is just complaints or self-PR, is so much worse than no blog at all.”
Teresa Kietlinski, Prospect Agency:
“Blogs are absolutely important in my decision making. When submissions come in, I tend to visit blogs first because they give me a taste of the writer’s (and illustrator’s) personality, voice and interests. It also lets me see how dedicated they are to the craft of writing or illustrating. Do they post frequently? Do they talk about topics of interest in the children’s book world? Are they honing his/her skills? What books is he/she reading? Would I like to join him/her for lunch or tea? (the last question for me is the most important). If I do not instantly connect with a blog, chances are I will not connect with the blog’s writer.
My goal as an agent is to work with clients who I like working with. Clients who are funny, interesting, and interpret the mundane stuff in a surprising way. Blogs can give me insight on these qualities. And while websites are important, especially for seasoned authors, they are not always personal.
I would suggest not limiting your blog to “kids stuff only.” Talk about what interests you—but keep it professional in tone. Readers are looking to connect with your personality. Who are you?
Do remember that anyone can read your posts so keep them professional in tone. Do update your blog regularly.”
So it’s clear: if an agent is interested in your work, they WILL Google you. So avoid posting:
- Samples of works in progress (they might be considered “published”)
- A tally of submissions/rejections
- Complaints about rejections, the industry or specific professionals
- Long, rambling posts
- Overly political, religious or controversial topics (unless that is the focus of your professional writing)
Before you start a blog, realize there’s millions of them out there already. What are you bringing to the table? Do you have a unique perspective? Just like thinking of the hook before you write the book, you might want to think of the hook for your blog before you launch into it. (Relatively-newish blogs with compelling hooks: Literary Friendships by Audrey Vernick and Design of the Picture Book by Carter Higgins.)
Or, you can just go for it and post whatever you like. After a few dozen posts, you might discover your niche. Check your blog stats and determine which posts bring in the most visitors. Work in that direction.
And remember, the story’s the thing. No blog will snag you a book deal if your submission is sub-par. So get the manuscript right first, then worry about blogging later…
Or, maybe, not at all.