Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Go Team Writemoreplease!

Yesterday, twitter-peep @BriaQuinlan asked the following questions of her followers:
QUESTION: What does it say to you when you see that an agent's clients are tight on twitter (or blogs, etc)??? Anything? ...[if] there's an obvious bond of some sort inside an agency - do you think that means anything about the agent herself? ... Would you feel like you were missing out if you joined an agency where the clients didn't have this "team" feeling?
So you might wonder, hey there Jenn, why should this provoke a response from you? After all, um... she's kinda sorta talking about agents like YOU.

And it is true. I have a group of clients who are very active on Twitter (as, of course, I am myself) - and they have been known to refer to themselves jokingly as the "Literaticult" (ha ha). Lots of my clients share manuscripts with one another, are critique partners, or are just pals, online or off. I try to offer galleys of my clients work to any other client who wants to read and asks me (subject to availability, of course.)

Also, I know some agents who host client retreats and say it is an amazing experience. I can't speak to that, I've never been to one, but I know people love them. The agency DOES host the Big Sur Writer's Conference, which many clients do attend (though it is open to the public, is mostly NON-clients who attend, and client attendance is by no means required or expected.) It is always great fun to be able to hang out with authors and talk books, and writing, in such a beautiful setting.

Anyway. Back on topic. I'm going to tell you a little story.

A certain client (who I LOVE btw, and who is a princess of social media, and I am in no way disparaging her glee or good intentions), when I signed her up, was swept away with enthusiasm."Jennifer!" she exclaimed. "I am going to start a LIST-SERV for your clients! And we'll have a GROUP BLOG! and you can do RETREATS! And we will be RAD and BRAG ABOUT EACH OTHER ON TWITTER and and and it will be soooo awesooome! Woooo!!!!"

Pretty sure that is a direct quote. ;-)

I told her to slow her roll. I think she might have been surprised that I wasn't into this idea.

But the fact is, though all my clients do have websites of some sort, only maybe half of them are active on Twitter or Facebook or have active blogs. Yes. The All-Powerful "Literaticult"... isn't. It only consists of half the people I rep. Less, even, when you consider that many folks have an account that they rarely use.

I don't want my authors who are not all over Twitter to ever feel like they are not one of the "cool kids." I don't want people who can't afford to fly to some far-off location for a retreat to feel like they are missing out on something important. I don't want people who just aren't interested in blogging or socializing with virtual friends or getting tons of newsy list-serv emails from strangers to feel like they are somehow being punished for having different priorities. Or for 'outsiders' to feel jealous, or like I am promoting cliquishness, because I am really really not.

Of course, I think that all my clients are adorable geniuses. I love all their books and think we all have similarly good taste, and so chances are good that they will like one another's books too. And I am glad that so many of them do seem to get along and have organically become friends, because I think they are all genuinely really great and talented people. So of course, I am totally fine with it if my clients meet up and have fun together. If they want to start their OWN retreats amongst themselves. If they want to be cheer one another on, be Twitter Pals or Blog Buddies or Crit Partners or whatever.  I just don't want it to feel like any of this is something that you must do to be "IN."

Fact: If you know who an agent's clients are because of social media, and read their books, it might give you insight into their taste, which might help you target your submission with accuracy. Fact: The "team" feeling definitely makes some authors, particularly newbie authors, feel a part of something, and gives them an automatic group of people who know what they are going through, which is all very nice for somebody starting out in this often-confusing business. Fact: When you are a full-time writer, it can be isolating - social media friends can help enormously, especially if they "get" where you are coming from. Fact: It is good PR for the agent to have high-profile clients talking to one another about their books, and today's newbies coming up together are tomorrow's stars.


It is really easy for people in the blogosphere, or the twitterverse, to assume that everyone important is in the blogosphere or the twitterverse. But they really aren't. Not even close. Most people aren't big on Twitter. That's fine. If this is not your "thing", never fear.

If I had to choose one, I would 100% rather my clients be writing their next book than being goofballs with each other on the internet. The writing always has to come first.

SO... what do YOU think? Does it matter to you if you see these seeming agency "teams" on Twitter and the like? Do you feel that it tells you something about the agent? And if so, what?