When I finished my "first" book (meaning the first one I thought was saleable) in 2006, there weren't a whole lot of writing blogs out there. Or if there were, I certainly couldn't find them. Maybe it's just me but blogs by writers at every stage of the writing/publishing continuum seemed to have proliferated in the last five years. I think this is awesome. I have had so many questions over the years about everything from the writing craft to the publication process and now pretty much any question I have can be answered by perusing the blogs and websites of various writers and agents. Within this online community of writers--aspiring or published--I can find both inspiration and commiseration. I can learn all kinds of new things. I can find new and exciting books to read. I can make friends and score some awesome critique partners.
In fact, one year ago today I met Nancy Thompson on Nathan Bransford's forums. I was looking for critique partners and she approached me. Thus began a kick-ass critique partnership and an intense friendship that I will treasure for the rest of my life. Nancy and I have only "known" each other for a year but I cannot live without her! She is warm, brilliant, talented, intelligent and kind. She is like a missing puzzle piece to me. Also she is a fabulous writer and I love her book.
Back in 2006 pretty much the only blog that I visited was Nathan Bransford's because it was the most informative of the agent blogs I had seen at the time and also because he was and is extremely accessible. With the emergence of Facebook and Twitter there were ongoing discussions about writers using social media to build platforms including having their own websites--even if they were unagented and unpublished. I resisted creating my own website for a long time only because it seemed silly since I had neither an agent nor many publishing credits. But the idea was that if you were querying agents and they liked your query letter and wanted to know more about you, your website would be a great way to showcase yourself and any other relevant points you might want a prospective agent to know. So I broke down in 2009 and created my own website. You can visit it here. It has a little bit more than you would find on this blog.
The longer I had it, the more I liked the idea of having a site dedicated just to my writing life where a prospective agent or editor could go and get a sense of who I was, what I was about and what I was offering. I came over to blogger earlier this year, at Nancy's suggestion and have been publishing blog posts simultaneously on blogger and my website ever since. I get a lot more traffic here and get to interact with a lot more wonderful people on blogger than on my website. For me, whenever I check out a new blogger, the first thing I do is try to find out what kind of writer they are (i.e. do they write YA? Mysteries? Fantasy?) and then I look for information on their work. This can be anything from an icon indicating how far along they are in their WIP to a blurb about what they're working on to an excerpt or a pitch for what they've completed. Everyone is at a different stage. Some people are working on a first draft. Some people are polishing up a 3rd or 4th draft. Some people are working on their 2nd or their 7th book. Some people are just starting their first novel. Some people are just in the brainstorming or outlining stage. Some people write primarily short stories or poetry. Some people are gearing up to query. Some people are actively seeking representation. Some are on subs. Some are self-pubbing. Some are agented. Some are legacy published. In my experience, everyone of these writers has something to offer and I love learning about their work and hearing about where they are in their process.
Since I am a writer trying to connect with other writers, I want to know first and foremost who they are as a writer and what they are about. Most bloggers have this information nicely encapsulated in their About Me section. Some, like Nancy Thompson, have their pitch as well as their work or query posted. I think this is a great idea and here's a little personal story about how this helped me:
October 6, 2010 - I was watching the Phillies' Roy Halladay pitch a no-hitter in his first-ever post-season appearance. Three weeks prior to that, I had begun a new querying frenzy. I had just finished a brand spanking new draft of Finding Claire Fletcher and this time I felt it was finally agent-worthy. I was right. In those 3 weeks I had received 8 requests for fulls/partials from agents. After four and a half years I sensed I was finally close to landing an agent. I had been checking my email obsessively for those 3 weeks--about every 2 minutes. Literally. I had just figured out how to check my email from my phone which really sent my obsession over the edge. Seriously, I think family members were ready to throw my phone directly into the toilet. And my laptop. And maybe me too.
And then . . . That night, watching Halladay's no-hitter, I actually did NOT check my email for four hours straight. I was completely captivated and enthralled. My finding-an-agent obsession receded into the background. God that was an incredible game. Ah, the sweet relief of distraction!
Well what do you know . . .
When the game was over and I had had my fill of post-game commentary and highlights, I pulled out my laptop and checked my email and there was an email from Jeanie Pantelakis. Sensing another "your book is good but I'm going to pass" rejection, I didn't even get excited. I had to read that email about ten times to figure out that it was not a joke, that she was actually offering me a contract. I had already researched Jeanie and knew that if she offered me representation, I wanted to go with her so I wrote her back and asked her to send me the contract.
A few days later it was signed, scanned and emailed to her. Then I got an email from her which said, simply: "Send me Aberration too."
Aberration is my second novel. A novel I had never mentioned to Jeanie. I figured if things went well with Finding Claire Fletcher, I might bring it up to her later but I didn't have to do that. How did Jeanie know I had written another novel and that it was called Aberration? My website.
After some revisions, Jeanie offered me a contract for Aberration as well. I never even had to pitch it. It was there on my website. She went there, read the pitch and asked for it.
The lesson here--for me--is that if you're looking for representation it can really help to have a blog or a website that clearly showcases who you are and what you're about. Now that I'm on subs, I have a Work In Progress page. My hope is that if an editor reads one of my books and likes it, he or she can visit my website and see that I am actively working on something new. I would hope that shows that I'm productive. Regardless, the point is that a prospective agent, editor or reader should not have to work really hard to find this information whether they are visiting your blog or your website (or both.)
So in the interest of this platform-building campaign: who are you and what are you about? What do you write? What have you written? Where are you in the writing and/or publishing process?