Tuesday, June 8, 2010

"Shark" Factor at the Conference: Agent Janet Reid

Janet Reid's hour long presentation on using social networking for promoting your work was one of the most fun, fast moving and informative sessions at the May Pennwriters Conference. This post contains only a small portion of the loads of information she shared with us. She calls herself a shark but she's actually seems a big-hearted lady who loves books.

Most writers have at one time or another heard of the ‘query shark.’ Agent Janet Reid is the query shark and she takes on queries with the dangerous tenacity of that monster of the deep. On her blog she posts real queries and then analyzes their strengths and weaknesses. Then people can leave comments though she’s diligent on not allowing inane comments like, ‘this sucks.’ Sometimes she even requests the author brave enough to send their query to her to send her a submission.

If you’ve ever visited Query Shark you know what a terrific session Janet treated us with at the Pennwriters Conference. Even without all the information she shared with us, Janet is witty, interesting and entirely amusing. The hour with her passed much too quickly. Her topic was use of the social media in promotion. I took more notes on this workshop than any other.

One of the terms Janet used was the ‘noise level.” According to her, Twitter is nearly 100% noise which means most of what is on there is not helpful or a good use of your time. When using Facebook or Twitter, remember ‘it’s not about you or your book.’ Start a conversation and show interest in other people and they will become interested in you. Eighty percent of your social interaction should be about other people. Talk about other people’s books, events, industry news and follow clients of the agents or editors you hope will take you on.

Visit your social networks everyday or a few times a day for shorter periods of time. Get to know people and they will come to trust and like you. Don’t vent on social networks. Never tweet when you’re angry. Remember everything you say online is there forever. She suggests you don’t cross post on Facebook/Twitter. And don’t only re-Tweet.

Some etiquette advice was included in her topics. Don’t harvest email addresses and pitching to an agent or editor in Facebook, Twitter or a blog shows you’re an amateur. There is no harm in asking an agent or editor a ‘panel-like’ question that isn’t specific to your work alone.

Another use of Twitter and Facebook is to crowd source. For instance, if you don’t know what parts of the country eat shoo-fly pie, you could pose the question on one of their social giants and likely get a pretty good answer to your question. Some parts of the country probably never heard of shoo-fly.

Janet’s blog is so well-known and successful, she’s an excellent advisor on how to use your blog to get you name out there. She suggests you blog at least weekly if not more often. Use links to interesting things. Blog tours are every effective for reaching new readers but don’t ask the owner of popular blog to host your tour if you don’t really know them. And like other medias, don’t dash out a post when you’re upset or angry.

For both blogging and the other social media, Janet cautions you about the crazies you’ll run into now and then. Some obscene and some clearly disturbed.

Another piece of her wisdom directs authors to become known on Goodreads and Shelfari where you can connect to readers.

A blog she loves purely for pleasure is Montana For Real where you can read about genuine ranch life. I also learned a new acronym, TSTL.

To Stupid to Live as in the heroine who hears a bump in the night and goes into the dark basement with a faltering flashlight in her skimpy nightwear in a house where there have been historic killings.

Have you read a book with a TSTL character? Have you tried a blog tour and found it successful? How much time do you spend on social networking? How often do you blog?


Cate Masters said...

I'm in the middle of a blog tour, so results are pending. :) Spend way too much time social networking, though I need to figure out Goodreads.
Great post Susan!

Jon Sprunk said...

I spend some time each day on facebook and twitter. I belong to Goodreads, but check that less often. I blog about 2-3 times per month.

Jon Sprunk said...

Also, Janet is awesome. She's quite the character.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Janet is a very entertaining speaker. She enjoys herself. Good luck on Wednesday, Jon.