The most important element that will determine whether or not you’ll get a literary agent interested in your book is the strength of your story. But no manuscript is an island; there are many factors that inform a literary agent’s decision about your submission. We here at Web Design Relief know that by building a strong author platform before you begin querying, you could make it easier for a literary agent to say Yes! to your book.
The Five Elements Literary Agents Look For In An Author Platform
A professional author website. Your website is a central hub where agents, editors, and fans can go to learn more about you and your writing. In one way or another, all professional writers should have websites. By creating your author website even before your book is published, you make it easy and fun for agents to learn more about you. And you demonstrate a willingness to “put yourself out there” in the way successful authors must do.
A healthy presence on social networks. At Web Design Relief, we emphasize the importance of social media for authors who hope to build an audience. But if you’re not a Facebook genius or Twitter virtuoso, don’t worry! Simply by maintaining a presence on at least one social network, you can demonstrate to a literary agent that you have the basic building blocks to create a thriving following online.
A number of publications in magazines or literary journals. While some authors are able to land great book deals without having a single publishing credit, the majority of authors often have some publications listed in their author bio before they start querying. If you don’t have any publications, don’t worry. Just read this: How To Build Up Your Writing Bio Super Fast.
Some experience as a public speaker. While it’s not a requirement that you have excellent public speaking skills, it certainly does not hurt if you do. Writers are often asked to speak in public. If your potential agent knows that you are a talented speaker, he or she can use that to your advantage.
An interesting personality. These days, publishing houses are relying more and more on the power of social networking to build a writer’s fan base. Readers want to like their favorite writer—not just their favorite writer’s books. If you have a big personality, feel free to show it! But if not, don’t worry: There are plenty of quiet, introverted authors who do quite well for themselves.
How Many Fans Is Enough Before Querying A Literary Agent?
Literary agents prefer to see “quality” over “quantity” when it comes to fans on social networks. In other words, having real fans who care about your writing and interact with you is preferable to having fans who Like your Facebook page just because they wanted to get something for free.
If you are writing a novel or a memoir, you don’t need to worry too much about building a vast preexisting fan base. While having a presence online is important, having a huge following even before you get out of the gate is not strictly necessary for success.
However, if you are writing prescriptive nonfiction (like how-to or self-help), then you will need to focus on developing a larger fan base. Nonfiction books sell best when their authors are considered experts in their field. If you are writing nonfiction, it is important to show that there is already a lot of interest in your ideas and a clamoring throng of fans who are just waiting to snap up your book.
QUESTION: Which element of building an author platform do you find most challenging?