Have you given any thought to the digital footprint you leave? If you hope to be—or already are—a published author, you should. I follow several agents on Twitter. Most of them are quite candid there, and some regularly share tips for aspiring authors. Several times, I’ve seen the admonishment to be careful what you write online because agents, editors, and publishers all know how to Google your name or username. Have you tried that? You might be surprised to find how much of what you’ve written in posts, comments, and tweets is available to anyone who considers doing business with you. And never forget that publishing is a business.
Assume an agent has received interesting query letters from each of the following writer types. Their sample pages show them to be equally good writers, so the agent does some background research to see how these three present themselves online (blogs, websites, Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
- Writer A: openly admits they work only when the mood/muse strikes them; believes they know it all; thinks the rules don’t apply to them; criticizes other writers, agents, editors, publishers, and reviewers
- Writer B: displays no faith in their work; complains constantly about the stress of writing; declares they would never be able to handle promoting their work to the public
- Writer C: reveals they work on their craft as often as possible; is willing to learn; has a pleasant demeanor; appears supportive and respectful of others in the business
Which of those writers will the agent likely offer to represent? How would that agent categorize you after an internet search? Yes, we’ve all probably made some of Writer A’s and Writer B’s mistakes at one time or another, but how do you consistently present yourself online?
Another group to consider is your readers, present or potential, who just might search for more information about you. I suppose it depends on what you write, but do you really want your readers to know about the time you got wasted and danced naked in the street? And if you accompanied said revelation with photos or a video, you might want to consider writing under a pseudonym.
Don’t forget: the internet is infinite and eternal.