It’s All Give and Take

SCBWI Notes I:

Michael Bourrett presented an entertaining, information session on social networking—how much, how often, and how can you personalize and customize your approach. Michael is a literary agent with the New York agency Dystal & Goderich and is currently working out of  Los Angeles. While scrolling his lecture notes on his spanking new iPad, he asked his first question: With Facebook, MySpace, blogs, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and more out there begging us to participate, why wouldn’t you? It’s free isn’t it?

Answer: No, it isn’t free. Social networking takes time. Sometimes lots of time. Time that you might otherwise use to write. So first guideline: realize you don’t have to do it all. If it works for you, and you;re comfortable with the technology, do it. If not, drop it. Be selective. Ask yourself how these individual tools are helping you build your career, connect to others as a writer, and sell your books. If you hate Facebook and love to blog, go for it. If Twitter helps you connect with the movers and shakers that you wouldn’t otherwise ordinarily have access to, enjoy yourself. If you’re in doubt, lurk for a while and see how it might work for you.

His baseline minimum for any emerging (or even established) writer: a professional website. It doesn’t need a lot of bells and whistles, but it needs to look professional, offer real content (first ask: who is your audience?) and be updated regularly. Anything over and above a website is icing on the cake. Rest assured, he told us, no one will not publish you because you’re not on Twitter.

Some of Michael’s Do’s and Don’ts:

  • DO post or update your site regularly, at least once a week
  • DO Participate. Social; networking is all above give and take
  • DO link, link, link
  • DO participate in publishing discussions online
  • DON’T get into petty fights with authors, reviewers, agents, or editors
  • DON’T post your news all at once or make your posts too long
  • DON’T come across as crazed or mean
  • DON’T gossip, snipe, or complain…it will come back to haunt you!
  • DON’T post inappropriate information: agent notes, personal, irrelevant information
  • DO have fun! Otherwise you won’t continue to social network at all.
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