Lately, I’ve been hearing the same thing from a lot of writers seeking publication. “I have to get my website up,” they’ll say, or, “I have to start a blog. I’ll never attract an agent or editor without one.” And, indeed, in writing circles these days, it seems like a lot of emphasis is placed on the oh-so-important “web presence.”
But I sometimes wonder if the significance of web presence is overestimated by those seeking to be published. Granted, if you’re writing non-fiction, where having a platform (a way to reach readers and sell your book to your target market) is considered crucial by many agents and editors, a web presence is probably pretty important. But if you’re a novelist, is it really all that critical to getting your foot in the door?
Don’t get me wrong—a web presence certainly doesn’t hurt your chances of getting an agent or editor. And if you enjoy blogging and designing websites and have plenty of time to do so, then why not? But if you’re not blessed with copious amounts of free time or a burning desire to launch yourself into the blogosphere, should you force yourself to do such things in the name of getting published? I worry there are writers out there pouring time and energy into endeavors that are perhaps not especially necessary, taking away from their time to write, polish their manuscripts, or nail that killer query letter. And many I’ve talked to recently seem convinced that publication will never happen unless they do. Some are even putting off sending out query letters, as they feel they can’t even approach an agent or editor without first being established online.
When I signed with my agent, I had nothing in the way of a web presence—and I do mean nothing. Zip, zero, zilch, nada. No website, no blog, no Facebook account, no Twitter account, no MySpace page, nothing. Basically, I had an e-mail address. The same was true when my agent found a publisher for my novel.
Now, in the months leading up to the publication of my book, I did make a point of launching a website—www.IvysEverAfter.com, if you’d like to check it out (shameless plug)—and I did join Facebook. Both have been great ways to get word of my book out there, and it’s been fun and rewarding to meet some really wonderful people who love children’s books as wholeheartedly as I do. Obviously, I’m also blogging here on Project Mayhem, and what a great experience that has been! So I’m not knocking the web thing. But I do wonder if the importance of having a web presence before being published is sometimes overemphasized.
Having a strong book is obviously the most important thing. Personally, I think if an agent or editor loves your manuscript, it’s unlikely they’re going to turn you down because you don’t have a blog.
But I’d love to hear other opinions on this. Anyone out there who has had their web presence play a major role in being published? Please, share your thoughts and experiences.