Authors, Illustrators, as well as anyone interested in the literary world,
Chasing your dreams can be a confusing event in your life. Even more confusing, is not knowing where to start to chase those dreams. I have found an endless spiral of websites, blogs, and advice columns for new authors/illustrators. Please, take it from me, not all free advice or information will help you. I have found many sites that have only regressed my journey. For example, I stumbled across a site after I had finished writing my first novel that claimed to be, “the best how to guide” of query letters and literary agents.” Now that I have educated myself a great bit more, all that I can say is, “YES! There is a wrong way to query…and…NO! Do not mass query agents with a failure of a query!”
I hold my head in shame towards any agent that received my first “full proof” query. Considering that I am explaining an embarrassing situation of believing what you see online, I will not offer query advice. I will not offer suggestions on who/how many agents to query at a time. I am willing to share the top 5 sites that I believe that any author/illustrator breaking into the literary circle of the internet should connect with. This is an opinion based on my own errors. I am also not stating that these are the only five sites that you will need. I have listed my personal recommendations of the top five websites that I have benefited from the most, and how to use them to the best of their ability.
Top Five Sites for Literary Connections & Information
http://www.facebook.com/ A simple site that most of us are already on that is hardly used is one of the best ways to promote yourself as an author/illustrator. Think beyond your personal facebook account with listings of your family, friends, people that you never spoke to in high school, and neighbors. Let’s be honest; If you write erotica, your mother or great aunt need not be flooded with your self promotion in their news feed. On the other end of that spectrum, your ex from your “what was I thinking?” days most likely will not support your children’s picture book. Create a page. With a page, you do not have to wait for friend requests, and those who know you do not have to feel obligated to “friend” something that they have no interest in. Facebook allows the space for you to showcase your work- be it illustrations in a photo album or sample writings within the “Notes” section. You can also send links to other sites, such as twitter. A blog or personal website is always a good thing to have, though a facebook.com presence places you on a stage in front of the entire world. (Remember to like the page of #fbwriter on facebook , list yourself, and connect to other literary enthusiasts!)
http://twitter.com/# Yes, twitter. I fully believe that the best networking connections that you can make as an author/illustrator will spawn from an ACTIVE twitter account. People commonly over-think the concept of twitter. If you can post a Facebook or Myspace status, or simply state sometime in a sentence or two, twitter is not beyond you. The tweeting world is full of literary agents, publishers, editors, other friendly authors (both published and not), and READERS!!!! It is simple to located this literary circle by following someone else’s listings, a possible hashtag search (#author, #litagent #publisher, etc…) or by a quick search on a twitter companion site- wefollow.com.
http://blog.nathanbransford.com/ This is a blog written by Nathan Bransford. Not only is he an author, he was also a literary agent with Curtis Brown Ltd. from 2002 to 2010. He is now working in the tech industry. I honestly think that the most informative literary feedback that you may ever find remains within this blog. He often answers the deep rooted questions of literary pondering, though more importantly, he addresses the things that many authors, especially those doing the agent/editor/publisher song and dance for the first time, have not even thought about before.
http://www.thefreedictionary.com/ This site, or a similar, needs to be a saved search or a “favorite” on your web browser. It does not matter if you are a writer or an illustrator, master the skill of communication. If you are unsure, a double check only takes a moment and it may very well keep you from a mistake that you dearly regret. DO NOT send a query with a misspelled word and always make your writing a true craft. Use the dictionary, the thesaurus, and learn a new word each day!
http://querytracker.net/index.php Query Tracker happens to be one of the best sources for locating literary agents. The site allows you to search for an agent by various routes such as genres that they are interested in, market (YA, Middle Grade, Adult, Fiction/NonFiction), or even the area that the agent is from. You can also search for an author similar to your genre and find the agent that represents that author/book. Links to the websites or email addresses are listed when you click on the agents name. I would highly suggest that you check the agent’s website for yourself to be sure that they are accepting queries and that they do still welcome the genre that you have written. I would also suggest checking the feedback left by other authors about the agents. You can normally tell when someone may simply be bitter due to a rejection or if a certain agent seems to lack the professionalism or qualifications needed to be an agent worth querying.