STATUS: I’m working on contracts. Need I say more?
What’s playing on the iPod right now? STICKSHIFTS AND SAFETYBELTS by Cake
I had many interesting chats with editors while I was in New York City this past month but I just remembered one that I had meant to blog about. And then I received an email survey about this very question and that reminded me that I hadn’t yet blogged about it.
The editor and I were talking about not-yet-published writer websites and whether we look at them when we’ve requested sample pages and might be contemplating asking for a full. (The URL is often included in the cover letter.)
For both of us, the answer was “yes.” When reviewing sample pages where we like the writing, we’ll often give the writer website a glance and see what’s there. I don’t bother if the sample pages haven’t caught my interest.
I cannot stress enough how important it is to have a good website, with solid content, if you are going to have one at all. More on this in a minute.
If you don’t have a website, that’s fine too. I’ll still ask for a full manuscript if I like the sample pages enough. There are pros and cons to footing the bill of a website before you are even published so don’t stress about it or run out and get one right now because I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary.
But if you do have a website or blog and you are currently looking for an agent, or to make your first sale, or what have you, I can offer a couple of words of advice.
Don’t have a website/blog unless it can be a professional one. The homemade sites look it and just make me cringe. It won’t keep me from asking for your full (or if I like the novel, offering representation) but it’s not putting your best foot forward and that’s never a benefit.
What content should it have? Well the standard. About you, what you are working on, any cool interests you have that might inspire your writing, workshops you are doing, critique partners or anything about the writing process.
What you might not want to include is a whole play-by-play of your current editor, agent, or publisher search. This could backfire. I have seen sites where an author has clearly outlined all the rejections (sometimes the letters are posted there verbatim!). It would make me think twice about asking for the full (although the one time I encountered it, I did end up requesting the full as opinions can vary widely) but think of the psychology impact of that. If lots of people are saying NO, maybe I’ll think twice about saying YES.
Now once you have that book deal or agent or editor, I think it’s okay to write about it after the fact.
For blogs, remember that the writing you have there needs to be representative of you and your good work. It doesn’t have to be perfect but you shouldn’t blog if the writing doesn’t represent your “usual” quality—if you know what I mean.
In short, if it shows you off to an advantage, then have a website. If it can’t at this point in time, I wouldn’t worry about it.