Ask An Editor: The Answers (part 3)

November 21st, 2008 • Kate

All right, gang, here’s the final round of answers to JenFW’s question: When editors search the internet for further info about a potential author, what are some things that make an impression, good or bad?
One editor who says she doesn’t look online for more info unless she already thinks the book is brilliant, only wants to see the most pertinent, useful info: like if the author is a librarian, is local to NYC, or has a huge blog following.
Another is interested to find if an author writes book reviews, which echoes another’s comment, that what’s most attractive is finding an author who’s appreciative of what else is out there in the field.
If your or your agent’s cover letter mentions awards won, editors want to see those awards posted online. Which may give you pause in mentioning awards not known to any but a minuscule group of people.
And finally, always some good advice: don’t rant about being unappreciated and misunderstood!
So, now I turn things over to you! What advice do YOU have for your fellow writers about an online presence?

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8 Responses to “Ask An Editor: The Answers (part 3)”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Re: Writing book reviews. What if the author writes negative reviews, too? That's not "being appreciative of what else is out there", is it? Would the editor be less inclined to take such an author on?

  2. Carrie Harris Says:

    Don't bite off more than you can chew? I'm turned off when I visit an author's site or blog and find that they last updated it in spring of 2005 or whathaveyou. Why have it if you're not really going to use it?
    That's what I think anyway.

  3. jeanoram Says:

    I didn't expect the part on book reviews. For me, I'd say if you are a good reader and a good writer, you can find something good about any book. You can figure out who it will appeal to and why it would appeal to them and focus your review on that and not the fact that the flowery description was the best way to out you to sleep for the few weeks you struggled through it. 🙂
    As for what to put on a writing site, I'm not sure. I suppose the bio, the blog, the photos, the awards, and all that. Soemthing a little different is a little section on what I am doing for professional development. For example, what I am doing to give back to the writing community, what I am doing to improve myself and all that good stuff. It's a good place to show that you are serious about your career and that you know you have room to improve.
    Thanks for bringing us back the answers!

  4. Tami Says:

    Thank you so much for this whole series. I'm just now getting my website going, and the comments and interviews from this series are really helping me to better frame what I want to accomplish with my own site.
    Thanks!

  5. lotusloquax Says:

    I think it would be fun to do book reviews, but I'm wondering with anon on how negative to be if I really dislike the book. I would want to be honest above all, but I don't want to come across as thinking I'm all that and a bag of chips.

  6. bridgetzinn Says:

    At the Portland Kidlit Bloggers conference we discussed the difference between being an online book reviewer and a book recommender. Often book reviewers are librarians whose goal is to get the best books into kids' and other librarians' hands. Authors on the other hand tend to be book recommenders — they're recommending books they think their readers will like. Being a book reviewer as a librarian makes sense — your job is to judge and evaluate books. Being a book reviewer as an author and putting out negative reviews doesn't serve your goals as a writer and puts you at risk of alienating your colleagues and potential editors.
    My two cents!

  7. Marian Says:

    I'm usually direct when something in a book really didn't work for me – but I always say why. There's a difference between "this how-to book on writing is terrible, it sucks" and "this book tells writers never to use brand names or four-letter words in their fiction, which I don't think is good advice". (Yes, there is such a book on writing)
    I also say when something in a book did work for me. If I ever came across a reviewer or a review site which praised everything and gave all the books four- or five-star reviews, I wouldn't trust the reviewer or the site as much as I'd trust one which was more honest about the positive and negative qualities of all books.
    I don't know if that will get me into trouble with future editors, but I guess it's a risk I'll have to take.

  8. belleenchanted Says:

    I read the thing about book reviews ("what's most attractive is finding an author who's appreciative of what else is out there in the field") as meaning a writer who's keeping abreast of what's being published right now in that specific genre, rather than one who appreciates others' books. So if, say, you write romances, and you write reviews of romances, this would show that you read a lot of what's being published, which means you're current with the trends and what works and what doesn't work.