What Does a Literary Agent Want to See When They Google You?

What Does a Literary Agent Want to See When They Google You?

If you attract an agent’s interest and they want to know more, Google is their next step. An agent typically investigates a client before offering them representation, understandably. If you’re pitching nonfiction and touting a writer platform to help sell books, then a Google peek becomes even more important.

But don’t take my word for it. I asked agents themselves how they use Google, and what they’re looking for when they do. Here are their responses:

“If you provide your website, or say that you are on Twitter or Tumblr, I will look! I always research possible clients, not only to see what they’ve been working on, but also to see if there is a lack of information on the Internet, or potentially controversial or harmful information. An editor will Google the author, and I don’t want to be caught unawares as to what they might find.”

— Roseanne Wells (Marianne Strong Literary Agency)

“I do use Google at times to get more information about people who have queried me. I may be looking to verify information in their query or to check on their professional background. I also have a pool of sources who can verify the veracity of someone’s book, no matter what it’s about.”

— Gina Panettieri (Talcott Notch Literary Services)

“Yes, definitely. I’m looking for a presence online (managing what pops up when someone Googles your name is very important!). If I see a Twitter/Facebook/blog/website (not necessarily all of those things), it lets me know that the author is engaged online and what kind of savvy they have. A publisher will really want the author to help (a lot) with promo, so if the author isn’t already active in the spaces where that will happen—i.e., social media—then I know it’s going to fall to me to teach them to use social media and harangue them into using it.”

— Meredith Barnes (formerly of Lowenstein Associates, Inc.)

“I do Google prospective clients. I want to see how present they are on the web, if any dirt comes up immediately, or if there is anything interesting that the author hasn’t mentioned in their correspondence with me. I often find some bit of information that helps inform my decision—usually in a good way.”

— Bernadette Baker-Baughman (Victoria Sanders & Associates)

Sign with a literary agent

“I always Google prospective clients. I like to see how active they are online and what news outlets have featured them (the more, the better). I also look for their personal website, a blog, how active they are on Twitter, etc. I even use tools like Tweetreach and Klout to see what kind of impact their social networking has. I would expect any editor who receives his or her proposal to do the same.”

Alyssa Reuben (Paradigm Literary)

“I always Google potential authors before signing them up. I need to know how well received they are by the audience they are hoping to write for. Unfortunately you can’t take at face value what people say in proposals. You have to validate information.”

Regina Brooks (Serendipity Literary Agency)

Quick note from Chuck: I am now taking on clients as a freelance editor. If your query or synopsis or manuscript needs a look from a professional, please consider my editing services. Thanks!

“I always Google. Always. Usually at the query stage. I’m looking for how that person presents him- or herself online. Are sites updated? Are they sloppy or professional? Are they complaining about agents and publishing? (That’s a red flag.) I’m also looking at whether I can find the person at all. Sometimes I can’t, and that’s almost always an instant pass.”

— Laurie Abkemeier (DeFiore and Company)

“Sure — I’m looking for how they present themselves, anything that’s raised my curiosity in the query letter, anything that smacks of excitement around them or their subject. I’m not usually looking for something that may have been swept under the rug, but occasionally I do see something that makes me think, Okay, this is a pass.”

— Stephany Evans (FinePrint Literary Management)

Quick note from Chuck: if you’re looking for a writing conference, perhaps one of these below is in your neck of the woods. I’ll be presenting at the following events in 2017:

The giveaway for Chuck’s book Create Your Writer Platform is now over. Thanks for all your comments. Congrats to DeiDei Boltz!

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  • Donna L Sadd says:

    Great post, Chuck. It’s interesting to read how the agents above use Google in vetting potential clients, which is why it’s imperative to always present oneself in a professional manner everywhere on the Internet.

    • Karen Lewis says:

      This is quite an interesting post, Chuck. I really appreciate the behind-the-agents’ door peek. I have been putting off website creation because my first ever book is still getting shopped around, but I’m now going to rethink that position. Thank you so very much!

    • Elana says:

      Agreed completely! I have asked I have had men ask me why I don’t post more revealing photos of myself on my blog well it’s because I’ve always taken myself and my writing very seriously and even though I’ve never made any money as a writer I do consider myself a writer!! I had started on a book a few years back but the very Circumstances that I wihed to document, became too much of an obstacle. so I had planned on keeping many things off the block and saving them for the book but when I realized I wasn’t going to be able to write my own story my own autobiography I just went ahead and put nearly everything on the blog

  • This is really great advice. I’ve read varying authors’ opinions on how soon to start building your platform and I think if you’re just starting out writing, it’s a bit too early but you should definitely have started building by the time you’re at the querying stage. With tools like Blogger or WordPress, you can have a web presence within minutes. It’s the building traffic part that can be tricky. Finding your voice. Being original. (There’s always more to learn!).

    I know about Chuck from WD and any book he’s written on the writing process is going to be invaluable to folks like you (and me) who want to learn. This is a giveaway it would behoove you to enter.

    For another great resource on platform building by a WD-related author, check out Robert Lee Brewer’s blog. In 2012, he did an “April Platform Challenge” that is worth reviewing. It helped me tremendously.

    God bless!

  • Elaine Milner says:

    Excellent article. I promptly googled my name and found I am one of 11 people by the same name. Most of the results pointed to someone else, including an obituary notice! There are 9 of us on LinkedIn and I’ve been thinking lately that I ought to get active on it. I found myself listed on JacketFlap saying I haven’t provided my bio (which is true). There was reference to comments I’d made on workwithflow.com and writerunboxed.com but those were on pages 10 and 14. I’d better get busy!

  • Thanks for the comments, Donna and Lauren. I’m excited to be moving forward as part of TWL team!

  • Ash Krafton says:

    I always considered my Google search results as a reflection of my social presence–and I do my best to keep it a reflection worth having. That means being careful in blog comments, as well–because they are visible to searches.

    It became apparent that I had the right idea back when I was querying agents…an agent wrote me and said he Googled me and read my blog post on having signed with another agent. I remember being a little stunned that someone thought I was worth a search!

    It also really made me realize the value of keeping my digital nose clean for the Google searches to come.

    Great article. Thanks for sharing.

  • I often wondered if agents/editors Googled prospective authors.
    More reason to be diligent about keeping our info current.

  • I’m curious how the agent determines if the google search result is actually the person who queried them. A few years back when I googled myself, the results led to a writer for the Huffington Post. Today, all but one of the links on page 1 lead directly to me. But I have a relatively unusual name and I use a variety of social media — what about the poor soul who shares their name with every other Hayden/Caden/Jaden of their generation?

  • In today’s digital age it’s no surprise that agents would use Google on querying writers, but it is a nice confirmation from the horses’ mouth. One thought when Googling yourself, make sure to log out of your Google accounts to get an idea of what others are seeing. There is a slight variance.

  • Felicia Ruiz says:

    Glad to know I’m on the right track!

  • Meredith Rund says:

    Thanks for the valuable insight, Chuck. I appreciate the candor of the quoted agents/editors. Now, I must Google Tweetreach and Klout. Not familiar with either of these tools or what kind of information they provide.

  • Kurt Bubna says:

    Love it. Now I’m going to go google Chuck Sambuchino just for fun.
    Thank you!

  • I’ve wondered about this! Thanks for the info!

  • Seana Graham says:

    Funny–we were just talking about platforms in a small circle that has grown out of a Writer’s Digest boot camp we recently attended. I haven’t really considered web presence in quite such a serious way before, and I’m glad that I don’t have anything out there that will be a negative surprise for anyone researching me as a potential client. At least I hope I don’t!

  • I’m in the process of querying (fiction) and it’s very helpful to read specific quotes from agents about what they look for/avoid in online information about authors. Thank you!

  • Very interesting and informative. Made me realize how many hats agents wear.


  • It’s because I realized that others might Google me that I decided five years ago to use my middle initial in all social media contexts and in my byline. You might think that Michael Eidson would be relatively distinct (note the last name is not the same as that of the famous inventor), but Google shows plenty Michael Eidson results that aren’t related to me.

    I’m not surprised that agents and editors search Google for info on prospective authors. I’d be more surprised if they didn’t.

    • Kate Thompson says:

      I’ve thought of using my middle initial, too, but I wonder if it works or is okay once you’ve been published without the initial. Does anyone have thoughts about that?

  • I am amazed by what surfaces on Google (and Bing) – WordPress posts and Goodreads comments seem to rise to the top so those are important to keep sane and positive. I also make it a point to comment whenever I have something to add to any conversation online as Ash says above – they are visible too.

    I’ve also made it a point to start early, not wait until I have a success or book published, but create content slowly and methodically on a couple blogs, so when I do “break” (fingers crossed) my new fans will have something more to pour over. 😉
    Thanks, Chuck.

  • I’m often surprised when I Google myself. I forget how much of my life and work is online (I worked for the state library and had to comment on legislation, post to lists, etc.). Also articles have been reprinted in odd newspapers and such (I found an interview that was re-published in Jamaica). Also even with a somewhat less common name, I have to remind people I am NOT the Jeanette Larson who was a Playboy Playmate (get that image out of your mind!).

  • Susan Spann says:

    It’s truly interesting to see how the world has changed since I wrote my first manuscript over a decade ago. Back then, agents were just starting to accept submissions by email (and many still did not). I think the improved online interaction is great for publishing, as well as authors and readers, and I’m glad to see that agents are utilizing the technology to help find authors who want to be engaged in the new media age. As an author, I love the opportunity the Internet offers to connect with readers and other writers, and as a reader I love the authors who respond directly online.

  • I’m not surprised that agents use social media to check on potential clients. Employers in other sectors use it too. It makes sense, especially sense we are talking about a business relationship. Think how disheartening it would be to sign with somebody (one either end) just to find out you can’t work together. On the opposite end, I hope that agents still consider the work presented to them and not pass on a potentially great author just because their media presence is lacking. Maybe they just need to be taught (like I did!) the importance of it.

  • Larry French says:

    Nice article. I like how it mentions in the comments by those reviewed that they are not looking soley at one source but in some cases what ever forms of your social media that they can find. That’s important because a writer’s platform needs to be varied and yet connected in it’s several applications.

  • M Sue Blount says:

    Chuck – Thank you for providing another avenue for newbies seeking information. Have a great ‘hump’ day. I will google myself and work on being interesting.

    Thank you,

  • Rosie Pova says:

    Good to know. Thanks, Chuck.

  • Neil says:

    A strong social media presence? Me? Major bummer. I was having a pretty decent day until I read this. Oh well. Guess I can keep on with my other interest…

  • This is a great piece of advice, and also beneficial for people who have an agent and are now shopping a book to publishers.

    When I first got my agent, I had very little online presence, but now when I Google myself—my blog posts, Twitter feeds etc., cover most of the entire Google search page. Hopefully, every little bit helps in the process.

    Thanks for the great post!

  • Kristen Kirchner says:

    This is very interesting. I’ve always wondered if they do try to see what you are up to on social networks. Whenever I google my own name, a lady from the Apprentice pops up. It takes a while to actually find anything involving me. 🙂

    Thanks for the info!

  • Sarah Kohnle says:

    Thanks for sharing this — definitely one of those “duh” moments, because, as a writer, I always search online for information about an agent. It makes sense that agents would employ the same process. Wish I would have realized that earlier! Time to go to work.

  • Wow: eight for eight… Good thing I “Google” well!

  • Pat McAuliffe says:

    Something about which any writer should be aware and coming from you, all the better! I am likely to Google any new person I encounter and needed to be reminded to update myself online! (Haven’t looked at my business FB page in months!) Thanks for the reminder.

  • I really liked this article, and it’s a question I’ve often wondered about myself! My rule of thumb on my own website is to never post about political issues, or express my opinions on the hot button topics in the news. To me, those are a part of my private life, and have nothing to do with my own personal journey in respect to writing. Occasionally I’ll have a post that is personal and not related to writing – like when I lost both of my dogs last year, otherwise? It’s all about writing.

    Great post!

  • R.A. Boyd says:

    Thanks for the tips and for the free giva-a-way. I googled myself just to see what would pop up, but I never considered an agent checking me out.

  • Sheliza Merchant says:

    I’m currently drafting my first book (fiction) and information such as this is extremely valuable in understanding this new world. Thank you for the article!

  • Barbara Sehr says:

    As someone who was online before Google existed (CompuServe or Source anyone?) I often worried that someone might discover that I am actually the offspring of a Hitler Youth-trained Nazi Luftwaffe pilot turned American rocket scientist who became the only journalist in the world to interview Bill Gates as both a male and female reporter. I am preparing for the day when my forthcoming memoir will put that thought not only into Google, but into the international conscience.

  • Mickey Platko says:

    Does this mean my contribution to Slice’s War Manual, the second big Trade Wars guide, is going to affect my being published? Okay, kidding aside, my day job is with a big corporation, and I can affirm that companies scour their online presence daily to ensure a good image. I’m surprised that agents and publishers do as well, but I think it makes sense. A well-written first chapter or submission query only goes so far when a Google of the author’s website reads: “i’m the 1st to expose the underbelly of society. If your a believer in what u read here, sign up to get my free newsletter.” It’s just really hard to take someone seriously.

  • Joanne Brown says:

    A speaker at the Nor Cal SCBWI Spring Spirit conference in April said we shouldn’t reference our website or blog in the bio section of query letters. Seems like she was out-of-date. In this fast changing digital world, why not give all those Googling agents a hand-up?

  • Agents can be cool cats, and cats always have a keen sense of curiosity, so Googling authors who have queried is a no-brainer for them.

    Glad you pointed this out, Chuck.

  • Thanks for the information. I have googled my name and found my 2 books and memberships in clubs.

  • Astrid says:

    I think what’s just as important as what you write is how it appears. A bad, unattended social media presence is probably worse than none at all (or just a FB/Twitter presence). One of the first things I did prior to pitching my completed book was to get my main blog in order. With an unusual name, it won’t take anyone long to track me down, so I want that first impression to be a good one.

    Agents/publishers are busy people: if the first thing they see is sloppy, chances are they won’t dig any deeper.

    • Scarlett J Davenport says:

      Question: What do you blog about when you’re an aspiring author with a novel but no platform and no past authoring/literary experience to write about? What does one in that situation start blogging about?

  • I love information like this – straight from the horse’s mouths, as we say around here. Thanks to all the agents for their generosity and thanks to you, Chuck!

    As a freelance editor, I attempt to learn all I can about the publishing process, including agent queries and author platforms, so I may more fully support my author clients. Many of those clients have poured many years of creative energy into writing their book and then find it difficult to plunge into the ‘business’ of making their book, and themselves, known to the buying public.

    I believe many authors have never viewed publishing their book as a business venture and are deeply unprepared for navigating what appear to be massive waters.
    Which makes a column like this important and an impactful tool in learning the bare minimum your agent is looking for: you as a presence on the ‘net.

    Good luck all!

  • Chrystal Lee Stevens says:

    Great article! Knowing the above info makes me so glad that I always present myself in a professional manner on the internet. Also it makes me realize that I need to make sure that I always keep things on my Twitter and Facebook updated specifically by getting in my accounts at least once a week.

  • Jonathan S. says:

    Thanks, as usual for the great insight and comments. Makes me realize I need to figure out what’s out there on me.

  • Cat Campbell says:

    The article is appreciated very much, as I have been wondering about agents and Google. I also like the book giveaway and even if I don’t win, thank you for offering the opportunity.

  • I google myself all the time, but my sister says I should stop or I’ll go blind. Anyway, I usually google the agents I query so why shouldn’t they check me out, too.

  • Jennifer Mattox says:

    I’ve always wondered about this. Thanks, Chuck! I’m seeing more of mentions of Twitter than facebook by these agents. Does this mean Twitter is a more important social media platform for writers?

  • This was eyeopening! I had not googled myself and I admit to some shock at what is out there! Thanks for suggesting this! Thanks to everyone for sharing — this is a real learning experience!

  • Thanks for the good advice. It’s fun to see that you actually exist when you Google your name. I’ve already got both of your books, and they are great. I just wish I had read “Create Your Writer Platform” before “2013 Guide to Literary Agents.” Then I would have known how much work I had in front of me before contacting prospective agents!

  • Mica Rossi says:

    I’ve often wondered if what I put out there will have any impact, especially since I’m so new to social media. The fact that agents do look will give me a push to market myself better and more often. Thanks for such an informative topic.

  • Aha! I am not the least bit surprised. In fact, every time I send out a query, I’ve noticed several hits to my About the Author page. I always wonder if I got an agent interested enough to look. And maybe I have!

  • Jennifer Van Haaften says:

    As someone who hires in my business, I sometimes use google and Facebook to see what kind of on-line life my potentials use. It makes sense that agents might do the same, just nothing I had thought of. It’s been a while since I googled myself, so it is interesting to see what of me came up this time. I am wary of keeping my nose clean in my on-line presence.

  • Judith Robl says:

    Thanks for the kick in the keister to get busy checking myself out and polishing my online image.

  • J.M. Surra says:

    Talk about an eye-opener. I decided to Google myself, and before long, I found a comment I made a few years ago, shooting off my mouth, talking about about how agents and publishers were the past and indie publishing is the future. I’ve learned how untrue that really is since then. It’s interesting to look back and see how much we learn as we go. It’s also painful to note how few of those rash, heat-of-the-moment comments can be removed. The statements from the agents show how much damage they can do to your writing career.
    Thanks for this article, Chuck.

  • Such a great post. I have such a hard time getting this across to new authors. Your query can be fantastic, your book can be literary gold, but if you’re not Googleable, you’re going to get a form rejection.

    How come no Google+ share button? I’d like to spread the word!

  • allergicvegetarian says:

    I’ve been trying to get noticed in the world where Food allergies are concerned, as I hope to one day create a cookbook for those with odd ball food allergy combinations, as well as create recipes for those on a more normal diet. Another part of me wants to write a Children’s series. I’ve started it, but just need to keep working on rewrites.

    Yes, I would find it helpful to read your book, and do hope I win. Why? Creativity is something that I need to harness. Anyone can sit down and write dribble, but it takes harnessing those creative juices to make that dribble sing on the page.

  • Jess says:

    Great post. I’ve warned my writer buds over and over that agents/editors use Google, but I don’t think they believed me. If we writers use it, only stands to reason agents and editors would too. I have a friend who got her agent early one morning and lost her that afternoon because of something she put on her blog.

    Don’t put my name in the hat for your book. I’ve bought it! 🙂 I appreciate you, Chuck. Thanks for all you share.

  • WordsofAthena says:

    This article provides a conundrum to people like me, who have significant experience managing other people’s social media, or garnering attention under a few different handles, but try to keep our own personal footprint minuscule! That’s why I’ve turned to building up my pen name. This article reinforces how important having something to look at is. The give-away tied to commenting on this article is also very clever and effective–a technique I will tuck away for a rainy day.

  • Thank you for this post Chuck! It’s a good reminder to keep our websites very up-to-date!

  • Great food for thought, Thanks Chuck.

  • Christina says:

    Great info Chuck! I always enjoy your articles and this confirms that my currently unpaid social media efforts actually do pay off in the end.

  • Good reminders! And last weekend I heard an agent (on a panel) say she’d search for a writer who’d queried her and found him dissing her on a forum — not good! Be nice, and if you can’t be nice, be polite. 🙂

  • Megan and Jeanette made reference to sharing their names with or having similar names to other people. I have that same dilemma. Angelica Bella is a porn star. Her name sometimes gets misspelled as mine. Should I mention that in my query letters? Because mentioning porn stars when you’re a Christian author seems like a bad idea. I’m pretty sure my picture makes it clear that I’m a demure lady, but you never know.

  • Sally Nutter says:

    I am so happy to have this information! I love my social network sites and have fun with them, but I hadn’t realized they could help my writing career. That makes them even more fun.

    I have so much to say, and now, I have all the more reason to go ahead and say it!

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Mick says:

    It’s an excellent read. It is frank and informative about writers’ need to think and strategize in order to polish their profiles and think like marketers as well.

  • Thanks for the info…I found on-the-spot feedback from targeted readers at a rally to be an excellent way to find out what they want, too. It seems as though many of my biker friends prefer audio books…hmmm, gotta work on that!

  • lorie bowman says:

    I found this article extremely interesting and helpful. I have a Facebook account (one of the agents mentioned checking for those). I, however, have mine set to private as I am employed within a public school. I have been putting off starting a blog, but now see that it is a good idea to kick myself into gear and get it going. Thanks for the article!!

  • Carol Neumann says:

    Thanks for the great post. I will google myself to see what I find, but I have a very common name and wonder how they will know if they found the right one.

  • Trish says:

    Well, there’s finally an upside to my Facebook addiction… 🙂

  • Jeanette says:

    Great post. Thank you.

  • Allen Taylor says:

    Managing your reputation online is absolutely essential. That looks like a good book, by the way.

  • Thanks Chuck. I always wondered if I am wasting my time, obviously not!

  • Debbie says:

    What an interesting subject matter for an article! I really never thought about it before and now that I read your article it worries me: I subscribe to a “privacy” company that removes a lot of personal information about me, for obvious reasons. However, now that I read where agents may not even consider your query if they can’t find you online, I’m really concerned. How do you strike a balance?

  • Lauren says:

    It makes perfect sense. When I’m researching agents, I Google them. I’d be surprised if an agent didn’t Google a prospective client.

    I wouldn’t want to be represented by an agent who doesn’t do their due diligence.

    Interesting post. You put into words what many of us already suspected.

  • I knew that employers Googled prospective employees and colleges do likewise for prospective students so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that editors and agents looked up writers online.

    That said, I hadn’t thought to look myself up in a while so thank you for the reminder, Chuck! I was gratified to see that I have a pretty nice record. I’ve been using the Internet since the beginning and my clean and good record of involvement has paid off. 🙂

  • Fabulous post. And I’m looking forward to reading the book!

  • Clarissa Kae says:

    Good to know – especially since I’ve queried three of these agents!

  • Thanks for this article. I was amazed to find that without fail they all checked out clients online. And to think, I was once dragged kicking into my own webpage. I appreciate your articles and blog.

  • Raydeen says:

    Social Media is a double edged sword… it’s free… GOOD… it still needs to be tended… or you’ll have issues later… BAD… lots to think about… thanks

  • Great post! I wondered. Authors hear an agent won’t take the time, but I suspected s/he would if there’s interest. I’m looking forward to Chuck Sambuchino’s book. He’s a storehouse of information. I’ve learned a lot from him.

  • Sam says:

    Thank you for a very valuable postM

  • As an editor, I always google a perspective author, at least once they’ve cleared the initial hurdles so that I’m thinking of inviting them to submit the full manuscript. You’d be amazed at the things that turn up that they hadn’t mentioned in their cover letters, such as the manuscript in question has already been published somewhere else…kind of important! Or that they are in a flame war with another publisher — if you’re putting down another editor or publisher, why would I want to risk working with you and having you do that to me? Or their facebook page explains that the book is actually being dictated by their cat. Okay, that last one might not rule out the manuscript if the cat is good, but one thing I’m looking for is whether the author is someone who could interview well or self-promote online…if they are crazy, has to be the right kind of crazy. Mind you, we have signed authors even when we have turned up very negative information on the web…but then there has to be a frank conversation about whatever that is and be convinced that it isn’t going to be an issue for the book. But you can’t hide from it. Mostly, though, I’m looking because I want to know who I am working with. Is this a young author I can develop, or is this someone with 10 books out already? Both of those could be good, but there is no point my explaining something to a veteran they already know, or make the mistake of assuming a new author knows something obvious that isn’t really obvious until later in their career. So if I know who you are, I have a better chance of making the appropriate editorial comments and saving us both a lot of extra work. To take just one example.

    • I totally understand your input on checking out whose work you are editing. This is why I like to check with Chuck.

      This is my recent experience.

      I am a fairly new writer. I recently sent my work… a book of Children’s poem to a publishing company in London. I was sailing along nicely, with high expectations. However, when I received a contract, I was informed that I had to pay two thousand and fifty pounds to have my book published. I was surprised. I had to let it go. It broke me for about a month. I am back on track.

  • Iris Madelyn says:

    Great information! Thanks. I’m not surprised to learn that agents and editors Google potential clients but it is good to be reminded. I’ve worked extensively with the population that would be my target audience when I’m ready to query. My dilemma, however, is a recent name change. I’ve started to use my middle name for art exhibitions and include my full name in written works to be sure some cross-references show up when either name is searched. I hope this helps keep consistency but if folks have suggestions for the best way to handle this situation, I’d love to hear it.

    Thanks again.

    • That was very good information, I have always wondered what king of platform I needed to create, I have a website with NAIWE, and I have started to put sample pages of the two books I have written.
      I look at some listings of Agents, and they are all over the map in what they want, and some of them sound like they only want to get what they specify, so one comment, is make sure what the agent wants and do exactly what he wants.

  • The day I decided I wanted to take my writing to another level, I chose to work on my platform. Yes, it takes time and effort on my part to connect with different people online but since they are potentially my future reader base, why would I NOT want to do this? Besides, I LOVE connecting with people and exchanging ideas so my blog, FB page, Twitter account, Linkedin account and any other social website I am a part of is simply another way for others (agents, editors, etc) to get a taste of the real me…;~)

  • Colin says:

    Very useful information, Chuck. I expect interested agents to check websites/blogs, and not always just at the query stage. I’ve known of agents who will “drop in” on blogs of people who comment on their blogs. It pays to always be ready. The guy who expects his dream-girl to drop by unexpectedly will make sure his home is ready to create a good impression. 🙂

  • Robert says:

    I’ve warned people on my blog that what you do online is out there forever and can hurt your reputation.

    The agents comments echoed that.

    What you say and how you say it is important to how you are perceived by agents and potential readers and clients in a freelance writing business.

    All writing is a business and writers need to conduct themselves accordingly.

  • Hi! Awesome post! That was very interesting to read about how agents Google you. Thanks for that info! (: I love to write about urban fantasies. It helps me as an artist to create art work that is mystical. Or just to escape into the realms of my imagination for a while and think of story lines. I started out with poetry but it soon progressed to writing mini fantasy stories and so on.

  • Kevin Loud says:

    It’s always great to get incite from the experts. Thanks for sharing their experiences.

  • Greg Lara says:

    According to Google, I am a nutritionist, own a day spa (that’s D. A. I. Y. E.), graduated from an art institute in California, and am a CFO. I’d say things are looking good!! 😛

    *types speedily, completing MS in just a few last keystrokes*


  • As always, another fabulous post! Great advice!

  • Nicolia says:

    Great advice! It makes perfect sense now that I’ve read it, but I never really considered that agents will actively research your online presence. It’s almost like a background check/reviewing references for a job.

  • Allie says:

    Great article! It’s amazing how prominent the internet has become in our lives and careers. There was a time when we didn’t have to think about things like this. It’s refreshing to read something that centers around this kind of thing. A lot of people don’t think about “What is Google going to bring up about me while I’m trying to get my book published?” (Or even if you’re trying to get a job or anything else like that.)

  • Sharon Greene says:

    Excellent article! I’m off to google myself now. I’d really like a copy of your book.

  • Nicky Moxey says:

    This sounds like an argument against having a pen name?

  • Very informative! I’m glad that I am establishing a social media presence, and that I maintain my professionalism in my posts. Confirmation that I’m on the right track!

  • karan abrari says:

    Thanks for the article. My first impression was, OMG there is another stage added to the query turmoil which is to try to persuade her to google you!

  • sarah duarte says:

    So helpful.

  • Seth McLane says:

    This is helpful and eye opening. Fortunately, I don’t have any closeted skeletons…because my closet’s empty. I’ve got to become more active online.

  • Adrienne May says:

    Thanks for sharing this post Chuck. I think your points about internet presence, social media and background verification with respect to agents and editors are also true for children’s book illustrators.

  • Janet W says:

    This may be one of the most important posts ever! 🙂 I have googled myself to see what comes up. I have tried to keep my public profile as separate from my private one as possible. If we use a pen name will they search both?

  • I started building a web presence years ago, long before I ever heard the term. I was on the web for fun and for work. One thing we all need to remember, though, a web presence is of little use if we don’t have completed manuscripts to pitch. Sometimes I wish I had spent less time on the web and more time writing!

  • Lindsay Curry says:

    Thanks for this article! It’s helpful to know how important our online presence is.

  • Lisa Gomley says:

    Great post Chuck! I can’t say that I am surprised that they Google writers, especially since the relationship between agent and author is so important. And since they represent the writer they have a lot at stake.

    When I Google my name it always brings up for Lisa Gormley, an Australian actess, who recently had a bathing suit malfunction.

    But before posting this I Googled myself again and saw something that concerned me. I am not familiar with Klout but after reading this post was going to check it out. Imagine my surprise during my search when there was a link to Klout and when I opened it up there was my picture. I also saw a list of people that have influenced me and I was not sure who most of them were. I have never signed up with them and wonder if agents/editors are aware of that.

  • Julie Anne Wight says:

    Great tips. Definitely an important thing for a writer to have an online presence, but to be sure that presence doesn’t reflect negatively upon the writer.

  • C.N. Levin says:

    Thank you for your very informative post, Chuck!
    Several years ago, I had the privilege of working as a literary assistant in a top agency in Los Angeles. I witnessed first hand that agents are incredibly hard-working and extremely dedicated to their clients. It truly shaped my own work ethic. I learned that professionalism is key and to work as hard as tneeded on any project. In this day and age, being a writer means we write and we build our platform. Hard work and time-consuming? Sure, but so is building any new business. A dedicated agent who works 12 hours a day will surely appreciate a writer who is just as dedicated. Your post reminded me that our online presence is paramount to being a writer these days. Thanks again for your post and look forward to reading your book!

  • Lois Hudson says:

    Thanks for this “boot.” I’ve been lazy about the whole online presence.
    Thanks for the opportunity to win your book.

  • Lisanne Cooper says:

    I’m on Facebook but don’t use other social media. I had a website at one time but didn’t get much traffic so I’m wondering how to go about that.

    Do agents ever consider helping prospective clients who may not be social media savvy but are willing to learn? I know Meredith Barnes mentioned that she knew it would fall to her to teach such a client, but how willing are agents in general to help new authors in this area?

  • Kristin Pitts says:

    I have always told my students to be cautious of What they post on social media sites because of potential employers doing background checks. Now I wish I would have pushed more on the importance of being on it, in a variety of platforms, and showing them the Right Way to create a presence.

  • Thanks for the reminder to do this! I’m happy with what comes up, finding readers/followers is what’s tough. Slow, but steady, is what seems best.

  • Thanks for bringing this up. I am new to following my dream of becoming a writer, and I never realized how intertwined the worlds of literature, Twitter, and blogs were. I’m going to beef up my virtual presence!

  • Natalie Bonilla says:

    I admit that even though I’m a teen, I don’t care much for social networking sites. I would much rather go out and speak to someone face to face. However, the agents responses have made me realize that social networking isn’t just used for gossip, or for wide-spread of rumors. Google, twitter, and facebook can be used as a tool for ones career, and expanding business. Thank you so much Chuck, I greatly appreciate it!

  • I first learned about the need for a platform at a writer’s group I used to belong to and immediately started my blog and initiated a Twitter account. And now your great blog posts validates the need. Thank you so much!

  • Jennifer D. Bushroe says:

    Nice to see you here, Mr. Sambuchino! Your posts are always so helpful on the Writer’s Digest website, in whatever stage I’m in (writing, editing, querying, etc.).

    I’ve Googled myself several times over the years just to make sure my name isn’t besmirched, but I know I really need to start a blog and get myself out there! I’ve been putting it off for years, afraid that I’d do more harm than good to my image if no one read it. But I just need to suck it up and give it a try! 🙂

  • Mandy Yates says:

    After reading this article, I will be purchasing this book regardless if I win or not. I knew online presence was important, but obviously it’s very important.

  • Chris Kelly says:

    I have a body of medical writing content on the web, but am wondering if this dates me when querying YA? Looks like most agents are in their 30s, so they would be Goggling links to articles published several years ago. Wonder if this is a prob when querying.

    Great posts here, BTW.

  • Great article. I’ve always believed this. Nice to hear it right from agents that it is true.

  • J Sidari says:

    Great info. There is so much social media out there it is ghard to know where to put your effort, though. Facebook, Twitter, pinterest, goodreads, LinkedIn, etc. And then whether you have a website or not. It can be overwhelming, but its good to hear the effort is worth it.

  • Great article. Thanks for sharing! It’s always great to get inside the minds of agents.

  • Thanks so much for the constructive information! I’ve just started a blog, and now have a better understanding of the value of my online presence!

  • Thank you for sharing this information. I would hope that everyone understands the importance of having an online presence, and the value of a positive attitude but this is a great reminder.

  • Ransom says:

    Wonderful article! I’ve heard many pieces of advice about what to do to be visible, but it is not as common to hear it from the agents as they choose to search for that information.

  • Maybe I should Google myself and see what comes up!

  • So interesting to know that agents are googling prospective clients. Thanks for sharing this.

  • Debbie says:

    Very informative. Thanks!

  • Great article! I googled myself and fund that 5 of the links on the first page (including the first one!) were me so that’s a good start. But I really need to be more engaged in terms of social media–a challenge since I spend so much time writing!

  • Season says:

    Thanks for this. It’s a great look into agents’ heads. Now I’m off to google myself. (When did that become a verb?)

  • Thanks for passing along these quotes, Chuck. It’s always good to hear what agents are thinking. It’s great that you’re making it possible for us to get their perspective.


  • You’ve given me a lot to think about. Better get to work creating a bigger footprint on the Internet. Thanks, Chuck.

  • Helen Fields says:

    Thanks for the article, Chuck.

    I would expect agents to use Google; it’s a valuable tool. Good to know just how much impact a solid online presence has.

  • lisa says:

    This is great encouragement. I would love to read this book. Two years ago when you googled my name… nothing. Now my writing is there, I’m heading in the right direction. I love connecting with people, it’s was so much less painful that I had imagined.

  • Angela Buchanan says:

    Definitely want that awesome online presence. In editing mode of my first book. And trying to get that online presence going. Very interested to read your book.

  • JLOakley says:

    Chuck, I especially appreciate the quotes by the agents in the post. I’ve been going around and making sure my website, Google+ site, just plain Google is up to date and easily accessed.

  • Candace Wellman says:

    Last week I was at the Pacific Northwest Writers Conference and many agents and editors from New York were there to hear pitches and teach. Over and over we heard that we need to know what Google has “to say” about us when our name is searched. And they all said they Google everyone and want to find a presence of some kind and no embarrassments.

  • Great post regarding Google and social media presence in general. I notice I get a more streamlined search result when I add author after my name. (ie – Linda Rawlins author)

  • Heather Rose Walters says:

    Thanks so much for sharing such an insigtful article. It’s a great reminder!

  • Lynn Rogalsky says:

    Thank you for this insightful article reminding us our words have power either to the good or bad. Also, thank you for the opportunity to win a copy of your new book, “Create Your Writer Platform.”

  • This is new information to me, and although as enlightening as it is, it puts an extra weight on my shoulders as to what is expected from me as an aspiring author. The whole publishing business feels too tiresome to me, yet I believe it is the only way for true glory. Self-publishing is only a pacifier, and rarely, very rarely indeed, founds a career path for the author.

    • Lynn Swayze says:

      “The whole publishing business feels too tiresome to me, yet I believe it is the only way for true glory. Self-publishing is only a pacifier, and rarely, very rarely indeed, founds a career path for the author.”

      Why are you doing it, then? Why not find an art form that actually speaks to you? Photography, painting, film making, blogging?

      Reply to the original post:

      This is precisely why I use my maiden name (Swayze) and not my married name (Wilson) as my writing name. It’s MUCH easier to find me online. 🙂

      • I was talking about publishing not writing Lynne. I have always written and I believe I always will. The publishing stage though requires extra-curricular activitis by the writer, that’s where things get hard. I am not alone in my opinion, and I don’t mind if I were, established authors like philippa Gregory said when she was asked if there was anything that she didn’t like about writing, that she liked everything about writing, it is the editing and the publishing stage that she struggles with.
        Every thing has its pros and cons Lynne, if dates were not so sweet no one would have climbed so high to get them.

        • Haythem, the traditional publishing route is not a guaranteed path to a writing career either, and it’s not the only way to “true glory.” There are living, breathing examples that self-publishers can make it in the business. So it doesn’t help anyone to make such broad, negative statements as you made. If self-publishing is not for you, then it’s fine to say so, but to make statements that imply its not appropriate for anyone who wants a writing career is being disrespectful to those who have made it in self-publishing and who will make it in the future, despite your negativity and that of many others like you.

          • Michael, everyone is entitled to his opinion and if you find mine negative then so be it, and attacking with such words will not change a thing. However, if you read my comment carefully you will realize that I didn’t completely rule out self publishing as an option as I said it very rarely leads somewhere. I believe the traditional route is more likely to establish the author’s career, how many Hemingways, or Steinbecks were self published? If all what you are thinking about is earning a living through self-publishing then it’s a different story.

          • Hi, Haythem. I was referring to the negativity of implying that self-publishing cannot lead to true glory, and your statement that self-publishing is only a pacifier. I consider these as negative statements against self-publishing. You have every right to make these statements, but I do not see what purpose they serve in a community of writers, some of whom are going the self-publishing route. They discourage rather than encourage.

            It takes determination and talent to succeed whether one goes the traditional route or the self-published route. Granted, the self-published route opens doors for many not-so-determined and not-so-talented people to make an attempt at a writing career, but those who are serious about it will go the extra mile, doing everything that a traditional publisher would have done for them, getting beta readers, paying for professional editors, paying for professional cover art, etc. To say that self-publishing is a pacifier (your word) is disrespectful to those authors who are putting in the time and effort required to make a difference in the book world. Hemingway and Steinbeck attained true glory because they wrote truly great fiction. That is still the requirement for true glory today, whether you go the traditional route or the self-published route. If your writing is atrocious, you won’t find true glory no matter what route you choose, its just that the traditional publishing route will stop you at the door, whereas the self-publishing route won’t. The failures of the many, however, should not be used to discourage others who are more talented from following whatever path they choose.

  • This information about what agents look for online is very helpful. Thank you.

  • Erin Lale says:

    When I was running for office, I googled myself obsessively to see what people were saying about me. I’m still in the habit of checking occasionally to see what comes up, but it’s harder now to see what someone else using google would see because of the new algorithms that show you what it thinks you’re interested in. Now I occasionally have to get one of my friends to google me to see what comes up on a computer that google doesn’t know is being operated by me.

  • Wow, I knew agents and editors would Google a client, but didn’t realize it was in the querying stage as well. It looks like I’m doing everything right, but I think I’ll Google myself just to be sure. Thanks for the fabulous information!

  • Robert Grede says:

    This is true for both fiction and non-fiction writers, but platform seems far more important to the non-fiction writer. My agent tells me if I don’t have over 1,000 followers, an editor [non-fiction] won’t even look at me.

    For fiction, it’s more about literary awards, short-story publication, et al. But those can usually be found through a Google search, too.

  • Are people using Google + much? I do Facebook and some tweeting, but now I’m hearing Google + is the new, latest thing to be on.

  • Rita Pierrottie says:

    I’m just now finishing up my first book and have so much to learn. Your book would surely help.

  • Jen says:

    You’ve got to be consistent across all your platforms and make sure you’re not putting anything out there that could be detrimental. Sometimes it feels like it’s easier said than done. Good advice to remember.

  • Great post, Chuck. Thanks! I Google agents, so I guess I not only expect them to Google me…I can’t wait for them to Google me! One thing your readers need to know is that building a platform can be a long, slow process. Don’t expect to launch a web site start a blog, get on Twitter, and have a zillion followers overnight (unless your name happens to be Bieber). Social networking takes lots of time and commitment. I’m always amazed by the people who are Twittering all day. How do they get any work done?

  • Alison Law says:

    This seems like a great tool for writers who wish to be published. You must always treat your book like a business.

  • Donitta says:

    Good info! It was especially interesting to learn that having NO internet presence is a bad thing; sort of like have no credit can be worse than bad credit!

  • Great tips! I wonder how what agents are looking for varies between nonfiction and fiction queries.

  • Arlene says:

    I always make sure to google my images as well as doing a regular search! With Facebook, Instagram, pinterest, etc., you can be tagged by others in photos you may not want to be out for all to see- in photos you might not have even posted!

    ….maintaining a professional image online is important no matter what your line of work.

  • Anne B. says:

    This is really great information. I always Google myself when I want to make sure I exist, and I am always astounded at how many times my name appears.

    It makes complete sense that, in this day of platform building and trying to stand out in the crowd, that agents would google a prospective client.
    Thanks again for the article!

  • Good information! Especially for an author who’s getting her feet wet in the promotion business side of writing. Thanks for the editors’ advice.

  • Amanda W says:

    Great article! I know I’ve been trying to increase my social media presence for a while. Any thoughts on the differences between marketing yourself for fiction versus non-fiction authors?

  • I wonder if having multiple blogs for different “audiences” would help or hurt? I have three blogs, only one of which is related in any way to writing.

  • Kelly Saderholm says:

    Chuck, I attended you talk on platform at SOKY last spring. I borrowed a copy of your book and took it on vacation- now I want my own copy/ It is a terrific book. I’m just now beginning to build a platform (I write fiction) but I am so glad that this resourse is available to get me started. This is a great article. Thanks!

  • D'Ann Renner says:

    This as really a good incentive for me. I have a FB author page I’ve been MEANING to update, and I KNOW I need to post blogs more frequently on my website. This will encourage me to do so. I also plan to print this and pass it out in a week, when our writer’s group meets to discuss promotion.

  • Jody Worsham says:

    That’s only fair. I google agents to see how successful they are, number of clients, who are their clients, types of books they represent, and if they are legitimate before I send out a query.

  • It’s only fair they google me. I’ve googled them thoroughly before sending that query.

  • Stephanie says:

    Great post. It was very informative. I’m so glad I already have a few websites, twitter accounts, and tumblrs that go towards my books to help promote them. I never knew literary agents would look these things up.

  • Ken Boehs says:

    Dear Chuck,
    I feel I made a big mistake. I did everything but social media and was rejected by 20 agents. I then stepped back to work on my platform. I hired some professionals and now have an active Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest/Goodreads accounts. I also made a promo video which has gained some traction through Facebook and my personal website I use MailChimp to communicate by email. I’ve been reviewed by a few bloggers and am working on more reviews. I’ve done a radio show and book signing.

    Building the platform was a huge task. I can see why agents want to know they that an author is capable of creating a platform before considering working with them.

    Here’s my question
    Can I resubmit to my top agent choices?

  • Thank you for this article. It confirms what I had already assumed.
    It goes both ways, right? Before sending a query, we writers Google agents to find out as much about them as well, to be sure we would be a good match. So it’s only normal agents and editors Google us in return.

  • GREAT POST!!! I had heard it was essential for aspiring writers to develop an online presence, even if they had not yet begun the submission process. For this reason I started a website and blog several months ago and try very hard to update it regularly. I also try to stress to my fellow writing friends how important social media is these days, and this article just confirms that importance! Thanks so much for the info, I will be passing this along! 🙂

  • Tereasa says:

    Great article. I’m going to google myself & see what I find

  • ” . . . I know it’s going to fall to me to teach them to use social media and harangue them into using it” What a useful comment! I feel highly motivated to keep working on my online presence so no one will feel they have to harangue me. (Teaching is another matter.)

  • This piece provides great insight into the reality of how agents research prospective clients. Helps us writers to prepare ourselves that much more. Thanks, Chuck!

  • Great information! I think everyone needs to be aware of their internet footprint.

  • I’ve been more or less dragged kicking and screaming into the internet social media, and I still do not understand it or its possibilities very well, but reading your blog made me aware of how important it must be. I need a class or something to help me be cognizant of the basics. But I can see you’ve done a lot of work here to bring us the straight information. Thank you for stating it plainly and clearly. I’m going to go find out how Googling works.

  • This is a great article. The sole reason I started a blog was for online presence. A couple of years ago, a published author told me that agents and publishers google all prospective clients. He went on to say that a well-maintained blog or website should be mentioned in every query.
    Here is additional advice that I’d like to pass along. The first thing a serious writer should do is google their own name. No matter how unique you think your name is, it is already out there. I regret not using an initial or middle name . It would alleviate a lot of identification confusion and give a better google presence.

  • Gloria Oren says:

    Chuck, thanks for such a great post. I’m querying my adoption memoir and though I’ve Googled myself from time to time, I wasn’t aware that agents take the time in their busy schedule to Google us, too, when we submit a query. Thanks for the insight. I think it is time to Google myself again and do some updates on profiles, check that all is in place, and see what comes up where. Is it only Google they check, or do some Bling it as well?


  • John says:

    I changed the format of my name; it has a twist on an irish lit theme so that if I google jonoboyle it comes in the first three links the others being my fb page for it and linked in. Snap up all the google spots when you set out, I can also go to any social event and tell someone to save my name or google it there increasing exposure easily and racking up hits….still not published yet, will get there by the end of this year.

    jonoboyle jonoboyle jonoboyle xxx

  • Michele says:

    Glad that I have an online presence.

  • Sharon Greene says:

    Having a very common name, googling myself made me seem like a woman of many newsworthy talents, most of which I can’t take credit for. I sure would love a copy of your book.

  • Jessie says:

    This is so helpful, thank you! My only question is what if someone else has my same name and shows up on google instead of me?

  • Mande' says:

    Great post. It’s nice to know all my social networking will be viewed. It’s also great to get to hear exactly what the agents will be looking for.

  • Alicia says:

    This is great information to have. I have an online presence, but I could be more active. Knowing that agents look at your online presence, I’m probably going to step it up a notch.

    I really like that you interviewed real agents instead of writing an article like “10 Things Agents Look for Online.” This was a lot more useful to me, so thank you!

  • Nichole says:

    I’m still iffy about putting my real name out on the internet on certain things. I have a twitter, instagram, and personal blog, but my real name isn’t attached to those things. As an author, I’ve been struggling with whether to go with a pen name or my real name, because I am a private person. I did google my name though and another girl with my name monopolizes the results. I’m almost wondering if I should just go with a pen name to separate myself.

  • Great post. And so were several others that I checked out.

  • patricia says:

    Great advice as usual, Chuck! Thanks for your generosity in sharing info.

  • Mary M says:

    Very interesting article! I’ve been dragging my feet getting on board with social media because I’ve wanted to devote my time to writing pieces I hope to get published. (I think I’m close.) I’m certainly going to rethink this, though. I like hearing what agents do to vet an author.

  • Amy Morse says:

    Really useful, thanks Chuck. I already have the book and I am finding it invaluable – right, I’m off to go and google myself now!

  • Todd Wyatt says:

    For a long time I declined to Google myself thinking of it as a “vanity search.” When I finally did, I discovered that nearly all search engines don’t like punctuation in names and searching on T.Rob returns hits on things like “don’t rob me.”

    If you search on “T.Rob” (with quotes) you get hits, but there are a couple of athletes who go by T.Rob and slurp up lots of Google love. They are invariably tall, young, good looking, black guys – the opposite of me in almost every respect. There’s also about 60 T.Rob on Twitter who are not me, belying the oft-repeated comment that it’s an unusual name.

    So my advice is if you have punctuation in your name and search is important and you are just establishing your online presence, drop the punctuation if possible! Also, try to not have the same name as an athlete if you want to show up in search. If you do share a name with a famous athlete, don’t try to give them a career-ending injury because it just makes them more famous and it’s hard to query agents successfully from jail.

  • I’ve been hearing that agents/publishers do check you out online, and this article proves it. Glad to have something to show some fellow writers who don’t realize how social media is integrated into changes in the publishing industry. Thank you!

  • Robert Medak says:

    Social media, website, and a blog establishes a presence for the writer to be found.

    But, unless I missed it, I see nothing about a marketing plan. More and more today, it is up to the writer to sell books, and not so much the publisher.

  • Great stuff! When I google my name, I find out there are a whole lot of other Laurie Marshalls out there and I’m invisible. Probably not ideal, huh??

  • Sharalyn says:

    Thanks for the information. I’ll try it and see what I find out about myself.

  • Cynthia Franks says:

    I would think is this would not need to be said as I assume any one I send anything to will Google me, but I’ve met writers that seem to think they are the only ones to use Google for this purpose. And writer’s who refuse to use social media for fear of some one stealing their ideas.

    I’ve fairly internet/social media savvy, but I learned something from this article, I didn’t know about Tweetreach and Klout. I’m going to have to explore these.

    I do have a question, what if there is another writer out there with your same name? And she’s not a very good writer but puts out a lot of amateurish self-publised books?

    • That’s a tough one, Cynthia! I’d think that perhaps using a slightly different version of your name as a pen name could work (e.g. adding a middle initial), but it’s not ideal. What options are you considering?

  • Elizabeth McBride says:

    Yes, I think it is website time. Thank you for the fine article. Clearly, I need to make some changes. I write for both the children and adults, so I am wanting to be sure each facet of my online presence supports the other. I need to read your book, Chuck! Your article brought up many questions. I have resisted entering into the social media because I was not sure I could keep it up the way I would like to, and also because I was not sure of how I could keep the content limited to professional topics when contacts can freely add unrelated messages. I have a great deal to learn!
    Thank you!

  • Andy Rose says:

    Thank you for your informative article.

    I immediately went to my Klout account and authorized it to connect with several cites I had previously neglected.

    Also agree with the request for how to create a marketing plan.

  • Carl Palmer says:

    Along with what you want seen is what you don’t want seen. What you say will be held against you. Digital footprints last forever. “Don’t mess around with Mr. In-Between”

  • Kelly Pierce says:

    An informative (if terrifying) article. It’s only terrifying because while I’m trying to build my platform (I’ve got a blog and Twitter), I find that I run into another far more serious problem. It seems that when my name is Google’d, the first hit is always a porn star. Does anyone have any advice as to how I get around that rather large, and potentially career ending, hiccup?

    • Oh no, Kelly — that’s not good at all! Have you thought about using an initial to differentiate yourself? Maybe other commenters have ideas…

    • Kiki says:

      Perhaps you can use that somehow in a poking fun manner, a porn twist, to differentiate yourself while getting associated attention? Somehow you have to get more traffic to beat her ranking.

  • lori gregory says:

    thanks for the advice. i never considered that agents would rely on GOOGLE to that degree. and i have again been encouraged to start and develop an online presence. wow. this is exciting.

  • Great common sense advice for everyone in reality; especially those that want to get noticed on the Internet. As a writer, blogger, or professional of any sort, it’s important to remember your reputation precedes you. I feel confident that as long as one remains true to themselves, their qualities will be apparent to all that seek them out. Here’s to shining bright!

  • Austine Decker says:

    This is really helpful for someone like me, an aspiring author in the early stages. Better to start building a good internet presence now. It’s nice to hear that the agents do their research too as it means both sides are putting in the effort to find a good fit.

  • Tarah Flicek says:

    Great article! Thank you for posting.

  • Sophia Sasson says:

    Great post. Good reminders.

  • Kathy Marker says:

    Articles like this are just what I need, since I just completed an online course a few weeks ago. I had no idea that people would Google my name to find out more about me; but it makes sense! I was advised, by another business I was involved with a few years ago, to build a site that would benefit others and that would help build your credibility and visibility. So I began the website of positive thoughts and motivation, and have added Facebook posts that I like. I guess I need to build up the viewers more. I decided that I need to learn how to Twitter, and use it, so I am working on that now. This old dog will learn new tricks, thanks to people like you! Thanks.

    • Scarlett J Davenport says:

      I’m in the same boat. I created a Twitter account a few days ago. (@scarlettjdaven) I’m trying to build a good platform before I contact an agent for my debut novel. I wish you the best of luck with Twitter!

  • Good to know all that work online isn’t for nothing. 🙂

  • anon says:

    What about people who have to hide their real name online because an estranged family member could stalk and harass them otherwise?
    I have a ‘secret identity’ I use for Twitter and so on and will adopt a Pen Name if ever signed by anyone. However, I’ve heard it’s not ‘Kosher’ to query under a fake name. Should I put my twitter handle under my name in the query letter, or my facebook alias?

    • That’s a tough one, anon! You might want to get in touch with Chuck directly through his blog at http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents.

      TWL Assistant Editor

      • anonimousse says:

        Useful article, thanks!
        Like a few others, though, am disappointed that zero web presence can be a minus.
        Surely there exist many talented and deep writers who choose not to have a web presence, and I’d be very interested in knowing what other actions such writers can take to make up for lack of/distaste for web presence. After all, isn’t it all about the writing, the writing, the writing?

        • I’m not sure whether a new author would be able to manage without any web presence, but it’s something we’ll add to our list to explore!

          TWL Assistant Editor

          • J.S.Johnson says:

            im not sure that an unpublished or self-published author trying to gain exposure has the luxury of avoiding social media and the Internet at large. It’s the single largest repository of information and ergo exposure available to the modern entrepreneur. There are certainly many edges to this, but I think it’s a necessary engine.

          • We’re going to address this question in an upcoming post — stay tuned!

  • Wow, very well written and a great resource. I plan on sharing this information with others. Thank you.

  • Regina says:

    Thank you for this encouraging info. I’m reluctant to get involve with social media because of negative backlash. However, I want to be a successful writer long term. I guess I’ll have to step out of my comfort zone and build a brand for myself.

    I did create a blog for my book several months ago. I have followers, but it’s difficult to get them to post comments. I’ll work it on this some more once I complete my novel. I really enjoyed reading what agents do before offering to work with someone. Can’t say I blame them. Everyone should be more careful these days. Thanks again.

  • Ray Dean says:

    I’ve been working on my website and online content for awhile now… I’ve taken the idea of a platform seriously, but I’d love to read the book and make sure I’m in the right direction!

  • Justin says:

    It seems academic – why wouldn’t agents use the most powerful source of information available (the Internet)? But it was sobering to think about the negative effect of a lack of information.

    Maybe those promotions and blog posts aren’t just wasting time after all. You never know who one of those “followers” might be.

  • I really like your article. I think this is important for a writer who just completed their book, what they need to do before looking for an agent. The information provided would give a writer a glimpse what they need to do, like being active on the internet so agents would know more about them.

  • Donna McDine says:

    This does not come as a shock to me at all. With all the research we have at our fingertips we must use it to our advantage. I do appreciate the agents saying why they use Google to search a perspective client, it’s always important to get their viewpoint from the shoes the agent is walking in. Thanks!

  • Great article Chuck, thank you for the information!

    ~ Olivia J Herrell

  • Briana says:

    This is very interesting. It makes sense to me that agents would look at web and social media presence for nonfiction proposals, but I’m wondering if those things (especially follower numbers) hold the same weight for fiction. I’m also somewhat surprised that there are so many passes on prospective authors who aren’t online. I know many people–not all aspiring authors!–who aren’t on social media, and not for nefarious reasons or because they’re unfamiliar with or even “against” social media. I think many people would be willing to use it professionally who don’t see a need to use it personally.

  • VictoriaRose says:

    Interesting that they’ll pass if they can find zip. Some people don’t want the personal exposure and would rather use a pen name and thus would not use their own media anyway to promote their work. Also there are some professions where it is strongly discouraged to have an online presence (teacher, police, etc) that is very public.

    I suppose creating a blog / twitter / other social media under the false name and directing the agent to those may be wise – but would the fact that your OWN name has nothing out there still have a negative impact?

  • Stacy Fileccia says:

    This sort of screening makes a lot of sense. If you expect an agent to invest time and effort in your work, the least you can do as an author is to present yourself professionally wherever you can be noticed.

  • Scarlett J Davenport says:

    I really need this book! My Google relationship could definitely use improvement. This book offers priceless advice! If I don’t get chosen for the giveaway, I will still buy it!
    Thank you for the chance!
    -Scarlett J Davenport

  • ranndino says:

    This all makes very good sense and I’m actually rather surprised that someone needs to be told that in 2015. One thing, however, that strikes me a bit strange is agents looking to see if there’s anything “potentially controversial” online connected to the author. I’m of the opinion that if there isn’t anything controversial or even potentially controversial this is most likely not much of a writer. Intellectuals who can write are by definition controversial. They like to challenge people’s established views about the world.

  • Jeannie Chambers says:

    Thank You so much for this valued article. It make perfect sense for agents to google. I’d just thought about it before now; I’m not sure why, because I look them up too. The Internet is like a glass house with very thin sheers.

  • It’s interesting that a writer now needs to have an online presence. As a start-up novelist, this is something I haven’t really considered. Alongside nurturing my manuscript to completion, I now know that I need to ensure my personality and perspective are present through my blog, and Twitter. It’s definitely worthwhile. Thanks for the heads up!

  • another useful post. thanks chuck.

  • I hope they do check! I make sure I have lots of information on my links to let them know I am not one dimensional. Thanks for this post, Chuck! I always suspected they snooped!

  • I am writing my first novel, however, I am a recording artist with a strong website, YouTube videos. I also have an extensive page of quotes with graphics on my website. I would think that would count for something. Davidaldermanmusic.com

  • Hi,

    My second novel, genre historical fiction, is ready for submission and publication. I am looking for a literary agent. Would you give me some advice or could you recommend me some agent (s)? I appreciate your help.

    The first novel is entitled “Miserere Nobis (have mercy on us”), published in 2011.

    I look forward to your reply.

    Kindest regards,

    Claude Pierre-Jerome
    email: claudepierrejerome7@gmail.com
    Tel: (+1) 404-362.7113

  • Shei Jini says:

    Hello ,
    I appreciae your work very much and I need your help. I have written books and articles for years, many of which are well appreciated but it ends in my laptop.

    My mind is crowded with so much information on how to rise above the waters in this field of writing. But right now, I need direct help. I believe it is possilbe and it is you I need.

    To be a marketer and a writer at the same time is not given to everyone. Help me.


    on the web as to getting

  • Linda Koch says:

    Good information to know. Thanks Chuck.

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