Going Old School – Don’t Do It When Querying

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I am a fan of all things history and pop culture.  Anyone who enters my private world will notice a hodgepodge of things that aren’t necessarily high-tech and “old-school.”  Between the retired Fire Emergency Phone Booth, older books, a 90-yr. desk, a 50 yr-old reading chair, and the typewriter key jewelry, there will always be a part of me who appreciates the “old ways.”

This however does NOT apply in regard to my agency life.  Yes, I represent books about quirky, sometimes older “things,” but the industry in which I work requires a minimal knowledge of computers, the newest book formats, and a cell phone (& more).  Between going to meetings, doing computer work, answering emails, and travelling, electronic gadgets are absolutely necessary – even my iPod, since it provides numerous & informative podcasts, as well as music to keep the day moving along steadily.

Here’s my kind, gentle nudge to remember to put aside the “old school” practices during the query process.  Not only will it be friendlier, but it will increase one’s chances of getting published.

1. Always have an email address.  Also, make sure you also take the time to READ the email on a regular basis.  Keep the user name professional, and avoid using a user name that would deter from the seriousness of one’s writing career. 

2. Don’t use a typewriter.  I remember the days of using the old-school typewriter to type book reports, eventually getting an electronic Smith-Corona in highschool.  It was a fantastic experience that made me a better typist, as well as a fan of the typewriter key jewelry I now wear daily.   Yet, when looking at printed/mailed queries, the presentation of a typewritten query is not the most professional.   If typewriters were the only way for us to communicate, this wouldn’t matter.  However, we do live in 2010, and computers provide the opportunity for a spellcheck, a nice layout to one’s documents, and the opportunity to present queries in print OR electronically.    The more professional the presentation, along with the more professional book proposal, will make a good impression.

3. Use Online Social Networks.  Twitter, Facebook, & Linked-In (& more) can be your friends – use them in promoting one’s image as a writer AND one’s writing. 

4. Always have a website.  This can be an official website, a blog, or a fanbook page (on a social network), it’ll further expand one’s writing platform.

5. Learn to the tools of electronic trade.  Taking the time to learn how to make podcasts, short videos, interactive webpages, and other marketing “tricks” will win over new readers – increasing one’s odds of getting published and/or furthering one’s ability to be RE-published.

Like anyone else, I see no issues with avoiding some aspects of the overly electronic society of today.  Yet, publishers need to see this type of tech-savvyness on a writer’s part-especially when when considering potential book sales #s.  The more tech-savvy a writer = the better chances of inking the ever-elusive book deal. 

And yes, please keep your typewriter, they are still quite stunning to look at and use in other ways.  🙂