Yesterday, I mentioned the social media difference as one of the things I "learned" at the SCBWI Tokyo Mary Kole event. Today, I'll be telling you why.
I left my hotel way early, since I was totally convinced I would get lost. Of course, I was right. After I'd giving up on going in one direction and turned back to pick another route at the intersection, a taxi drove past. I only saw a blonde head before the taxi stopped. I was pretty sure that this person was going to the same event as me, but I didn't want to stake out the cab, so I toddled along, trying to watch out of the corner of my eye and see which way this person went. Then I saw the Regional Advisor for my SCBWI branch, Holly. She greeted me and the person from the cab, who, it turned out, was Mary Kole. Then she introduced us.
And Ms Kole said, "Oh, Claire from Twitter!"
I'm pretty sure my jaw hit the sidewalk. Then bounced down the hill. Then splashed off the pier. THE Mary Kole knew who I was! Because of Twitter.
Not all of us can afford to go to a conference these days. I'm lucky in that I make a decent salary, and don't have a lot of bills. (And suck at saving and have slightly warped financial priorities.) Once upon a time, a conference would have been the only way to make a connection to write in the "personalisation" section of your query, if you include one.
These days, you can read an agent's blog or follow them on twitter. Many US agents, especially in YA, have some presence in cyberspace. (Unfortunately, it's a lot less common in the UK.) You can read their blogs. You can subscribe to their Twitter feeds. That in and of itself is great. But there's also that slight possibility, that you'll write a blog post that will attract an agent's attention. Or leave a comment on their blog or someone else's that will cement you in their mind. And it's even more likely on Twitter with it's volume restriction and conversational nature.
That's not to say an agent will sign you strictly because they've heard your name before. But we do what we can to stand out. 99.9% of that standing out should really happen in your manuscript. But it can't hurt if a part of the other .1% percent is your awesome social media presence.