Monday, May 6, 2013

Do You Follow?

Post by Jenny

Count me among the hundreds of bloggers who had a blast last month touring through the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. It was so much fun to pop in on blogs I otherwise would not have discovered. Whenever I landed on a new home page, I’d try to find out a little about the host, and then I’d see how many folks were following. I found, as you may have also, that the number of followers didn’t necessarily correlate with the quality of the content. Every great blog has to start somewhere.

So I’ve had following on my mind, especially where it pertains to writing. Even if we haven’t published so much as a fortune in a cookie, writers are encouraged to build our platforms. This makes us very focused on the myriad of ‘following’ options provided by social media. (Anyone else remember that old Genesis song? I will follow you, will you follow me…)

But as you are basking in the warm glow of social media love, please do not forget about three of the most important follows for writers:

Follow instructions. This is not tricky. If you’re submitting a query to a literary agent, for example, and that agent does not wish to receive email attachments, midnight FedEx deliveries, or mite-infested carrier pigeons, please comply. If you’re a free spirit who can’t be constrained by rules and such, prepare to have your query go straight to the trash can/folder/vortex, do not pass go, do not collect $200.

Follow through. I hear this is important in golf, but golf is ridiculous and I’m horrible at it. Let’s stick to writing. You’ve queried or pitched to an agent. The agent likes what you have to say and asks to see more. But you never send it. (Believe it or not, I heard straight from an agent’s mouth that this actually happens.) Maybe you’re busy with your show ponies. Maybe you’re frozen in the Mortal Fear of Failure, which is like tetanus except there’s no shot for it. We all have lives and insecurities that get in the way. But if the ball is in your court, don’t put a pointy hat and a belt on it and call it a garden gnome. (And now you know why I'm not writing fortune cookies.)

Follow up. This one trips me up more often than not, but it shouldn’t. If a reply is either promised or strongly implied and is past-due, it’s perfectly okay to send a polite reminder. Communication is a two-way street, and there’s a lot of traffic.

As a writer, what are your most important follows?


Lisa Vella said...

Follow through! This should definitely be my mantra - without follow through, there is no follow up! Great post and clever writing, Jenny! Thanks!

John Paul McKinney said...

I think follow up is important. I think sometimes we;re afraid to pester people. Thanks, Jenny.

Dean K Miller said...

I have to follow my heart. It leads me to the places where I can then put your three "follows" into action.

Often times it leads to chaos, others dead ends, but in following my choices I arrive fresh, ready, enthusiastic...and usually rejected!

But every once in a while things work. Just yesterday I followed up with a publication (by following the advice of a writer friend) and ended up with a postive result.

It's odd, for at times I must follow, but it works best when no one is in front of me.

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