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In the beginning, there was a girl, and the girl was me, and the girl had a million publishing questions and no contacts. It was frustrating. I would google things like “How to get a book deal” or “How to break into publishing,” and it didn’t get me very far. I also didn’t really understand agents. I knew I needed one, but I wasn’t sure at what point I should try to get one. I knew that technically a literary agent, when they signed you, became a mentor among many other things, and honestly—I really just needed and wanted a mentor. There just aren’t enough people out there mentoring other writers. I had several children’s manuscripts sitting in a drawer that my mom had read and said were good. Ahem. I know. Ask your momma, but just don’t only ask your momma.

So I started praying.

“Lord please send me a mentor.”

“Lord please send me an agent if an agent could also be my mentor.”

“Lord please send me someone to answer my questions.”

“Lord I have five more questions than I did last week. They are stacking up.”

“Help??!?!?!?”

I was 27 years old and had never met an author in person. I kept googling and researching, and one day, in a completely accidental conversation, I learned about Karen. (Did you know that Karen has an awesome new book coming soon called Words That Change Everything? You need to bookmark this one—Spring 2016 release.) So, I messaged Karen on Facebook and politely asked if she could just answer a few questions about publishing for me. I really believe that if Karen wouldn’t have talked to me, I might not be in publishing today. But, she did talk to me—and she gave me two pieces of advice, one that we will tackle today and the other tomorrow.

She told me to start a blog. 

So, how does that relate to publishing or snagging an agent? Your blog is the place that publishing professionals, like me, will come to learn about you. We learn so much when we come to your Internet home. We read that your hubby’s nickname is The Coach, and that you love gluten-free cupcakes, and that your feet are still growing—at 34. And they are already a size 12. And that you are panicked, because if they get any bigger, you may have to beg Oprah to do a special shoe surprise for you on her network. We get to sample your life—your writing voice, your reasons for writing, your future plans, your book ideas, and can quickly evaluate your platform. In the last few years, I have not signed any writers that did not have a blog. So, if you are someone that has felt the tug to write a book, you need to first, start a blog. Oftentimes, I scour contest lists and the subsequent winners, looking for talented writers. The first thing I do is google the list of winners to try and find their blog—if they don’t have a blog that surfaces, I just skip over their name and find someone else. When you have a blog, it tells publishing professionals that you are serious about this whole writing thing.

Once you have started a blog, you need to write on it frequently.

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This has been a huge challenge for me and I’ve done great in the consistency department, as well as failed miserably at it. When my triplets were toddlers, writing was actually easier for me then it is now. I would put them to bed, okay I would try to put them all to bed, and then I’d sit down and I’d blog. It was my time. It was fun. And it was how I found my voice. And if it makes you feel any better—I was so awful back then. Had no clue. But practice, yes! makes perfect. As an agent, I do blog critiques for bloggers year round and the number one issue with most of them is that the writer is simply not writing enough. Their site is pretty. Their brand is compelling. But, they aren’t home much. So, how much should you write on your blog? My advice is at least twice a week. Some people write daily. Some bloggers write 3 times a week. The type of content you write might play a role in what this final number becomes for you.

A quick story before we go about consistency & tending your online home. My husband and I love to take little trips across Texas to different small towns. I love to stay at bed and breakfasts and this is our thing. So, we went the tiny town of Fredericksburg, Texas and I was so excited to stay at this particular bed and breakfast. I had been online, clicked through all the pretty rooms. Drooled over the photos of the breakfast that I would get to eat. It was fabulous. We were supposed to go pick up a key at a local shop in order to get into our room. I thought that was a little odd, but apparently that is a common thing now. So, we make our way to this cute little house with a white picket fence and there is a …wait for it…lock on the door. And so we use our key and we walk into a dark, vacant house. (Experience my distress and crying here). And so…we lowered our voices, tip-toed on the creaking floor all the way back to the back room, and used our code to get into our bedroom. It was creepy. It was not cool. It felt so wrong. Where was the hostess with the platter of gluten-free cookies and homemade mint lemonade? Where were the other guests that would entertain us over breakfast about their world travels and their dogs named Spot and Tilly? They weren’t there.

Worst. Bed & Breakfast. Ever.

All that to say, please be present at your online home. If you need to take a break, tell your followers when you will be back. Be the lady with the cookies & mint lemonade to your audience. Love them with your words and write to them frequently. And if that all sounds awesome, it can be. It will be. First, you’ve got to start a blog. Second, you’ve got to write on it, and write on it frequently.

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This series is part of the #Write31Days challenge. To read all the posts in this series click here.

 

 

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