Daily Archives: July 12, 2010

Shopping for Agents Online

I’ve been purchasing a few needed items for my preschool.  In the process, I discovered the beauty of online shopping.  I know, everyone else has been doing it for years.  But I’m always a little late to the technological game.  Anyway…

Price check on website three, please.

It’s super easy to shop around for a great deal.  When DH and I purchased patio furniture three summers ago, we drove to seven different stores to compare product and price.  Gas+time=frustration.  Times SEVEN.

E-pinions and product reviews are dandy.  I love getting this feedback from other consumers.  Short of asking everyone in the store if they have bought a Tiny Tot Tinker Trike and what they think about it, I have no way of knowing how good the Tinker Trike might be.  Enter online reviews and you know instantly that seven out of ten people hated the Tinker Trike.  In which case, I would buy the five-star TuffStuff Trike-o-rama

The experience is instantly gratifying.  I like.  I click.  I pay.  Then I move on to the next item on my list.  Like painting.  If I were on the road, chasing down good deals, I wouldn’t be painting the inside of kitchen cupboards and sewing puppet theater curtains.  I would be wasting time and gas and gaining a new level of frustration.

Online shopping is easy–for playground equipment and agents.

While I have only really entered the online age about two years ago, I have learned a few things along the way. 

What did I learn?

  1. The internet is a great place to do comparison shopping.  By the time books on the writing biz come out, they are outdated.  Agents and editors have swapped companies, started their own business or dropped out of the game altogether.  Relying solely on printed info is a bit like traveling to seven different stores and can keep you one step behind the competition.  Websites and blogs are amazing places to glean info about your potential victims and their tastes. 
  2.  Be sure to check out the epinions of your future agent or editor.  This can safeguard you from inadvertently purchasing the Tinker Trike instead of the Trik-o-rama.  Preditors and Editors is a great resource, as are blogs and articles found during an engine search.  It’s a bit voyeuristic, but if done well, it can help you pinpoint agents and editors with similar literary tastes, ethics and personalities.
  3. Online querying is more instant than microwave oatmeal.  We write.  We click send.  I could no longer use the excuse of not having stamps or the fact that our post office was never open when I was ready.  Write and click.  This method forces us to find new excuses for our procrastination habit while freeing up oodles of time to actually write and edit our manuscripts.  Double bonus.

In a nutshell, we write in a time of relative ease.  Free information is at our fingertips and should make targeted queries the rule, rather than the exception.  E-querying is less time-consuming and should allow us more time to hone our craft.  Our quality and quantity of writing should increase. 

But there is a downside to shopping in our jammies with bed head.  The casualness of this process can become so comfortable we forget to put our best foot forward.  And that’s a mistake we can ill-afford to make.

How has online shopping changed your writing life?  Have you ever encountered an agent/editor you loved on paper, only to discover the blogosphere is not as pleased with him/her as you would like?  Do you feel that online information can help target an agent/editor with similar tastes or is the info still too broad to make a better match than a blanket submission approach?