Ask a Mermaid: What Do Editors & Agents Want in an Author’s Online Persona?

Ask a Mermaid is a monthly advice column for writers. If we don’t have the answers, we’ll find them for you. Send in your questions to Ask a Mermaid.

Dear Mermaids,I’m an unpublished author and am overwhelmed with the blog, Twitter, Facebeook, Pinterest, website things that everyone says I need to have. What are editors, agents and publishers really looking for when they say to develop my online persona?

Thanks for the help,
Treading Water

Great question Treading! Our short answer would be an engaging persona that fits with the type of books you write but doesn’t talk only about the books you write. 🙂 For a more complete answer to your question we pulled agent Sara Megibow with the Nelson Agency and designer Tara Green, the creative director for Eye on Romance, into the lagoon for a little chat. 



Your follower here asks a good question that unfortunately warrants a verrrry long answer. I’ll try to give a short two cents, but the honest truth is that my response will be different from another agents and from another publicist and from another author. Each author’s career is different and what works for one author won’t work for another.

1. Only do social media that you enjoy. If you enjoy blogging and not twitter, then blog and don’t tweet. Followers will smell it a mile away and these thing stake up too much time to not do them.

2. Be authentic. If you want to write about writing, do so. If you want to write about beer, that’s fine. Don’t moan and complain, but other than that – go for it.

3. The writing MUST come first. So, stop blogging and posting on Facebook as much and make sure your writing time takes priority.

4. I don’t personally look at platform when authors submit a query letter. I used to, but I’ve found it’s irrelevant to my ability to sell a book. So, don’t start a bunch of social media just to get an agent (again – some agents will have a different opinion on this – this is just. my. opinion).

5. ind authors, agents and editors you enjoy following and read what they post (on blogs, on twitter, on Facebook) and hopefully that will provide some nice networking and inspiration for how to communicate with followers.

6. You don’t have to network only within your genre. Write romance? Great – feel free to learn from the horror authors, literary authors, sf authors – anyone and everyone who is out there connecting to readers = go for it.Hope that helps!SaraFind Sara on twitter at @SaraMegibow, Facebook at Facebook/ SaraMegibowNelsonAgency and on Romance University.


An online persona is the voice you present to your readers. Many authors choose to be quite personal with their readers, sharing day to day events, personal pictures, and thoughts and feelings reading current events. Other authors choose to use online mediums to only share news about their latest books and author news and tour events. Whatever you decide to present to your readers as an author, choose the level of comfort when sharing and decide how often you will post to your online media. Publishers are impressed with reader counts and developing a community – this in turn gives you an audience to self-promote your own books.

Good luck!


Find Tara at Eye On Romance and Author Web Designs By Tara.

Ask a Mermaid is a monthly advice column for writers. If we don’t have the answers, we’ll find them for you. Send in your questions to Ask a Mermaid.

About Avery Flynn

Writer. Smart Ass. Lover of Chocolate. Bringing steamy romance with a twist of mystery to the masses, one hot book at a time.

23 thoughts on “Ask a Mermaid: What Do Editors & Agents Want in an Author’s Online Persona?

  1. Amazing advice, as usual! I especially love “do the social media you enjoy”. If you hate Facebook, for example (not me, as my followers can attest, lol), then posting is going to seem like an arduous chore rather than a fun interaction with future readers and fans. I try to time myself on most days to keep things disciplined, too. Too much social media can be both overwhelming and wear your followers down too.

    Awesome post!

    1. What? You like Facebook, nah. 🙂 And you’re right about the tons of posts. I love Twitter, Facebook and blogging, but there are some days when I’m smoking busy and end up chucking all social media for a few days.

  2. I’m listening to “Buy This Book!” a workshop from the 2011 RWA conference. In it, authors pitch their work to editorial boards; the purpose–to give the author a sense of what an editorial board is looking for apart from the actual book. One question that comes up over and over is, “What kind of social media platform does this author have?” So, I’m thinking that it’s important to have a platform, but totally agree with Sara and Tara–it has to be real and comfortable.

  3. Great question and great answers! Thanks, ladies! I really like the idea of only doing what I enjoy. Often it’s easy to fall into the “well, she is on Facebook, I should be on Facebook” trap.

  4. Excellent post, ladies. Treading, you are not alone! Thank you especially for asking the question. Sara’s #2 answer made me feel better about most of my posts here in the pond! Treading, don’t be afraid to “spin” your interests into your writing related posts. Like talking about cute boys? Turn that into a continuing “male perspective piece” aimed at spotlighting different hero types. And it’s so true what Tara said about deciding what and how much you will share. My favorite author has an extremely professional website flavored with her personal tidbits. Good luck!

  5. My best social media outlet so far has been Goodreads. I’ve reached more readers there through my giveaway promotion of The Promise than I have anywhere else. There’s no cost to participate, other than the value of the merchandise you’re giving away. Of the 800 people who have signed up so far, 300 have added me to their TBR shelves. I don’t know how many (if any) will ultimately buy my book, but I’d recommend other authors try it. It brought me to the notice of hundreds of readers who probably wouldn’t have looked otherwise.

  6. Thanks to Sara and Tara for stopping by the pond. Very informative answers. I thought Sara’s #4 answer was particularly interesting (regarding how she’s found social platform to be irrelevant in selling a book.)

  7. Thank you for submitting a wonderful question full of relevance to all of us Treading. And a big thank you to Sara and Tara for those wonderful answers. I now feel better about not Tweeting! ;-D

  8. Great post and comments, everyone. I need to get on Goodreads as an Author…another thing on my Marketing TBD list.

    One other piece of advice – if you use a pen name, always use it to comment on blogs, etc. to get it out into the world. You never know who will notice it.

  9. I too loved this question…and comments. It becomes overwhelming when you end up fighting through hours of loops, blogs, Tweets and Facebook posts when it could be more productive…for me at least. I’ve had to narrow my days down on my media outlets. There are only so many hours in a day and I would rather put them to writing.

    If I need to know something, send me an email. Still, it’s good to know I should pick something I enjoy and cut out all the others.

    Great question, Treading and thank you Sara and Tara for letting us sigh in relief a bit. 🙂

    1. I must confess I’m not great about loops, but do much better connecting with folks on FB and Twitter. I think it all goes back to the do what you enjoy and are comfortable with.

  10. I have never gotten the hang of twitter. I adore facebook, I’ve blogged three times. The problem there is I have no idea what to blog about. All three times it was about writing. Tonight I’ve stayed off line to write. Not a lot of words but I’m trying.

Comments are closed.