Behind the Scenes: “Finding My Agent on Twitter + Social Media Tips” by Margaret Aitken

Ahhh, social media…love it? hate it? Social media elicits a full range of emotions! Here’s Margaret Aitken’s positive approach and how she found her agent on Twitter. Congratulations to Margaret on her debut picture book OLD FRIENDS

Margaret is offering a GIVEAWAY of a picture book critique. If you’d like to enter, just leave a note in the comments below. 

Congratulations to Carmela McCain Simmons – winner of a critique from Megan Hoyt from last week’s post! 

Finding my Agent on Twitter + Social Media TipsHeadshots Margaret Aitken copy

by Margaret Aitken

Like many writers, I have a love/hate relationship with social media.  On the one hand, social media is an evil villain that eats up our day until we realize it’s dark outside, the kids are starving, the dog’s bladder is about to explode, and we haven’t written a single word. 

But on the other hand, social media is a helpful hero who introduces us to fellow writers, provides learning opportunities, and reminds us that although the writing path is tough, we’re not alone. But is the Twitter time-warp worth it? It’s a question I grapple with a lot.

In 2020, I was fortunate enough to connect with my agent through Twitter. Hopefully, by sharing my story and the tips at the end, I can help you consider your own social media use and ensure it doesn’t veer over to the dark side.

So, let’s go back to the care-free days of January 2020. The pandemic hadn’t hit the headlines—in the U.S. at least—and most of us had never heard of a certain crown-shaped virus that was about to change the world.

I had been writing with the goal of publication since January 2019 and was fully immersed in the Kidlit community online. One day, I was scrolling through Twitter when I noticed Brian Gehrlein of Picture Book Spotlight had posted an interview with writer, Kaitlyn Sanchez.

In her interview, Kaitlyn mentioned that she had started an internship at Olswanger Literary Agency. As part of the feature, Kaitlyn was giving away two picture book critiques. Noticing it was the last day to enter the giveaway, I tweeted my entry and got on with my day—which, living in the Northeast of the U.S., inevitably involved snow.

A few days later, I was thrilled to find out I had won a critique from Kaitlyn—hooray! So, I sent off my picture book manuscript about a prim and proper seagull and got back to shoveling the driveway.

To my surprise—and delight—a few days later, Kaitlyn replied to say that she loved my seagull story. She suggested ways to strengthen it and asked me to send her the revision when it was ready. As writers know, getting positive feedback from a publishing insider feels like a kid getting a full-size candy bar at Halloween—it’s huge!

As a new agent, Kaitlyn wasn’t taking on clients at that stage, but she encouraged me to query her when she opened up in the spring.

Old Friends final cover           Over the winter, Kaitlyn and I kept in touch online. Then, In March 2020, as the world was closing down, Kaitlyn emailed me out of the blue and asked if I would like to send her more manuscripts. I had several stories polished and ready, so I chose my strongest five and hit the send button.

My emotions were all over the place as I read the news headlines and waited for Kaitlyn’s response. Then later that day, an email popped into my inbox. Kaitlyn had enjoyed reading my work and asked if I could share my phone number. That evening she called to offer representation, and I excitedly accepted. The world was imploding, and I was officially agented! It was, to quote Mr.Dickens, ‘the best of times, it was the worst of times…’

A few months later, Kaitlyn sold my debut picture book, OLD FRIENDS, to Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan.

So, just like all memorable characters, social media isn’t all good OR all bad. By using it intentionally, social media can bring a sense of community, open opportunities, and even bring some light relief as you take a break from tackling a tricky plot hole.

Here are some tips that have helped me keep my social media use in check:

  1. Turn off ALL notifications

It can be hard to resist finding out who notifications are from, and before you know it, you’ve spent half your afternoon searching for the perfect giraffe gif. This tip has been revolutionary for me. If you can’t stop checking apps, try taking social media off your phone and restricting social media use to your laptop.

  1. Have a social Media routine

Try to only check in at specific times e.g. in the morning, at lunchtime, or in the evening. There is NOTHING on social media that cannot wait for a few hours.

  1. Follow accounts that regularly have contests/giveaways

For example, @PBChat, @PBParty, @KaitlynLeannSanchez.

  1. Engage in a genuine way

The Kidlit community is welcoming and encouraging. Be sure to cheer others on; they will do the same for you.

  1. Be brave and enter!

There are so many amazing Kidlit competitions online. Push your insecurities to the back of your mind and enter. You never know; you might end up meeting your future agent on Twitter like I did.

Don’t forget to leave a comment below if you’d like to enter the giveaway for a picture book critique from Margaret Aitken. (winner announced 7/1/22)

[July 1 follow up to this post: the winner of the PB Critique from Margaret Aitken is Karen Rafeedie. Congrats, Karen!]

42 thoughts on “Behind the Scenes: “Finding My Agent on Twitter + Social Media Tips” by Margaret Aitken

  1. Love this so much! And wow, can you believe it’s been over two years since this happened? Such a beautiful journey, and I’m so happy to be part of it. Thank you, Margaret, for taking a chance on me as a new agent, and thank you, Beth, for helping share this story and great social media advice. Cheers to Old Friends being out next month!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Margaret–Thank you for sharing your journey to getting an agent and for the social media tips! I like tip. #2 about having a social media routine. Congrats on your debut picture book OLD FRIENDS. I look forward to reading it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Happy to! It can be tricky at first, but once you break the habit of constantly checking it is almost a relief! Lots of luck and I hope you enjoy OLD FRIENDS!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for posting. I definitely feel the struggle with social media. Thanks for the tips. Congrats on your new book! Excited to read it 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Patricia, I am sure you are right. I think the process would have been so much slower in the past (if that is possible LOL!) The kidlit community is such a wonderful group. Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Thank you for sharing! This is such an encouragement to me and the tips so useful. I have a terrible habit of exploring social media instead of working on my writing 🙂. Wish you the best!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Just as I faced additional discouragement from the lack of responses to my manuscript submissions, I read your article. I see you looked for representation as you went on with your life. And your social media life as well. I will do the same. Thanks!

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.