Thursday, September 10, 2009

LiLa's Guide To Cyberstalking

Cyberstalking is a hereditary skill in the Roecker family. Our mother, "The Regulator" Roecker, has been cyberstalking before Al Gore even invented the internet. Whether you want to know how much your frienemy paid for their beach house or you're interested in finding the best deal on flights to Vegas, The Regulator is your gal. Conversations with her typically go something like this:

LiLa: Hey Mom, I just found this adorable sweater at J.Crew. It's on sale and it's got these adorable ruffles.
Regulator: *typing*
LiLa: I'm thinking of buying one to wear with that navy dress.
Regulator: Do you mean the merino ethereal ruffle cardigan? I hope not because it's ridiculous to spend $88 on a sweater, not to mention the fact that those ruffles would probably add 10 pounds. But if you insist on making the purchase, at least go with the ruffle pink. By the way, did you see that Southwest is having a sale on flights to Vegas?
LiLa: *click*

But here's the thing, cyberstalking is actually a really useful skill for an aspiring writer. It pays to know all about the agents and editors who are going to be reading and potentially acquiring your work. So, for those of you who weren't blessed with a hacker for a mother, here are some tips:

1. Get creative with Google
OK, anyone can just google an agent or editor's name and come up with some relevant hits, but you'll find some more obscure and potentially more interesting information by doing a google blog search as well. Also try googling the person's name with NYC attached (or whatever their location might be), this may pull up Twitter accounts that have been set up under aliases. Or google just their first name and the agency/publisher name. Don't be afraid to try random combinations and check out this amazing two-part post on the QueryTracker blog for great tips on how to be google ninja.

2. Use writer's forums to your advantage
Writers are a catty, gossipy bunch and there are a number of websites like, Absolute Write and VerlaKay with message boards that can give you the low down on agents, editors, response times and success stories. Most of these boards have search functionalities embedded within them so you can easily find information on your victim. Also, make sure you check out all the comments writer's have left under specific agents on Lots of interesting tidbits of information there.

3. Play the Kevin Bacon game
You know, that game where everyone in the world is like 7 people away from knowing Kevin Bacon? Same goes for publishing professionals. If you know of one editor/agent who's on Twitter, check out the people who they're following. Guarantee you'll find other editors, agents and writers that they like and respect. Likewise for Blogger profiles and Facebook.

4. Put yourself out there
Don't be afraid to participate and network a little. Granted, there are some lines you shouldn't cross (many agents/editors reserve Facebook for personal, not professional use), but following an agent or editor via Twitter is typically a great way to learn more about them and potentially even interact. Weekly events like #kidlitchat at 9PM EST every Tuesday on Twitter and AgentQuery/VerlaKay chats are a great way to not only learn more about publishing and that dream agent/editor you're currently stalking, but also to meet and interact with other writers.

OK, so that's cyberstalking 101. Happy and feel free to leave your own tips and tricks in the comments.


Little Ms J said...

And why haven't you looked into the cheap flights to Vegas? You should listen to your mother.

Realm Lovejoy said...

Funny! My mom found cheapest flights to Vegas via Southwest and sent me info--haha! Mothers are good at that.

Jeannie Lin said...

Vegas....Sorry, distracted!

I've heard of requests through conversations on Twitter, so it's definitely a great networking option. Although, I'm sure agents editors also love to chit-chat and just be out there without getting pitched to as well. That always makes me scared to seem to stalkerish. :)

"The Regulator" aka Mom said...

Well, at least I've taught you well - Google blog search - hmm, I didn't know about that one...

And, I like the way you think, Little Ms J. Vegas has been calling me since our last girls' trip for Lisa's 30th didn't exactly go as planned!

Suzanne said...

I just got into an argument with my husband about why we CAN'T go to Vegas. I feel a NEED to go, and he just doesn't get it. Sheesh.

Question: so, say you were working with an agent, a great one, and though she passed on your book... she adored your writing and was interested in seeing book 2 (if one ever was to finish the revisions on it) and the emails back and forth were delightful. Would you friend them on facebook? Hmmmmmmmm. Not that I would EVER do anything like that. ;)

storyqueen said...

"The Regulator"! I love it!

(But I have to say, I still can't get behind the whole Twitter thing.....maybe it's the name....)


Katie said...

I'm thinking I want to join the Lila Google Ninja Forum :-)

And afterwards, drinks in Vegas with Ms. J!

This was a seriously informative post my dear Birds. Thank you so much. Must bookmark it NOW!

PS. The Regulator should have her own blog. I'm thinking she might be as hysterical as her darling chicks.

Joanna said...

Ack...omigosh. Should I be scared??

Loretta Nyhan said...

OK, I thought I was pretty good at this but, oh, my...

I think your next novel should be a spy thriller!

Rebecca Knight said...

Ooh! Great google tips :). I'll have to check those out. Mwahahaha!

ElanaJ said...

This is an awesome, awesome list. I LOVE the *researcher* label of your mom. You guys must have soo much fun.

Sarah said...

This is some great advice. Lately, I've been getting paranoid, thinking that somehow the people I cyberstalk will find out about my activities and file a restraining order.
So my question for you guys: is this an unfounded fear? Have you ever been called out on your c-stalking?

JennyMac said...

Thanks for sharing the wisdom. And my Mom is quite excellent at that game too. They should open a business for all of the other people who say things like "how am I supposed to know what date Thanksgiving is" which I actually heard last week.

Ryan said...

So I avoided facebook and myspace forever and I am doing the same thing with twitter. I don't want another social networking sight. And, with the way I update my blog and fb, could you imagine how many people would figure I died with infrequent twitter updates.

Lisa and Laura said...

LMJ - I know! We'll definitely plan a trip soon...just be careful what you wish for.

Realm - It must be the mom gene!

Jeannie - Totally agree! The key is knowing where to draw the line. Use common sense people!

Regulator - You NEED your own blog. Just imagine the possibilities...when we screen your calls you'd be able to lecture us via blog post. And we could comment our response. It's all very 2009, right?

Suzanne - Totally go for the friend request! Can't hurt right? And we all need a little Vegas in our lives, right?

Shelley - I see your issue with Twitter, but it's really not so bad...come on over the darkside. We have Twizzlers.

Katie - You are a genius. Vegas and a blog for the Regulator? We're so in.

Jo - Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Loretta - We'd suck as spies. We giggle too much.

Rebecca - May the force be with you.

EJ - We have WAY too much fun. We need to get a life.

Sarah - So far our stalking has gone unnoticed, at least to our knowledge. We'll keep you posted if anything changes.

Jenny - Our moms would make some serious bank. I'm adding this to my idea book.

Ryan - Repeat after me: Embrace the time suck that is social networking. It's fun...sometimes.

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