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The worst advice I ever received.

When I first entered the “author” category, I self-published several books. With multiple books under my belt, I decided that I wanted to try traditional publishing. I immersed myself in the industry. I read all the books, went to conferences, and eventually hired someone to help me write an amazing book proposal and query letter.

And then, unbelievably…I had the opportunity to pitch a literary agent in person. I was thrilled. I had a proposal I was proud of, and I had numbers from previously published books to back me up.

I got to the meeting, shared my rehearsed pitch with the agent, and handed her my book proposal to skim through.

Her first question: “How many social media followers do you have?”

I couldn’t hide my enthusiasm. “Around 2,000!” (Thinking that was soooo good!)

She quickly responded, “You don’t have at least 100K followers on Instagram. Why are you wasting my time with this pitch?”


I held back tears and thanked her for her time. (Or at least I hope I did. In that moment, all I wanted to do was melt into the chair and become invisible. Better yet? Go back in time and pretend this had never happened. I wanted out of there as fast as possible.)

I left that meeting with all the racing thoughts: Should I just quit now? If she thinks this, I’m sure everyone else will, too. Maybe I should put this aside for now and work on building my social media numbers.

But here’s the thing: I believed in this book, and I felt confident in the platform I had created. Sure, it wasn’t 100K Instagram deep. But it included an engaged mailing list, incredible speaking engagements, media appearances, and creative partnerships. Couldn’t that be enough? I thought.

I decided to keep going. I pitched some more agents, and several rejections later, I had 5 offers of representation. That book didn’t just get bought by Macmillan, a Top 5 publisher. It also has since been translated twice and has been a super successful project I’m beyond proud of.

It’s the project that actually made me want to be a literary agent because I now saw publishing from all angles: self-publishing, indie publishing, and traditional publishing.

With everything I now know, I can’t help but wonder: What if I’d listened to that one agent’s advice? What if I’d stopped pitching altogether?

I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing today.

And that’s why I encourage everyone to explore all the options available to them. There are so many paths to publication and to success! There is always one person who will get you for who you are.

Sure, everyone has different ideas, but this is one I — an author and a literary agent — want you to understand: While social media numbers can definitely help you land a deal, they’re just a fraction of an author’s platform.

You are so much more than simply a platform.


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