by Erin Mitchell
I read an article a couple of weeks ago that discussed online venues that are “crucial” for authors. It covered the usual suspects—website, Facebook, Twitter—and…LinkedIn.
I should mention right up front that the article I read was not written by an American. For whatever reason, LinkedIn has a much better reputation outside the U.S. People take it more seriously as a viable venue for professionals to discuss matters of import.
Over here, though, it remains primarily for young people seeking jobs and misguided individuals sending spam.
As you might have guessed, I don’t see LinkedIn as a venue for authors, crucial or otherwise. (I’m talking about fiction. For nonfiction, it might be helpful, depending on the topic.)
If you already have a LinkedIn account, there’s no need to rush out and delete it. In fact, I recommend leaving it alone; deleting a LinkedIn account rates on a scale of difficulty right up with hacking into a bank. Which is hard.
LinkedIn has tried to reinvent itself more times than I can count, most recently as a sort of grown-up Facebook, where instead of wishing people happy birthday, you congratulate them on work anniversaries, promotions, or new jobs. You can also “endorse” specific skills people say they have.
But ultimately, LinkedIn is what it has always been: a way for people to look for new employment and contact people they don’t know but have some (often tenuous) connection to.
If you’re an author looking to contact people with expertise in a specific, narrow area, LinkedIn would have been your best bet once upon a time. Now, you’re better off with Google. (Again, unless that person is outside the U.S., in which case LinkedIn could be helpful. Maybe.)
If you’re looking for an agent or publisher, LinkedIn is of no use to you whatsoever. Anyone you contact through there won’t want to be contacted that way. Trust me.
And if, having read all of this, you are still compelled to sign up for LinkedIn, please, for the love of whatever you believe in, do not pay them money. Their cheapest “premium” subscription is $287.88 per year. If you have that much money to throw around, please give it to your favorite charity.
LinkedIn was a good idea when it started, but it has become utterly stagnant. Maybe they’ll reinvent themselves next week and become something useful for the book world. Stranger things have happened. If that does, I’ll be sure to let you know.