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So as I’m seeing the end of the proverbial tunnel on my book writing, I’ve kinda begun my search for a literary agent.  The latest said person of interest is someone named Wendy Keller.  But rather than sending a typical query letter, she requires you pass something of an initial screening via online form.  The only thing she really needs to know about your book idea is its title.  Beyond that she needs only your answers to about 20 questions that help her gauge how big your following is.  After all, the bigger your following, the more your book will likely sell.  Gotta maintain priorities.  And hopefully your title isn’t terrible.

She wants to know your Klout score.  If you haven’t been assessed, you are strongly encouraged to do so.  Klout.com measures your level of social media influence.  On a scale of 1-100, President Obama scores a 99.  It combines 18 different platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia, Foursquare, Tumblr, etc.  Apparently it doesn’t matter how many friends and followers you have, but rather how much your contributions draw a response from others.  How influential are you?  And if those responses come from those with high Klout scores, that raises yours even more.  Anyway, Keller requires a score of at least 60 in order for her to consider your work potentially profitable enough to warrant her representation.

60 on a 100-point scale, really!?  I wondered how pathetically close I even had a chance of approaching that level…  Only two-thirds of Obama’s influence.  Maybe that’s not so hard…

I logged in for assessment Monday night.

I measured a 10.

Ten percent of the President’s influence sounds great.  Seventeen percent of the minimum I need to be a real author, not so wonderful.

I received my automated rejection letter from Keller Media via electronic mail the following day.

But my curiosity was peaked — and I still wanted to become a real author one day — I was curious how much work it would take to boost my score…  Now, I used to maintain a much greater Online Presence back when I was an evangelical pastor and community leader.  Before I was a steakhouse manager and wannabe writer.  But even then, I was never one to solicit friend requests.  I let people come to me.  Wasn’t gonna chase after them.  Just before I left the pastorate I had a modest 500 or 600 Facebook friends.  I also blogged once a week with a decent interaction from my church.  I had tried Twitter when it first came out — back before it exploded as the megalith of 21st century communication — but thought it kind of pointless and deactivated two weeks later.

After I left the pastorate and was preparing to grow more “vocal” about my non-theism, I de-friended just about everyone in the summer of 2013.  Everyone from both churches I had ministered at.  Pretty much everybody from seminary.  Just slimmed it down to 120 of my essential family members and more secularly minded friends.  I just wasn’t sure I was ready to answer the barrage of questions I knew I would receive from all my Christian contacts who would have grown doubtlessly confused by my sudden skepticism.  So I cut ties with everybody and dropped out to process everything and reestablish my life post-faith.  Over the course of the last year I picked up another hundred Facebook friends or so but have kept things intentionally low-key.

And then on Monday I scored a 10.

Back to the question I raised earlier: What can I do to raise this score?  As I said, I’ve never been one to solicit Facebook friends.  By default I’m kinda the type of person who wouldn’t care less.  But then again, if this is what I gotta do to be a real author (haha..), then let’s do this!

First thing I did was go to town on Facebook.  I looked up my old high school and sent invites to every name I recognized.  Since I went to a really conservative college and seminary, there’s a Facebook group of all us “heretics” that for one reason or another don’t quite fall in evangelical formation.  200 of us.  I sent a friend request to every single one of them.  Every.  Single.  One.  Then I went to my old church contacts.  I didn’t send requests to every single person, but those that I thought would be a little more cool and civilized concerning my new theological orientation.  Two days later, my friend list had grown from about 250 to 475.  That was Facebook.

The next day, I started a new Twitter.  God, I hate Twitter.  But I started one and sent my first tweet.  Anne Hathaway started following me a few minutes later.  Everyone on Twitter really is who they say they are, right?  I updated my LinkedIn account.  And I connected Klout to everything possible:  my Instagram, WordPress, YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter, and yes of course, my Facebook.  Curiously, it doesn’t want to measure my Tinder activity.  I’ve committed myself to posting on FB and sending a tweet at least once a day.  And now that my book is almost done, I’m gonna get back into blogging at least once a week.  Take note that this is what you are currently reading…

Klout is supposed to update your score every day or so.

Last night I got my first update: 47.

My score jumped from 10 to 47 in two days. Holy Shit. And now this morning, I see it jumped another four points to 51. How the hell is this even possible!!??

Three days ago, when I hit 10, Keller’s minimum score of 60 seemed impossible! There’s a greater distance between me and the minimum than between that and the President of United States!! All hope lost! I lamented… But now, three days later, I’ve increased my measure by 510% and am only a mere nine points from the minimum.  The gap between the President’s influence and mine was almost cut in half! I haven’t even started blogging about this yet and just this morning I’ve been acquiring a new Twitter follower about every hour or so.

So Here’s My Conclusion on Klout:

Obviously the influential nature of my post-pastoral self is accelerating at an enormous rate.

Or maybe not.

It was a lot of fun trying to raise my score.  And I felt like I had actually been voted president when I saw my updated number.  But maybe this experience just shows how kinda superficial the whole thing is.  I’m pretty sure that the magnitude of my online influence didn’t actually jump 510% in the last three days. In fact, of the two things I posted on Facebook today, they only garnered a single like between the two of them.  One.  Now, even though your number of friends and followed aren’t supposed to influence your score, maybe the fact that I had so many all at once tripped one of the tracker-thingies.  But then shouldn’t the score have receded a bit between late Tuesday’s 47 and Wednesday morning’s 51, just a few hours later?  Either way, my score jumped astronomically!  Too astronomically.  I suppose the fact that I have more contacts puts my content in front of more people, but nowhere near presidential status.  And am I really all that much more qualified for book representation as a result?

Maybe Klout is just another fun and exciting social media platform of its own.  Did I mention that you can send tweets and Facebook posts from Klout?  Yes, it encourages you to do your posting from its own site:)  But whatever its accuracy, Klout is actually lots of fun.  Raising my score was a challenge that I continue to work towards.  I want to see how high can I drive that score!  Like an addicting video game, I want to win!  They give you samples of celebrities and populars along with their scores.  I’ve already conquered Mao Ye’s 46.  Next is Lesley Hauler’s 64.  Can I beat Jessica Gottlieb’s 78 or Zooey Deschanel’s 86?  And maybe one day Justin Bieber’s 92?  Who knew the Biebs was so close to the presidency!!

So will I continue to use Klout?  Hell Yeah!  The next time a literary agent asks for my score, I will be ready.  But even more than that, I just look forward to kicking Bieber’s ass.  See you on the field…

See Update:  “The Klout Race, Pt. 2”