Being a writer is all about bleeding words. But becoming an author requires more... business strategy.
That fact lies behind the reason I recommend the Go Teen Writers blog to everyone who asks me how I got published and how they can, too: here at GTW, we get that words are great and writing is what we do but, well, we need a little something more if we want to hold our book in our own hands someday soon--and see that book in others' hands, too!
How Authors are Made
“It occurs to me that our survival may depend upon our talking to one another.” ― Dan Simmons, Hyperion
As writers, we need (and dream!) of one day connecting with a publisher. Or an agent. Or a critique partner. Or, if we're self-pubbing, a cover designer, a formatter, an editor. Most importantly, readers!
And it doesn't stop there. We need to continually connect with readers, bloggers, influencers, bookstore employees and execs, newspaper reporters, librarians, television journalists...
The list goes on, of course. We need an ever-growing network in the industry, an expanding reader base, etc. So now that you get that we need connections, how do we make them?
The Easiest and Hardest Thing Authors Do
“Be persistent, be persistent, they say. But please, do not mistake being a pest for being persistent.” ― Nike Thaddeus
Making a connection can be as simple as sending one of your favorite authors a Facebook message telling them how much you appreciate their most recent release. This is how I found one of my endorsers.
Making a connection can be as difficult as calling a local coffeeshop that hosts local authors for book signings three times to confirm a book signing you scheduled two months ago. This is how my first book signing almost didn't happen. ;)
At the end of this post, I'll include five ways you can make connections with readers and industry professionals (publishers, agents, editors) and fellow writers, but the most important thing to understand about connecting with people is that it will most likely happen in unchoreographed ways.
In fact, people can usually tell when you've made them into a project. Which brings me to my next point:
Ditching Networking for truly Making Connections
When Stephanie asked me about guest-posting about networking and making connections in the writing industry, I was elbow-deep "networking" in an industry I had suddenly found myself immersed in: the wedding industry. You may have noticed the new name attached up there; that's right, I got married this summer!
I prepared myself for marriage by reading books and gleaning advice from married folk, but little prepared me for the adventure that was wedding planning, an adventure that required a lot of, you guessed it, connections! For example, our choice of venue revolved around a connection of my grandmother's. My grandmother had recently begun attending a church she had been a part of years before, the very church where my cousin got married. My cousin's wedding had been one of the first weddings I had ever been in.
I walked down the aisle of that church years ago as one of my cousin's flower girls.
When my husband and I were dating, I had never even thought of getting married in that same church, but when the opportunity presented itself, when the connection was made while we searched madly for venues that would hold our gargantuan guest list, the choice was simple.
Last month I walked down that aisle on my daddy's arm...as the bride.
As another example, my husband stood out to me before I even met him because of a connection he has to my fictional hero...his first name is the same as Dirk's Christian name.
So, put forth a little effort when it comes to making connections in this industry (see the ideas below!), but don't forget you're dealing with people. Not projects. Be kind. Courteous. Patient.
“We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men; and among those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects.” ― Herman Melville
5 Ideas for Making Connections
- Leave blog comments. My goal is to visit one new blog every week. Visit the blogs of fellow writers, editors, and agents, as well as those of book review bloggers.
- In fact, comment...everywhere! Wherever you are on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest), be social. Don't just Heart or Like. Leave comments
- Share others' blog posts on social media. Even moreso than a blog comment, a simple share may endear a blogger/agent/editor to you. Don't simply click "share," either. Include the link and a quick caption in your own words.
- Respond on Twitter. Nearly every publishing house, editor, and agent is active on Twitter. Respond to their tweets every once in a while.
- Explore Goodreads. Until recently, I didn't know how interesting Goodreads can be. There are tons of ways to connect with fellow readers, writers, and all-around book-lovers: events, discussions, groups, asking questions, recommending books to others, etc. Have fun with it!
Stephanie here! I'm going to take Rachelle's advice by sending an email to the author of the book I'm currently reading, The Blue Tattoo, to tell her how much I've enjoyed it and how rare it is for me to feel this engaged by a nonfiction book.
What are you going to do TODAY to build a connection?