I’ve always recoiled at the term “networking.” It always makes me think of people in business suits trading business cards and talking about having “my people get with your people” and “doing lunch”…a lot of high-falutin’ stuff for some guy who’d just as soon wear his jeans and sweatshirt to the burger joint and grab a cup of coffee and jawjack for a while with a buddy. Well, if we can just squeeze our brains around it, it’s really the same thing.
A large chunk of writers prefer to sit in a cave and write, or just be around close friends. We’re not extroverts. Yes, some are, and they enjoy the networking thing, but the rest of us have to force ourselves to get out there and meet people who can help us with our careers. And on the flip side, to help others with their careers.
You don’t have to jump into it up to your neck without dipping your toe in to test the waters first. You can do it gradually and comfortably. Think about it. Learn about it. See what other people are doing and find out most of them are actually a lot like you. And once you figure that out, it’s easier.
So here to explain that and discuss some ways to go about it is an article I found on The Creative Penn website by Chris Robley from BookBaby.com. It gives you plenty to think about but in a fairly short article that’s…I promise!…totally painless. Just note that this article is a few years old, though most of the info is pretty timeless. Some technology is more current, but just add in Facebook and Instagram when he talks about Twitter and you’ll do fine. Take a look.
7 Networking Tips for Authors
Networking with other authors is one of the best ways to keep motivated and also to learn more about writing, publishing and book marketing. I learn every day from my author network and I wouldn’t be without it. But networking takes some work, both online and in the real world. In this article Chris Robley from BookBaby.com offers some tips to help authors get the most out of networking.
The verb form of “network” is a curious thing.
I’m no etymologist, but I’ll bet it grew out of an archaic Latin or Germanic word that meant, “Hey, get off your lazy butt and go make some friends for a change!” I imagine shy Virgil being told by his father to leave the farm and meet some nice politicians. Poetry needs patronage, after all!
I know, I know. Solitary creative-types (ummm, writers!) despise glad-handing. But networking doesn’t have to be a dirty word. In this post I hope to explain why networking (or forging solid professional relationships with other folks in your surrounding literary spheres) is essential, and how you can make the right connections without that icky feeling afterwards.
Why do writers need to network? Why doesn’t my work speak for itself?
Firstly, if a book could talk it would take 3 days to tell its tale. YOU have to speak for your work before anyone else is going to take the time to actually read it. (And speak quickly, for attention spans are shrinking!) Networking is one way of getting your foot in the door to give that initial pitch.
Secondly, in a world with lots of talent, success requires more than simply being great. If two deserving submissions are under consideration by an editor, which one do you think will be accepted? – The one written by the author who did the more effective networking, of course!
It’s a given in the business world that people do favors for their friends, or as Derek Sivers says, “Life is like high school. It’s all about who you know, how socially charming you are, what scene you’re in, what you wear, what parties you’re at, flirting, and being cool.”
No, you shouldn’t just stay at your writing desk for the next 20 years and pray for a publishing miracle. You have to get up, get out, and meet people.
The good news is that the folks you need to meet aren’t necessarily uber-hip socialites, beautiful and fit fashionistas, or intimidating rock stars. They’re writers, editors, publishers—lovers of words—people just like you!
You can do it. Here’s how.
1. Start slow and adjust your expectations.
Not everyone storms a scene like Dylan in Greenwich Village. You don’t have to “arrive,” fully formed and trumpets blaring.
Get to know one person at a time, and stay in it for the long haul. Wade in the shallow end of your local literary community for a while. Maybe even show your face a few times at readings and other events before you start introducing yourself.
You might be itching to meet the book reviewer from your city’s newspaper, but if they see you around town a few times in all the right places, they might start thinking they need to meet YOU!