You know those stories where every one of the main characters go through hell and all come out alive? Sure you do. The writer puts the hero and his/her sidekick,...
I spend a lot of time alone with my imaginary friends. From an initial idea until a finished novel, I might live with a set of characters and their world in my mind for a year or more, longer still if I’m working on a series.
And most of that time, the work happens alone, in quiet, unguarded moments when a thorny plot issue might get resolved, in hours and hours at the computer adding to a story word by word. Alone. Most writers I know don’t like to share a lot about their work during that incubation phase, so often we feel cut off from our most logical support network of other writers to wrestle story demons on our own.
But while the writing is a solitary art, being a writer doesn’t need to be.
Networking is one of those buzzwords you see in business bingo charts, but it’s really just about finding and forging relationships with other folks who are walking the same path as you. And I’ve been fortunate to find many, many wonderful creative souls to surround myself with.
When I was just starting to write long form fiction, I stumbled onto a large internet-based site for writers called Forward Motion for Writers. (http://fmwriters.com/zoomfm/) It was there that I forged my first critique group and we worked together for several years. I also loved the chat room function and it was at Forward Motion that I was introduced to the concept of a Word War.
It was a fun challenge to write for a designated time and then post your word count to encouragement and kudos from your fellow word warriors. There was nothing competitive about it and it made the day-to-day work a little less lonely.
It was also a place for this newbie wannabe author to get a lot of valuable advice from authors further down the path who were happy to pay it forward. (As I am now.) Tamara Jones was one of those authors, so this is my chance to say a formal thank you.
Over the years, I have forged relationships with other writers, some through local workshops and writing events, others through social networking on FB, Twitter, and GooglePlus, and others through organizations like Broad Universe and SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America).
Many of these writers have become my friends, some I’ve gone on to meet in ‘meat space’, others I know only virtually. What is striking to me about my writing relationships is how authentic they are, how genuinely we all want to see one another succeed, and how vital they are to buoying spirits in the face of difficulties and rejection.
Aside from general cheer-leading, networking in this way is also vital for career building and can form the cornerstone of an authentic promotion (another one of those scary marketing buzzwords) and outreach plan.
Like so many of my fellow authors, I am an introvert. A social one, to be sure, but an introvert none-the-less. Self-promotion, publicity, and marketing are all items I’d put behind getting root canal without anesthesia on my list of things I’d like to do. I far prefer talking about other people’s books and all the geeky things I enjoy than my own work.
But if no one knows about your work, it’s the proverbial tree that falls alone in the forest. This is where networking can be an incredible boost to being found.
I’ll talk about the general benefits of being in a strong network, and then I can talk about some of the specifics related to specific networks.
By engaging my networks (which means just letting the folks I’m regularly connected with that I had a book release pending and was looking for specific help with it), I was able to:
- get recommendations of writers to request cover blurbs from
- get signal boosting on social media
- get early readers of an eArc, who then posted early reviews
- put together a month long blog tour including over 20 hosts, each with a different audience reach
In addition to guest host space from my internet-based writing friends, many of the blog tour hosts emerged from my involvement in Broad Universe (http://broaduniverse.org/). Broad Universe (BU) is an organization that supports women writing in speculative fiction genres. It’s not a publisher, but a collective; members are both published and unpublished, indie, small press, and traditionally published (or a combination thereof). It is run by volunteers and in addition to its networking mandate, BU also pays for table space at relevant conventions, runs panels, including their RapidFire readings at those cons, and offers discounted access to the NetGalley program to bring books to the attention of reviewers and book bloggers. The organization has also started to run regular FB parties which has introduced members’ work to new audiences. I have greatly benefited from my membership in BU and have met wonderful and supportive writers who have become close friends.
But all of these benefits of networking are secondary to its true power: the power of connection because we all do get by with a little help from our friends.
I’ll end with LJ’s 3 rules of networking and social media presence:
- be authentic
- pay it forward
- practice gratitude
Thanks Lisa for coming to tamboblog!
Lisa’s giving away one free copy of ANY of her ebook titles. Check out her links below, and comment to be entered to win. Contest entries close on week from today, a 11:59pm Tuesday July 5th.
About Dreadnought and Shuttle
When a materials science student gets kidnapped, she’s drawn into a conflict between the young crew of a sentient spaceship, a weapons smuggling ring, and a Commonwealth-wide conspiracy and must escape before her usefulness as a hostage expires.
Find it at:
Google Books: https://books.google.com/books/about?id=0606DAAAQBAJ
LJ Cohen is a novelist, poet, blogger, ceramics artist, and relentless optimist. After almost twenty-five years as a physical therapist, LJ now uses her anatomical knowledge and myriad clinical skills to injure characters in her science fiction and fantasy novels. She lives in the Boston area with her family, two dogs, and the occasional international student. DREADNOUGHT AND SHUTTLE (book 3 of the SF/Space Opera series Halcyone Space), is her sixth novel. LJ is a member of SFWA, Broad Universe, and the Independent Publishers of New England.
Find her at:
email LJ: email@example.com
Amazon Author page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B006QL6GA0