Networking Tips for Writers

I LOVE networking. If I were allowed to consider networking a hobby, yesterday's post on why I can't have hobbies would've never existed. (If you read that post, you know that networking isn't a hobby because it's necessary for your career.) Regardless, I think networking is FUN!

A lot of people don't feel the same way. Networking can be boring, annoying, or even scary if you don't go into it with the right mindset.
Me signing books at an SCBWI networking event.


That's why today's post is going to be about networking tips!

Why You Need to Network

Whether you plan on publishing your work traditionally or independently, you need a strong network of fellow writers and readers. I've heard it said that the days of writers living secluded lifestyles with their twenty cats are long over. You need to sell not only your work but yourself

Maybe you're trying to sell your new novel to an agent. If you just email them your manuscript, chances are, you'll get put at the bottom of ten thousand other unsolicited manuscripts they have to finish reading. However, if you meet that agent in person ahead of time--maybe at a writer's conference--you can build a rapport with them, and get them to look at your work sooner. Same goes for publishing houses!

Maybe you're an indie author trying to increase your book sales. You need to be hardcore marketing on Twitter, Facebook, and all over the Internet, which means you need to develop relationships with people you don't know in real life! The more someone likes you, the more likely they are to buy your book.

Also, meeting new people online is a great way to connect with book bloggers (like me! If you're on this page, congratulations! You're already doing something right!), which can help you get more reviews for your book. More reviews = a larger audience, which again, means more people will buy your book.


I went to events at local Chicago store
The Book Cellar. I got to know the people
who run the store, and ended up hosting
my Beauty King launch party there!
That doesn't mean indie authors get to do all their marketing online, though. (Well, maybe you can if your book is sold only in ebook form and not print.) If you want to get your book into bookstores, host signings at conventions and festivals, or host a book launch party, it's super beneficial to have already built up a strong network of fellow writers and readers to

come to these events, or buy your book in a store. If you write kids' books, network with teachers and school administrators as well, so you can do school visits or get your book into classrooms.

To someone who doesn't like networking, I'm sure this can all sound really overwhelming. So, now onto my specific tips!

Join Groups!

Whatever type or genre of writing you're interested in, it's highly likely there is a group of like-minded individuals you can join! I did another post about finding a critique group a little while back. Critique groups are excellent for meeting new people and expanding your network of writers.

You should look even bigger, too! For example, I'm a member of SCBWI (the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators). I'm a co-rep for the North Side of Chicago chapter. We put on tons of awesome programming all the time, where writers can gather and meet each other. Once, we even put on an event where writers could meet three agents and pitch their work to them. We regularly host author panels and discussions, so we can learn from each other's successes in the industry. I've made more new friends than I can count in my past two years with SCBWI. Plus, I've hosted one panel for them, and will be holding a discussion on crowdfunding in October!

There are tons more amazing writer's groups to join. Two that immediately come to mind are Chicago Women in Publishing and the Chicago Screenwriters' Network. You can also go to large writing conventions. I hear that conventions are an AMAZING place to meet with agents and publishers. However, I have never actually gone to one, since they usually have admission fees in the hundreds of dollars, plus travel costs. (If you have a car and/or a large salary, go to them!) I might apply to try getting a scholarship to one of them this year, though! I'll let you guys know how that goes.

Develop a Contagious Enthusiasm

Nobody is ever going to be more excited about your work than you are. So, if you don't come off as excited about it, guess what? Nobody else is going to be interested.

When I was growing up, I was always told, "Savy, you need to develop a sense of modesty!" Everything around me was screaming that humility was a virtue. However, that's not always true. Being too modest as a writer is a death sentence.

When you meet new people, they will probably say, "So, what's your new novel about?" NEVER answer with anything like, "Oh, it's just this silly idea I had," or, "Well, it's kind of stupid, but..." NO! Now is the time to get animated. Put a big smile on your face, and tell them about your book the same way you'd tell your middle-school best friend about the guy/girl you want to ask to the dance.

Chances are, they'll be excited too. They'll say, "Oh, that sounds cool! I want to read that when it comes out!"

Then you get their email address, email them when it comes out, and hold them to it!

View Everyone as a Potential Friend

Sometimes, the thought of walking into a room where you don't know anyone can be super intimidating. Walking into a big room of friends, less so.

On Lieze Neven's podcast The Write Way, I talked about how networking becomes a lot less scary when you view it not as a business decision, but as a way to make new friends. The best way to get out of your shell is to remind yourself that everyone else is here to make new friends, too! You all share an interest in writing, and you all want to talk about the things you love most--words and books! You already have so much in common, and that's what friendship is based on!

I hope these tips are helpful to you! If you have any specific questions about networking and would like additional advice, please leave a comment for me, and I'll be happy to help!

Happy networking!

Love,
Savy

Comments

  1. I love this. I have a love/hate relationship with networking. I have high anxiety so I realized the issues that have come along with self-publishing for me. I always have to look at it as making friends otherwise the events portion of it cause too high of anxiety, especially if I go at them alone. I recently moved to a new town too, which causes more pressure, but honestly should be rather exciting because it's a great reason to get myself out in a new city and state to spread the word!

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    1. Thanks for your comment! That's gotta be super tough having moved to a new town recently...I hope you've been able to find writing events & groups to join! I'm really fortunate to live in Chicago because we have so many writing groups & events. Maybe partially because I organize some of them. Best of luck with meeting other writers in your area! I personally think that if you view it as making friends, you'll have a much easier time. Also, there's always connecting on Twitter and stuff! :)

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