Before you publish, Part 8 – Networking with other authors

Before you Publish - 8

In the initial post to this series, one of the items in the checklist involved networking with other authors. In a lot of ways, most of us do this through critique groups, conferences, meet-ups, and social media. Some of us don’t. I don’t participate in a critique group and haven’t in about 10 years. It’s not that I don’t want to, but there are a lot of reasons for it. Really, if I expect to be serious, none of the excuses are particularly good. In retrospect, if had I spent some time pushing Wine Bottles and Broomsticks through a critique circle, it would have been made a stronger product. The characters aren’t as good as they could be, and the plot could use a bit of patching. Not only that, there are a lot of things you can learn from other writers, even if it’s a better sense of what not to do.

The other aspect of this that I feel can be a little bewildering is trying to understand the publishing process better. I did spend a lot of time connecting with authors and researching this side, and if I were to start over, I’d do even more. Trying to connect with writers on social media can be a bit of a mixed bag. To start, my experience on Twitter and other social media platforms tend to stick to the writing side of the business, like characters, editing, motivation, and none-too little self-promotion. While this is great for that side of things, more detail and coaching is necessary for the business side. I mean, it does come up, and not infrequently, but you’ve got to ask for specifics to really get useful stuff. In my experience, authors help one another out.

The frustrating part of networking can be some groups miss the point a bit. I’m in a couple of Facebook groups where most of the time these groups wind up being: “Please give me advice on this cover/blurb,” or “I’m going to humble-brag about my sales.” When folks bring up nuts-and-bolts mechanical publishing stuff, they are often shut down with a “this is not what this group is for” or a “We’ve already covered this topic elsewhere on the group, go looking for it.” It’s a bit irritating and not particularly helpful. Not that the content or groups isn’t useful, it’s just very, very focused. When you’ve been turned off the group by thirty straight humble-brag posts, and start ignoring these groups, you’re potentially missing out on a valuable resource.

I think what I’m trying to say is: Yes, you’re going to get into groups and discussions that aren’t helping you at all. Maybe they’re even somewhat irritating, but don’t let that discourage you from connecting with other authors. One of the most valuable things I did leading up to the publication of Wine Bottles and Broomsticks was reaching out to ask authors what their experience had been and what they would recommend. If you want to know about keywords for Amazon – throw that question out to a group. If one group shuts you down, reach out to another. Frequently, someone will have a moment where they really want to pay something forward and will give you precisely the roadmap you need. This happened to me more than once, and it makes me want to reach out and help others in a meaningful way. Really, this is a community –a loose, disorganized community, but a community nevertheless. We all have to stick together and help each other out, and a lot of people feel that way.

I think my point is that before you publish –do this. Don’t just connect with fellow writers for a critique or editing, reach out for advice on all aspects from font choice to advertising tactics. Most importantly, keep in mind that other authors aren’t your audience, they’re your colleagues, and the sales pitches need to stay somewhere from minimal to 0 when reaching out. When you hit publish and begin letting folks know, they’re likely to lend you a hand getting the word out as you’ve probably done for them.

What’s been your experience networking? Leave a comment below.

3 thoughts on “Before you publish, Part 8 – Networking with other authors

  1. Asking questions is hard because there is so much misinformation out there, and if you’re new and don’t know (that’s why you’re asking the question I’m assuming) then you don’t know the information is wrong, either. There’s a group on FB and every post I see I say, “You have got to be f*cking kidding me.” And I have to remind myself that I am not the publishing police. I have made my share of mistakes and my way isn’t always the right way either. Thanks for posting this series! It’s fun to read. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. In any new-to-you group, I think it’s important to chime in on discussions and ask relevant questions. If you say “good job” often enough, people start to remember who you are and will respond more. Some of them will follow you back and comment for you. The supporting friendships can build.

    If you comment and they ignore you, maybe re-assess whether the information they provide is useful enough to tolerate a one-sided relationship. Or if you get shut down with that “we already talked about that” reply, just delete that group. They aren’t going to be helpful.

    The Internet is great for exploring and finding resources, but not all of them will be what you need.

    Liked by 1 person

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