I know that I cant be the only writer trying to build their network at every opportunity. And so, I want to just talk about networking as a writer. I find that networking as an artist of any sort can be a trial, depending on your location.
If this isn’t your first time on this bookish blog than you know how much of an advocate I am for conferences and conventions. And just to clarify, an academic conference is in no way more valid than a small convention or even a comic convention. It isn’t about the accolades an event has, it is about the personality of those who attend. Additionally, bigger isn’t necessarily better. Yes, the bigger a convention, the more people there are to make connections with but…smaller conventions mean that you spend more time around the same people and that means you’ll be more memorable, not someone they forget as soon as you’re out of sight.
If you want to read more on my love for all things conventional, check it out in either one of these posts.
And really any other post that isn’t a book review, haha.
What do I mean by bookish events?
Check with libraries and bookstores in your area. You never know who may be available.
Various writing groups are online but from time to time there may be a meet up or a write-in. Use these times to talk to people face to face, share your work and build relationships.
So what if you aren’t in school? As long as the event is open to the public, you’re fine. Many English programs bring in writers, agents and the like for events. Just going to these events means you’ll be surrounded by like-minded people and may make great long-lasting connections.
And don’t limit yourself to only bookish events. If you were part of an honor’s society or something, attend an event. If a public event is going on that interests you, go to it. You never know who may show up.
You may have some powerful people in your club and not know it. It never hurts to ask for help. The worst they can do is say “no.”
Sites such as LinkedIn, Scribophile, MeetUp and others can actually be helpful when it comes to making connections as a writer. Websites are useful but sooner or later that relationship has to go beyond the screen. Ask for a meet up or a Skype call, anything to make the relationship more real.
There are tons of bookish websites that can assist you, you can go on and comment, chat and ask questions. Smaller presses and websites actually want people to reach out. And various subscription boxes actually take short stories from new writers and include them in their monthly box. That means your work will be seen by all of their subscribers and you have officially established a meaningful connection. Don’t be timid, get out there and comment.
I think that the question everyone has on their minds is how to differentiate between valuable connections and invaluable ones. And the truth is, some of the connections you believed would be important end up not mattering as much as others. Say you meet an established writer and exchange contact info. That’s great if you actually get a response from them later on. Don’t get me wrong here! There are a lot of established writing professionals who do reach out to the inexperienced. I have benefited from that greatly, but not all connections can do that. Maybe that one guy who said he was an assistant at a small publisher can help you more than you thought. Or that person who had a few writers in their graduating class. All in all, any connection is a good one. Don’t avoid some simply because they don’t appear to be valuable to pushing you forward towards your career goal. You may learn, you may not but nothing is a waste of time. Go out, try to make as many connections as you can. Reach out in whatever way you can (as ling as you don’t become a stalker) and share what you love to do. Be open and honest and introduce yourself as an artist. Maybe make a business card to hand out.
In the past, I have used all of these options to try and build my network even a little. And it has worked. What is important is to keep the connections tethered. Reach out every so often so that the relationship grows organically and doesn’t seem forced. It’s polite and people are more likely to assist when they trust your character. Another word of advice is that you shouldn’t go out into the world trying to force anyone to publish your piece. That’s a big no-no. Be yourself and start simple. Maybe just having an agent in your network can help. Maybe you can ask them to check a query letter and get their opinion. That is already a big step up.
Either way, keep writing, keep reading and feel free to contact me! 😊