Advice from the Archives: How to Network like a Rock Star

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by Emily Rodmell

Writing can often be a lonely profession, just you and your computer. That’s why a support system is vital. Sometimes knowing the right people and having them know you can be helpful in your writing journey. How do you build that system? By networking. Here are some tips on whom you should network with and how to accomplish it.

Networking with Editors and Agents

Getting your name out there with editors and agents can put you in a position to showcase your fabulous story and snag a book deal. But what are the best ways to do that?

  • Interact with us on social media, but be sure to act professional. A bad impression is worse than no impression. The general rule would be that if an editor or agent’s social media account (Twitter, Facebook, blog, etc…) is open to the public and lists their profession, it’s ok to follow/friend the editor or agent on social media. But if the profile is locked or looks personal, it’s best to avoid friending them. If the profile is open, social media can be a great place to learn an industry professional’s likes and dislikes and garner tips for your writing journey. It can also be a good place to get yourself noticed. Industry professionals often welcome questions on social media, so take advantage of the forum. But don’t get angry if we don’t always respond. It can be hard to keep up with the volume sometimes.
  • Attend writing conferences and take advantage of pitch opportunities. Most writing conferences have specific times set aside for authors to pitch their books to editors and agents. Grab yourself a slot, research the house and books the agent/editor publishes and come prepared to tell that person why your book would be perfect for them.

Networking with Other Authors

It’s not just industry professionals who can help you on your way to publication. Other authors can guide you on your way as well.

  • Harlequin has a great forum to interact with published and unpublished authors alike on the Harlequin.com message boards. I’m always amazed at how gracious our current authors are in reaching out to prospective authors and answering questions. So don’t be shy.
  • Local chapters of writing organizations can also be a great place to meet other writers of all different skills and career levels. Chapters will often contain members from New York Times bestselling authors to authors who are working on their first manuscript. Find a group of other writers to fellowship with. It can be helpful for morale and for your career. And when you make it, don’t forget to offer your help to newbies as well.

Networking with Future Readers

The time to start building a fan base is now. If you wait until after you’re published, you’ll find that you have less time than ever. Spend time building a following now so that you have an automatic fan base when your book releases.

  • Make sure you have a professional looking web site. You want to have a place for readers to find you.
  • Start a blog or join a discussion forum. Offer tips about writing, talk about your personal writing journey or any personal passions. Make sure you’re offering useful information rather than sounding like an ad. How do you get readers to come to your blog? Go to theirs. Find other blogs you like and comment on them. Make friends and support their virtual endeavors. You’ve heard the old adage, “To have friends, you have to be a friend.” Well, the same applies online, whether it be on a blog, Twitter or in a discussion forum.

Now that you have some basic networking tips, get out there and get noticed. If you have any tips that have worked for you, feel free to share them in the comments.

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