How to Network Like a Rock Star

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 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  • Harlequin has a great forum to interact with published and unpublished authors alike on the Harlequin.com message boards.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. Join the conversation here: http://community.harlequin.com/forum.php
  • 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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Comments

  1. Julie Powers

    I am a spouse that is often on the move. I make friends every where I go, however, it’s the GREAT friendships that I don’t often get because of the constant moving. Those that I have built the lifelong friendships with are still with me socially but are not just around the corner to bend their ears or utilize their eyes. So… How do I learn to open myself up to a stranger and hope they give me the critique I need and not just blow smoke???

  2. Fiona Chapman

    I love networking, I’ve met some fantastic writer friends over the past year after stumbling across this competition on the internet. It was too late for me to enter then, but I’ve learnt so much this year and am in a good position to enter SYTYCW2013, with some great advice from said friends, too. Find friends with mutual interests. A group of us get together every Tuesday for our favourite TV programme and tweet our reactions to the scenes!!

  3. Emily Rodmell

    Julie,

    It may be trial and error. A lot of authors I know have tried out numerous critique partners before they found the right one. The great thing about online communities is that they’re always there no matter where you move to, so I’d recommend getting involved in the Harlequin boards and other online writing groups.

    Emily

  4. LeTeisha Newton

    Some really awesome advice. I want to be sure to share some of this with my followers. Everything is a work in progress. You have to find out what works for you and what doesn’t. Sometimes having thousands of followers isn’t always as great as having a few hundred really active ones.

  5. Tricia Saxby

    Ive been on the Harlequin forum for awhile now and still don’t feel like I have that friend connection with anyone. I unfortunately don’t have time to do the submission care forums but I’m trying to be as active as I can. I love the family feel of this community and I try and check in every day because of that.

  6. Debby Giusti

    Great advice, Emily! Coming together with other Christian authors on http://www.seekerville.blogspot.com has been a blessing to me. We discuss writing and publishing and welcome other writers to join us on the blog. As you mentioned, writing can be a solitary profession. Having an online support group where we can take questions and gather information is an invaluable resource.

  7. Terri Reed

    Great tips, Emily. Getting plugged-in online and with a writers organization is a must for an author because as you said, writing can be lonely. That’s one of the reasons I like writing continuities, built in support and friends. The Love Inspired authors are all very supportive of each other. The Craftie Ladies of Romance blog authors have grown close over the years. I belong to Romance Writers of America and found my critique partners and friends through this organization. American Christian Fiction Writers is another great place to get plugged-in for networking.

  8. Myra Johnson

    Excellent advice, Emily! I especially agree with your comment about not asking to friend/follow a publishing professional if the profile is locked or appears personal. This is something I’ve always tried to pay attention to. If I haven’t already made a meaningful connection with the person, I don’t feel comfortable intruding on their privacy.

  9. Ruth Logan Herne

    Emily, these are great tips. When a bunch of us contest divas were still aspiring half-a-dozen years ago, we formed our own group to talk openly, keep up spirits, share contest and judging info and pray one another into publication. That’s how the “Seekers” were formed and doing that gave each of us a launch point as new authors. A launch point of something is huge… because you’re right, trying to do it all after that amazing phone call is tough! Great tips for all! Thank you!

    Ruthy

  10. Marion Faith Laird

    Emily, as usual, your tips are spot on!

    For anyone who feels alone in their writing, and targeting romance (which you are, or you wouldn’t be here!), you can’t find a friendlier place than the Harlequin Community boards. You’ll find people with similar interests. Participate, and let people get to know you! Try the writing challenges. Be on the lookout for great opportunities like So You Think You Can Write. It helped my story make it into the Love Inspired editorial offices, and I just found out my book will be published next summer! 🙂

  11. Emily Rodmell

    Thanks for reading everyone and sharing your personal networking stories in the comments. Glad to see that many of you have found online communities of other writers to support you on your writing journeys.