How to Network as an Aspiring Author -- Even If You Hate People
Now, after months (even YEARS) of toiling away, you’re ready to release your book into the world. To dip your toe into the publishing business.
This is big. It’s scary.
You’ve spent all your time crafting this piece of your soul, and that wasn’t even the hard part.
Now you’ve got to sell it.
But guess what -- you’re not just selling your work. Oh no, that would be too easy. You have to differentiate yourself from all the other aspiring authors out there.
Agents receive thousands of queries a week.
More than a thousand books are self-published each day.
How is it even possible to stand out from the masses?
All right, I’ll tell you. Networking. Networking is the key, people.
Most writers (myself included) are introverts, so the thought of trying to meet new people might make you want to run screaming into the sunset.
I’m with you, friend. It’s okay to feel that way.
But it’s time to button up your britches and get to work. Your book isn’t going to emerge from its cocoon as a beautiful published novel if you don’t give it a mighty kick in the tush.
But don’t panic yet. I’ve compiled a list of five easy ways to network for even the most anti-social aspiring authors. Let’s get to it!
Get On Social Media
You want to dip your toes in the water? This is the way to do it.
Social media is the BEST way to market yourself as a writer, especially if talking to strangers is terrifying for you.
Let me throw some numbers at you:
78% of Americans (all ages) say they use Facebook on a daily basis. In case you didn’t know, that’s a lot of Americans.
71% use Instagram and 48% use Twitter.
They say you should go to where the people are. This is the way to do it.
A few pointers here: I recommend starting a separate page for your writing pursuits. You can create a Facebook Business page and link it to a separate Instagram account (that’s the way I do it). Invite all your normal friends to like your page, and use that page to connect with other writers and potential readers. The biggest thing here: you must post regularly.
Remember, users are logging onto their social media sites daily. You don’t have to post that often (unless you want to), but at least once a week is a good goal to shoot for.
This is the easiest, least stressful way to connect. Once you’ve landed an agent and your book is on the road to publishing (think positive thoughts here - it WILL happen!), you can use these platforms to advertise your book and drum up interest before its release.
Go to Writing Conventions
Ah, writing conventions. I went to my first one last year (League of Utah Writers Fall Conference). It was the most terrifying, most rewarding experience I’ve ever had for my writing career.
I heard about it through Facebook (social media, people, I’m telling you!) and bought myself a ticket on a whim. I didn’t know a soul there and I showed up by myself on a sunny Friday morning.
For two days, I wandered through the classes and presentations with my phone recording audio and my head on a swivel. There was SO MUCH information available to me. Live pitch sessions with agents (which I actually did, and it was amazing), panels with agents and published authors, presentations on every topic imaginable. I was like a sponge, absorbing everything until it started leaking out of me. (Literally, I was so excited that I cried when it was over.)
Not only did I learn a lot, but I met some amazing people. Everyone was so friendly and they welcomed me with open arms, even though they were probably having an internal anxiety attack like I was. I learned who the big writing names in my area were, and I even ended up in the same writing group as some of them.
Writing conventions are VITAL. If you ever get the opportunity, I highly recommend it. It’s an exhausting 2-3 days, but it will change your life.
Build a Website
Are you even official if you don’t have a website?
Look, when you start querying to agents, you need to have a digital presence. Social media pages are fine, but it looks so nice and professional to have an entire website that’s completely yours.
It doesn’t have to be fancy, and they’re not hard to make. Mine is powered by Wix, and it was extremely easy to set up. If you’re feeling fancy, you can add a blog, but it’s not necessary. A simple author introduction page and a resume of your works is good enough.
Often agents will do a Google search for your name if they’re interested in you. The more opportunities for your name to pop up on that search, the better.
Hand Out Business Cards
This is a bit old school, but it’s something I learned at the writing conference I attended last year.
I attended a presentation about building a brand as an author. The presenter highly recommended crafting a business card. (You can have them printed for like $25, guys, it’s not expensive.)
She said that she carries around a stack of her business cards and whenever she meets someone new, she hands them one. It simply has her email address and her website on it.
It’s an easy way to network, and you meet people all the time. Hand one to the cashier at the grocery store as you’re chatting. The bank teller. Your dentist. Anyone who asks about your personal life. Encourage them to follow you on Facebook or Instagram.
It’s an excellent way to build a readership.
Join a Group
If you take nothing else away from this post, please do this. I joined the League of Utah Writers about a year ago. Their different chapters have meetings once a month where they present about different topics and critique each other’s writing.
Previously, it was only my family that read my writing, but it’s so valuable to receive feedback from other writers. Not only do they understand the writing process, but they offer different perspectives on the same piece of work. It’s a great tool to gauge how your work would be received by a variety of audiences.
Most writing groups are small; I prefer it that way, since it’s more personalized.
If you’re not sure how to find one near you, do a Google search. There are several Facebook groups dedicated to beta readers and critiques too, if you’d prefer to do the whole thing digitally.
The Bottom Line
I cannot stress this enough -- even though it’s scary to meet new people and socialize like a human being (we’re writers; it’s just not in our DNA), it is VITAL to your success.
It’s okay if you don’t master these all at once. Pick one or two and try them out. Your manuscript will appear a lot stronger if you have a digital following in place before you start querying agents.
If you’re querying right now, that’s fine too! Keep at it, and build your following in the background.
The writing community is amazing. The more involved you are, the more you’ll reap the rewards. And you’ll meet some amazing folks along the way who will be important milestones on your path to publishing.
What ways do you network with readers (or future readers)? Do you have a favorite social media platform?
Let me know in the comments below!