Never underestimate the power of a personal writers network. These are your first, and perhaps your most loyal, fans. These are people who understand what drives you to put pen to paper or finger to keyboard each day; who get why you persist in the face of overwhelming competition or exhaustive rejection. They’ve trodden down the same path of ennui, of tortured days when no ideas would come, of times when the words, “why bother?” are the ones that burn brightest in your mind. So don’t ignore them and for God’s sake, don’t turn up your nose at their offers of connection.
Mythology paints writers as enigmatic, solitary creatures who toil away in self-inflicted isolation to turn out written works of heartrending magnitude. But whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, having a strong support system of like-minded individuals can only help you be a better, and more successful, writer.
As an example of a general bias against writers networking, I’ve seen plenty written on why writers shouldn’t bother with Twitter since we’re reaching other writers rather than readers. The argument is you’re tweeting your work to other people who are doing the same thing. Except that relationships with other writers are invaluable and Twitter is a great place to forge them. Why should you bother?
Writers help promote each other’s work. Writers have friends, family, and followers too. I’ve sent friends’ new releases to my inner circle for them to read and review — and they’ve done the same. Since many of my writer contacts write in similar genres to me, it’s a win-win for all of us.
You can reach out for editing and beta-reading assistance. Nothing feels better than having another writer tell you you’re on the right track with your new plot line or that your manuscript is error-free. For instance, I have at a few writers with whom I exchange drafts for editing. While help of this nature can be labor-intensive, it saves us money and the input is invaluable.
A strong writers network can foster collaboration. Collaboration can consist of co-authoring a new story, compiling an anthology, starting a new guild or any number of enterprises. Having another person reliant on your contribution can be important for writers who need a little encouragement to get themselves out there or who tend to procrastinate.
Sometimes you just need to be understood. No one understands a writer’s temperament, struggles, and roadblocks like another writer. I can moan to my husband all day long about writer’s block, but only another writer really comprehends what I’m up against.
There are so many other reasons, but you get the idea. Think about it: most professions have associations, groups, guilds, alliances, and other organizations that help support their members. One of the easiest ways for writers to foster real connections is to meet organically.
You can join a group on Goodreads, get on the Kindle boards, or join one of the myriad writers’ and authors’ groups out there. But my favorite way to grow your personal network is the same way I grow my social circle: organically. I’ve connected with a handful of authors via Twitter who are talented and like-minded. It’s a great way to not only add a member to your network, but to make real friends. Facebook can provide the same kind of forum for writers to get to know one another on a personal level. Writer’s conferences and retreats are also fantastic places to foster some close, true connections.
However you go about it, do it with the idea of making good, supportive friends and you’ll have success.
Writers come in all shapes, sizes, and personalities. Some are extroverts, while others would rather work solo. Still others would like to reach out, but are afraid of rejection, neglect, or even of competition.
There is enough room in the writing world for all talented wordsmiths.
If you’re an established author, don’t be afraid to reach out to budding writers and mentor their careers. One of them may one day be in a position to help you in return. Do you have a trick that’s helped you either in writing or in marketing yourself? Share it. Don’t hoard information under the premise that it will give them an advantage that previously belonged only to you. And remember, word of mouth is a powerful, powerful thing. Which brings me to my next point:
If you develop relationships, don’t drop them when you get a publishing contract, win a contest, or feel like you’re pulling ahead of your group.
Be authentic, people. Be loyal. Then authenticity and loyalty will be returned to you. Your writers network is celebrating your successes along with you. They’re trumpeting your wins to their friends, family, and followers and feeling good about it, after all, they knew you ‘when’!
Authors who develop relationships solely for what they can do for them are doomed to have karma park its large and unlovely carcass on your doorstep one day. Don’t be that writer. Be yourself and be helpful, then be open to accepting the benefits that are sure to follow.
See you on the next page!