The Network: Kind of like the Matrix, but not

July 22, 2009 at 10:16 PM | Posted in Agents, Authors, Life, Publishing, Queries, Writing Advice, YA | 5 Comments

Networking. It is by far the scariest word in the publishing world. Query? Oh yeah – the word “query” makes amateur novelists break into a cold sweat. Speak the name of a writer’s dream agent and she gets inevitable goosebumps. But nothing compares to the dreaded N word.

I was terrified of this “networking” concept mostly because I had no clue what it meant. I had a vague idea that it involved stalking well-known writers, sending them candy and pink paper hearts, and begging them to be my friend. This idea appealed to my inner fangirl, but not my sense of dignity, so I eventually decided against it.

Instead, I started a blog.

At first it was a bit of a joke. “Right – because the world really wants to read about a college kid’s journey to publication.” And at first, no one really did. A comment here, a comment there – mostly from long-time friends or family members. I shrugged it off and decided that my original assessment was correct. Nobody cared.

And then an extraordinary thing happened. I stopped caring too. At least, I stopped caring about the popularity of my blog, and I started paying more attention to other things. Like the other amateur writers blogging their way through the publication process. Like the talented teens who were pounding out their first query letter for a fabulous fantasy novel. Like the debut authors hosting contests on their websites. I started talking with these amazing people. I started commenting on their websites, celebrating their victories with them, promoting their books.

And they returned the favor. My blog suddenly had readers. I had friends helping to edit my manuscript, giving me agent advice, asking about the status of my WIPs. In short – I was networking.

The internet has made the world a very small place. Nowadays you don’t necessarily have to go to conferences or live in New York City to make contacts in the publishing industry. Sometimes it’s as simple as reviewing a debut author’s book, or offering to critique a friend’s manuscript, or editing a new writer’s query letter. Sometimes it’s simply about looking beyond yourself and asking what you can offer the world. You might be surprised what you receive in return.



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  1. Great post.
    Networking does sound daunting when you don’t know how to go about it, but this post shows a clear way to start.

  2. I’m right with you with how daunting networking is. One can only keep trying though. :)

  3. This is so true! Networking is scary when you look at it as a big, necessary evil, but when it’s just chatting online with friends and enjoying their work and triumphs with them, it’s easy and a pleasure!

  4. Networking – trying, in general, to get known as a writer – scares the bejeebus out of me. And the funny thing is, I have no clue WHY. In real life I have no problem with coming up to people and attempting to become their friend, or with putting myself on display in a blog-like way… so why, why, why does the idea intimidate me so much on the *Internet*, where stuff like that is supposed to be easier? Maybe I’m just scared of the constant effort it takes or the possibility of failure. Right now I’m just relying on my non-published to become my published friends… it’s worked 3 times so far… ;) but it’s not enough. Gahhh.

  5. Good article.

    I think one of the important things about ‘networking’ or whatever else you might want to call it (because you can give it your own name like, ‘making new contacts’, ‘talking to people’, ‘expressing your views’ or even, ‘listening to what others have to say’)is that it contributes to building self-confidence.

    There are three components to that – being a aware of who you are, whether you like who you are, and your belief in your ability to achieve things. Networking is a good tool to build all of those in a writer. So, put yourself about. Good writers generally don’t live in caves on mountain tops by themselves!

    Chris Warren
    Author and Freelance Writer
    Randolph’ Challenge Book One – The Pendulum Swings

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