One of the big concerns for authors is networking (often a bigger concern than writing well, which is bad but another topic, covered bluntly in this post). Networking is important whether you’re trying to find a publisher for your work or readers for a published work, whether you’re publishing traditionally or self-publishing. And today social networking reigns.
Some people love it, some people hate it, many people debate what, if anything, is really successful. Obviously it’s hard to track. How many people have bought one of my books because of seeing my posts here? Any? But that’s not always the point. Social networking is more like real-life making friends. It takes time, it works better with some people than others, and you’re never sure quite where that friendship is going to lead.
I met Joni Sensel through our roles as SCBWI Regional Advisors and she later invited me to join The Spectacle, where we got to know each other better. Since then we’ve shared self-publishing information and exchanged a manuscript critique for proofreading. I’d call that a success, not because I can track hundreds of books sold due to the relationship, but because it’s been fun and interesting and educational.
Then there’s the woman I “met” through the Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Chat Board. I mentioned that my Haunted series had been dropped by the publisher, so I was thinking of self-publishing the fourth book, The Ghost Miner’s Treasure. I was just asking for a bit of feedback on how middle grade e-books were selling, but I got a message from the editor of a small press who is interested in publishing the book. We haven’t signed a contract yet, but we are discussing specifics (and they’re even offering a small advance!). So there is a networking connection that may put money in my bank account.
But did you notice, that wasn’t my goal? Those of you who are long-time followers of this blog are probably here because you enjoy reading about and discussing speculative fiction, not because you want to hear sales pitches. Cynthia Leitich Smith’s blog has thousands of followers not because she occasionally talks about her new books, awards, etc., but because she covers all kinds of children’s book publishing news and features many other authors talking about their new books. It’s like a big, informative cocktail party.
So don’t be afraid of social networking, and don’t network just because authors are supposed to or because it’s the key to riches and fame. And if you’re not a writer — if you’re a librarian or a reader who loves to talk books — we love hearing your voice too.
So get out there and make some friends.
Chris Eboch is writing an article on “How to Use, Not Abuse, Your Social Networks.” Any advice?