Building an author network is one of my favorite topics on the tour for so many reasons, but it all boils down to this: without them, I wouldn’t be here.
We all have support networks in our lives. If you’re not an author, but a reader, all these concepts still apply, and we’re giving away 2 copies of the first book in Brenda Novak’s newest series The Bulletproof Trilogy, Inside! Simply leave a comment to enter. Open international.
Anyone who has traveled this road, attempted to travel this road, watched anyone travel this road or listened to enough of us bitch about traveling this road knows it’s got a few divots. Times a few divots by a few years and those of us who’ve been on it long enough are missing a few vertebrae. Authors help authors fill in those rough spots so they don’t jar our teeth loose. I’ve been on this road for a decade now. If it weren’t for the wonderful friends I’ve developed in this business I’d either be wearing premature dentures, or I’d have jumped on the freeway years back.
If I’d have known from the beginning how powerful friends could be in this business – both personally and professionally – I would have started building friendships from day one. Luckily, I figured it out a couple of years before I sold. And between then and now, each and every author I’ve met has either aided me or taught me something.
Here is my best advice to writers related to building their network:
Start Early - The earlier, the better. Even if you’re just starting out, it’s not too soon to meet people and make connections. That said, let me stress this: don’t force relationships. Tense or uncomfortable relationships will only drain you when you need energy the most. Stay open, keep the idea in mind and friendships with occur naturally. Writers are friendly people who gravitate toward others who understand their unique need to create.
Remember, cream floats to the top. Solid, trusted relationships are not built overnight. Traveling this road with someone builds a bond that will see you through the rough times, be there to celebrate your achievements and aid you when you need it most.
Branch out - Keep an open mind when developing relationships. Screenwriters, teachers, attorneys, physicians…you’d be surprised how many people have always wanted to write, and who may be writing in private on the side. If they’re not writing, they would probably be thrilled to help an author, because living vicariously is the next best thing.
Socialize outside your genre. You’d be surprised how many people may tell you they read romance, but love to pick up the latest YA when their kid goes to bed. And something I learned a very long time ago that still holds true—good writing crosses all genre; writing craft can be shared equally throughout fiction and is one element that brings all fiction writers together. Craft is a fabulous way to meet and build friendships outside your main writing genre.
Today’s writers have amazing social tools at their fingertips. There is absolutely no reason every writer can’t be out there meeting both writers and readers. With so many options, there are several alternative for every personality types, from the shyest introvert to the boldest extrovert. You don’t have to do them all, in fact, I don’t recommend it. I suggest trying a few out, finding what suits your personality and build from there. The information available through these channels is limitless. The support amazing. I would be lost without my blog buddies and my Twitterverse. I’m still on the fence about Facebook – but it’s a must for others. Everyone is different – find what works for you.
Give - This may lean toward personality or personal preference. I will readily admit that giving is part of my genetic makeup and I would give regardless of what I received in return. It’s not always a good thing. I can and often do hinder myself when I can’t balance this characteristic. But what I gain on the flip side is beyond expectations. In a practical sense, if you help someone and that person helps you in return, you are leveraging resources and getting ahead simultaneously. In a theoretical sense, like attracts like, so by giving you create a spirit of generosity toward yourself and the universe gives back.
Giving can be generosity in any form: information, aid, financial support, emotional support, camaraderie, friendship, promotional help…the list goes on. And giving can benefit more than one person at a time – it’s called a win-win, and the more you look for those winning opportunities, the more they appear.
Here are just a few ways my network of author friends have benefited me over the years:
My author friends have brought me:
The blurbs for my debut novel. A heartfelt thank you to Larissa Ione, Stephanie Tyler, Elisabeth Naughton and Bonnie Hearn Hill.
- This fabulous Tour: Journey of a Debut Author. Deep appreciation to the wonderful Lauren Dane, Kat Martin, Pamela Palmer, Suzanne Brockmann, Carly Phillips, Brenda Novak, Sharon Sala, Cindy Gerard, Christina Dodd, Marjorie Liu, Anne Stuart and Lara Adrian and my blog tour coordinator Ashley March!
- Joint Reader Meet & Greet Conference Ops: Thanks to uber-authors for including me: Cynthia Eden, Caridad Peñiero, Lisa Renee Jones, Donna Grant and Elisabeth Naughton.
- Conference Workshop Panel Ops
- Multiple joint promotional ops
- Book review swap ops
- Cross promotional ops
- Group blog tour ops
- Shared print ad ops
- Emotional support, professional advice, friendship of more fantabulous authors than I could name.
Here are some of the locations I found best for connecting with other writers:
- Craft courses
- Book Signings
- Critique Groups
- Writing Organizations
- Online (as noted above)
This topic feels very appropriate for my guest today, Brenda Novak. Brenda is well known for her longtime generous effort to the search for a cure for Diabetes. She is, of course, also a New York Times Bestseller, with more than 35 books written and over 3 million copies sold. She is also a two-time RITA nominee. You can find Brenda at her website, Twitter and Facebook.
Her most recent series, The Bulletproof Trilogy, Inside 6/11, In Seconds 8/11, and In Close 10/11 are all available now and we’ll be giving away 2 copies of Inside today! Serendipitously, her own debut novel, Of Nobel Birth, is currently one sale in e-format.
Now, Brenda will give us her take on developing an author network.
Brenda, did you have an author network of friends before your publication?
Brenda: No. None. Those friends I did have looked down on romance and considered me a "sell out." I remember my "best friend" coming to my first book signing. Not only did she not buy the book--she wouldn't even touch it.
How did you develop your author support network? Where did you find them?
Brenda: I joined RWA, which I didn't know existed until after I'd finished my first book and was ready to start marketing it. Then someone who worked for a non-fiction publishing house in Sacramento mentioned the organization and suggested I attend the annual conference. I owe that person a lot because I credit RWA with providing all the tools I needed in order to get published.
How did you and your author network support each other early in your careers?
Brenda: At first, we critiqued for each other, shared hotel rooms at conferences, celebrated our successes as a group. Sharing information is key in this business, so there was that, too.
How has your support network changes as your career has grown?
Brenda: I've been lucky enough to have a lot of the writing community support my efforts to raise money for diabetes research and consider them all family. I think joining forces in this way has really enhanced my life (more than just my career). I'm not sure the network has changed significantly in other ways. It's sort of like writers join with their own "graduating" class. I'm still friends with those who were trying to break in when I was and we still give support and share information.
How has your friendship with other authors benefited your career?
Brenda: This is huge. It makes what I do so much more fun. I would never want to be an island. I enjoy going to speak at conferences because it puts me in touch with a whole new group of like-minded people, people who love to talk books and writing as much as I do.
What would you suggest new authors do to develop their own network?
Brenda: I think it's imperative to join a writing organization and to get and stay active in it. I think a new writer should also get a web page and start gathering a mailing list.
Have you found social media or conferences more advantageous to developing a supportive author network?
Brenda: Conferences have been a lot more effective for me. There's just no way to replace that one-on-one contact and face time.
If you’re a writer, share one of your favorite ways to build your network of friends.
If you're a reader, tell us about one of the helpful networks in your life and how you keep it going.
All comments enter you to win 1 of 2 copies of the first book in Brenda Novak’s newest series The Bulletproof Trilogy, Inside! Open Internationally.
Joan Swan is a triple RWA® Golden Heart finalist, and a double Kiss of Death Daphne Du Maurier finalist. She writes sexy romantic suspense with a paranormal twist, and her first novel with Kensington Brava debuts April, 2012. Currently, she works as a sonographer at a one of the top ten medical facilities in the nation, and lives in magnificent wine country on the central coast of California with her husband and two daughters. You can find Joan on her website, Twitter and Facebook.