Have you ever felt like you needed help with your writing process, but didn't know where to turn? Perhaps you’re new to this writing thing, or you've been too scared to tell anyone what you’re working on.
Or, if you’re like me, you’ve spent so much time in the writing process, so much time writing, editing, pitching, and educating yourself on the process that you truly believe you’ve done all you can possibly do on your own.
What should you do now?
Networking is Not a Dirty Word
No one likes the word “network” because it seems inauthentic, difficult, and something that extroverts do.
But it works.
This weekend I spoke to one of my close friends who is working on a non-fiction book. She’s never written professionally and is completely new to this field. Yet in the few short months since our last visit she became well-versed in how the industry works and had set up meetings with some prominent writers and people in the publishing industry.
All because she unabashedly tapped into her network.
I was impressed—and a little jealous. But there’s no reason I (and you) can’t do what she did.
3 Ways to Network, Even If You're a Shy Writer
Not sure how to get started networking? Not sure you're even capable of networking as a shy writer? Here are three ways any writer can network, shy or not:
1. Use Alumni Databases
This was my biggest takeaway from my visit with my friend. She secured some high-profile meetings simply by conducting searches on our college’s alumni database. I knew it existed, but it never occurred to me to actually use it!
Alumni databases are great because people want to see their fellow alums succeed. Worst case scenario they ignore your email. Best case, they give you some valuable advice.
So chat with a professional writer. Catch up with someone who works in marketing at a publishing house. Talk to someone face to face.
The Write Practice and other blogs can be incredibly helpful in learning about the process, but there’s nothing like a real-life conversation with a fellow alum.
2. Go to Writers Conferences and Workshops
The first time I went to one, I met so many people who were working on their first novels. It was great to talk to fellow writers who understood what I was trying to do (and could help).
First, think about the issue you’re having. Are you having trouble getting started? Pitching agents for the first time? Wondering what direction to go with your piece?
Then, find the right venue.
A conference is better for gaining a broad understanding of the writing process, not to mention the publishing process.
Conferences are also probably the best bet for pitching agents. That said, not all conferences are the same so make sure yours will have panels on pitching agents or agents in attendance, if that's what you're looking for.
I think writing workshops make the most sense if you’re struggling with your manuscript because you can get in-depth feedback on your work from other writers.
3. Talk to Friends
Tell your friends what you're doing. Tell your family members that you're stuck.
Even if they aren't writers, they still know people who you don't—and they may be able to connect you to them. But they won't be able to help you if you don't tell them what's going on.
It's scary to share with the world that you're writing a book, but I really believe it's one of the best things you can do for your project.
What do you do when you're stuck? Have you ever tried to network as a writer? Let us know in the comments!
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