I’ve done posts before about building your platform by using Twitter and Facebook and other forms of social media, so I hope you have that aspect down pat by now! It’s important to build a fan base if you want to be able to sell books, but it’s equally important to make professional connections and get involved with the writer/reviewer community.
The Internet and social media make it easy to find fellow authors and learn from them but besides authors you should be looking for reliable book bloggers, editors, cover artists, marketing folks, small press publishers (if you’re undecided between going the Indie route and traditional, small press is often a happy medium), brutally honest beta readers, etc.
So you’ve gone and scoured the net , finding all of these people. Good job! Now, what to do with them? This is when you get involved. If you’re following blogs, be sure to read them. I get we all have busy lives and families and it’s hard to get to every single post, but you can set up a (RSS) feed to have your blog posts delivered to one place (so to speak) and you can scan the titles and pick the ones that catch your eye to read. If you notice someone is involved in a blog hop, look to see how you can join in the fun! If someone is planning on doing a release soon, see if you can help them with a cover reveal or post a snippet of their work. If you don’t have a blog of your own, there’s always Twitter. Remember, no two people have the same exact followers and while you may have a couple of people overlapping with the other author, chances are you have more folks they’re not following, therefore you would be helping them reach a larger audience. If you help your fellow authors, there’s a pretty good chance they’ll be happy to lend a hand when you need it as well.
There’s a whole lot going on out there and a lot of groups who are looking to help promote authors (especially Indie authors!) so Google for groups, looking for forums and be a steady participant. The best you can anyway. The more you’re around participating, the better others get to know you and become interested in your work and recommend you to others. What more could you want? I mean besides a lot of sales and recognition…but those could come as you expand your reach!
While a lot of this networking can be done online, don’t forget that there are opportunities in the “real” world as well! Check your local library or bookstore for monthly writing groups. They are often looking for fresh meat…uhh new authors to hear their work and critiques. It will help to read your work out loud and get instant feedback. Even if you’re shy you should give it a try because what happens if you have to do a reading/signing someday? Might as well get practice in when you can! There are often writing groups in your county/state that will set up talks with other authors on how to write queries or find a publisher, etc. Many of these talks are free or only charge a small fee. I highly suggest attending some. They are often very informative and can help on your journey. They might also run workshops you won’t want to miss. If they have an email newsletter, be sure to subscribe!
I bet there are more opportunities out there, you just have to do a little digging. I bet it’ll be easier than you think so don’t just brush it off and think “I don’t need to network more, I have one thousand Twitter followers!” You need to be an active participant in the community if you want to thrive in the profession.
What do you do to expand your professional network?