Myself and Louise Cusack at the QWC Christmas party. www.qwc.asn.au
Before you’re published you focus on learning your craft and achieving that big sale. Then suddenly you’re published and you have to network.
Why? Because so much depends on who you know and what they are planning. Its about being out there, hearing about opportunities and putting yourself forward. All this is really hard if you’re like me, happier shut way in your back room communing with your characters via a keyboard. But if I hadn’t heard about the Dreaming Down-Under anthology opening up and put myself forward, I would never have had a story in an anthology that won World Best Fantasy.
It is 9.30pm on Tuesday night here, in Australia and tonight was the Queensland Writers Centre Christmas party. The QWC is one of the most pro-active writers centres in Australia. I might be a bit biased because I did serve on the management committee for three years and I’ve been a member for over 10 years. But I try to get along to the QWC functions so I can catch up with the people in my local scene.
Living in Brisbane, Australia makes it really hard to network. (I can hear Dave Freer groaning because he lives in South Africa). We only have one publisher in Brisbane and they concentrate on literary books. The major publishers are based in Melbourne and Sydney and there aren’t that many that publish in my genre.
Attending conventions is a good way to network. When ever World Con gets to Australia I make sure I go and so does every other spec fic author in the country. At World Con 1999 I was at a a cocktail party which was like a shark feeding frenzy, all that circulating and networking!
But attending a Con in the US or the UK is a really big step for me. I was lucky enough to get an Arts Queensland grant to go to the Glasgow World Con in 2005. This was where I met John Jarrold in person and he offered to represent me. There is nothing like meeting someone face to face. It makes it much easier to communicate via email later.
Panels, festivals, conventions … I’ve met so many writers over the years. Charming, intelligent, fun, we all share one thing, no matter what genre we write in, we do it because we love it.
Now I’m going to retreat into the private world of my latest work-in-progress and put the black cocktail dress aside until I need it next time.