(Cedar here. I’m sick and slightly incoherent. My dear husband surprised me with something nicer than flowers or chocolates: a post so I wouldn’t have to write one)
Networking, when we think of that word it is usually someone using a network of friends to land a job or contract. We think of it in the realm of business, it can be useful to writers as well. Take today for example. I’m writing this essay on networking because Cedar has been sick for a couple of days and probably won’t be able to write as coherently as she would wish in the morning. While open floors are not unknown here an actual post is preferable, and the schedule doesn’t remember that people get sick. If she does write a Mad Genius Club post this one can go into archives and be pulled out as needed.
Now when I talk about networking for writers there are several areas to network in. This post is from a personal support network. If Cedar wasn’t stubborn about getting well “NOW” she has any number of writing friends that would be happy to do a post for her. Some of them because they are smart enough to be doing their own networking and others because they want a little exposure. Oddly enough those are both the same group, the second one just doesn’t realize it.
Now what kinds of networks should a writer cultivate? I’m not sure. A lot depends on the aims and situation of the individual. Someone who plans to be traditionally published eventually needs to network with editors, while someone who has sworn never to go through a traditional house might not, or so they think. After all, different networks of editors exist and some of them can be vital to the indie author. I’ll tell you some of the networks I’ve seen and why they work. Note, I am not a real writer, just someone who can write and does so on occasion. I am closely networked to a number of them and have been observing.
Ok, first thing to do is figure out which networks you need. If you are a WriterPseudocoffeehousis then all the network you need is the social group you are trying to impress. If you are someone who writes and the stuff will never be finished or seen you don’t even need that much. If you actually finish things and are willing for them to be seen you need more.
Your first, and ultimately most important network is your fans. Fans talk about authors they like and do grassroots promotion. But, but, but I don’t have any fans you wail? Wrong. You have fans, or at least potential fans, they are your seed. Ultimately, if you are successful as a writer this network will consists of thousands, possibly millions of fans, right now that number may be much smaller. Ok, that “may be” is in case someone Like Larry Correia or John Ringo reads this blog. For more normal humans it will be much smaller.
Who makes up this network of fans I was talking about everyone having? Well it depends. Even if you are extremely reclusive you still have your mother, or possibly the old harridan down the street that is thrilled every time you kick the neighbor’s yappy poodle. I can’t say for your exact situation. For most of us the network of fans consists of family and friends at the very basis. Now if you are on social media you will probably have a potential fan base among them. And every one of them is hoping for your success as an author. They all want to be able to name drop that they are good buddies with the next JK Rowling.
Still that is a few hundred at best for most of us, we don’t have such huge networks unless we have had a lot of success already. This is why a John Ringo will have a waiting list of people wanting to friend him and a newbie is sending out friend requests to anyone they think might have some influence with someone who has influence. And those newbies are correct in a way. The larger number of readers on your friend lists the higher likelihood that some of them will buy your work when published.
There are other ways to build your fan base, even if you are not publishing anything soon, if ever. Guest blogging on a blog with followers can get you exposure and, if they like what you write, fans. Starting your own blog can be another way. I’m no expert on building your fan base, but I know it is something that needs multiple approaches. You can even go my route and marry into a fan base.
Above all you need to be interesting to people. Whether in your actual life or in your public writings. I have become aware that I have a fan base. I’m not really sure how I got one, other than the previously mentioned marriage, but I have one. I developed it by making snarky comments and writing guest blogs with a bit of bitter edge to them. Do not think that snark and bitterness are the way to build a fanbase. Those things work for me in a small way. They would not work for someone else, or maybe they would, thing is, your way of building must suit your personality, not someone else’s. I know of a middling famous author who has horrible personal problems because of the way he chose to build his fan base. He is a tea and crumpets kind of guy who keeps meeting fangirls who think he is a whips and chains type.
So, now you know that you must network your fans, what other networks do you need? Well let’s go back to those editors I mentioned earlier. If you want to be traditionally published networking editors is very useful. If your manuscript comes across the desk of an editor and she remembers that you are the one who gallantly laid your cloak across the puddle so that she wouldn’t get her shoes muddy she will automatically look with more favor upon your work. On the other hand, if he remember you pinching his butt just before throwing up in his lap you will probably get a less favorable look. This includes public positions taken. A sad puppy will have a higher bar to cross with a Tor editor than Joe Nameless who made no waves.
Now for Indies who are sitting there saying “I don’t need an editor network I’m publishing through Amazon” you are dead wrong. You probably need an editor network more than the traditional guys do. The biggest complaint in bad reviews for indies is usually the editing. Now a lot of that is people finding typos. If the book were traditionally published they wouldn’t even notice the typos. Much traditional publishing contains typos worse than much indie work, you’ll still get the complaints. You need a copy editor, period. I don’t care how much of a Grammar Nazi you are, you will miss stuff in your own work. The copy editor won’t catch all of them either, but it will help. You may also need a structure editor. Some people can write clearly and tell a complete story without needing a structure editor. Most can’t. What a structure editor can do is find that gaping hole in your logic that has the Evil Overlord being so incompetent at something he has already proven competent at. Now it might be that he is just having a blond moment, if so you have to show that. This is where the structure editor can help.
Now that I have shown that you need an editor or two, why do you need to network them? Why can’t you just hire one from their ad on FailBook and be done? Well all editors are not created equal. And if the one you have been using is busy for the next two years, well, you need to find another one. A network that includes editors will help you find one that does copy editing, maybe a structural editor. More importantly a good network will help you avoid the incompetent. Many people talk a good game at various skills, most of them aren’t all that good. Even if someone is a good copy editor normally, they might be horrible for you. There is a possibly apocryphal story about one of the early twentieth century editors, Ring Lardner I think, memory is failing me now. A copy editor went through and corrected all his spelling and grammar on a story. Made it unreadable. He wrote in the vernacular and his slang made the stories.
So find a good editor network and join it, find your fanbase network and expand it. Find all your networks and work them. It may or may not help your writing, It’ll damned sure help your business side.
Speaking of networking, there is a new book out you may want to check out:
So it begins…
Jade is determined to die. She is old, and feels useless, when she points her tiny subspace craft at the cold stars. She wakes up in the care of others who refuse to grant her death, and instead give her a new mission in life complete with a new body.
Jade isn’t happy, and she only gets angrier when she learns that her mysterious new home hides a horrible secret. It’s time for this old lady to kick butt and take names. Aliens, death, destruction… nothing trumps the fierce old woman who is protecting her family.