Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Networking for Writers - Guest Post by Brandy Schillace



First, I want to thank you, Sharon, for hosting me as a guest on your blog. It is my pleasure to be here!

Today, I’d like to revisit a concept that has been turning up with regularity on the Fiction Reboot: networking. It’s an odd little word. To some, it sounds as exciting as balancing the checkbook; to others, it smacks of a time-consuming foray into shark-infested waters.

I spend a lot of time explaining networks it seems—partly because I live in the hinterlands between fiction and the academy. I teach everything from Gothic literature to business writing, but I am also the faculty mentor for the novel-writing club. Networking tends to mean different things to different people, but I have found in each situation the positive aspects remain constant. My definition of networking? Not sharks. Not accounting. People-facing.

Right, you say, that makes even less sense. But think about it. Most social networks (not just the online sort, but in general), are all about putting faces with names—and remembering them. What you do after that is up to you, but here are some ways this can work for the intrepid fiction writer.

Most authors—me included—want to be published. We desire to reach a larger audience. But of course, most of us have smaller audiences first. The friend, the spouse, mom…the roommate, the club-member, the workshop partner… these are our first lines of contact. Almost every author I have interviewed has said the same thing: you cannot write in a vacuum. These people give you their real experiences, and you give back. It’s like a game where everyone wins.

You could leave it there, but the next step leaves the immediate circle and moves outward. Author and screenwriter Stephen Gallagher (Bedlam Detective) spoke with the Fiction Reboot a while back, and he suggested that young writers seek out “the major non-professional club or society” devoted to their genre and join. “Get the newsletters,” he recommends, “log into the forums, join in the correspondence, then get yourself along to conventions and meet the people you've been talking to. You'll be mixing with the authors, editors and critics of both today and tomorrow.”

Up to this point, your “people-facing” has been literally a face-to-face kind of contact in the main. But you can move further still. Social networks like Facebook and Twitter are a new and exciting resource for authors. I have always been inspired by the blog of Lucienne Diver, author and agent (Vamped, the Latter Day Olympians). Her excellent advice and tweets have shaped my own blog, and so—though I have never met her face to face—she is someone in my “network” who has been very influential. I had the chance to interview her for the Fiction Reboot, and I asked her about her own experiences with social media. They can be useful platforms, and Luienne also mentioned the power of group blogs and contests “for helping spread the word” about a series. There is the added benefit of incidental advertising, too; that is, if someone tweets that they love the book, others may want to read it to. As Lucienne reminds us, “word-of-mouth” is still the biggest seller of books…and really, Twitter is a kind of word-of-mouth epidemic.

If you are a new writer, or even a well-established one, networking can be a powerful way of finding new readers, new colleagues, and new friends. We need the critical viewpoint of other people in order to succeed—people who will give us hints toward success, people who will tell us where we might have erred, people who will support us and promote us. I certainly crave that kind of connection as an author—and I try to foster it as a teacher. Is it daunting? I suppose it can be—but if you begin close to home, you can build your platform as you go, adding pieces along the way: friends, writing group, societies, conferences, social networks, fiction blogs… and, we hope, the publishing lists.

Welcome to the network!

BIO

Brandy Schillace (PhD) is the author of the Fiction Reboot blog, which features new fiction, hosts author interviews and provides writing advice. (Recent authors include Alex Grecian, Stepahnie A Smith and Stephen Gallagher). She is the author of two YA-crossover Gothic series as well as an adult mystery saga (chapters published serially on the blog). In her other life, Dr. Schillace is a medical humanist scholar of eighteenth-century and Gothic/Romantic literature with interests in gender studies, creative writing and intersections of medicine and literature.  Presently an Assistant Professor of English at Winona State University, she also serves as the Managing Editor (ME) of Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry, an international journal of cross-cultural health research. She has published essays on the history of medicine, Gothic literature and women’s education.

LINKS

Follow Brandy on twitter @bschillace
Blog: bschillace.wordpress.com
Website: http://course1.winona.edu/bschillace/

The Witchwood at Nob’d End
(http://bschillace.wordpress.com/fiction/)

The Jacob Maresbeth Chronicles
(http://bschillace.wordpress.com/maresbeth-chronicles/)

Here Comes Troubelle
(http://bschillace.wordpress.com/here-comes-troubelle/)

3 comments:

  1. Great interview and great tips. And I so agree with the putting yourself out there to meet - even if virtually - other writers and folks in the field. It's been a huge help to me.

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  2. Authors,particularly indie authors need to realize that they are in the business of promoting their book and every opportunity to connect with potential readers and other like minded individuals who can refer or recommend their book is an important opportunity. I had business cards made with a picture of my book, ISBN#, contact info and purchase information. These are perfect to hand to someone after you have had a conversation about your book so that they can be sure to order or learn more. I am the author of "Turn Your Business Card Into Business". http://businesscardtobusiness.com so am a great believe in offline and online networking.

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  3. Awesome post! We (as writers) can no longer sit in our caves. Networking is almost as important as writing. I believe goodreads is a great place to meet people and the forums are very active among other social networks! Thanks Sharon and Brandy...I am now following!

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