We’ve all heard the saying, “It’s not what you know it’s who you know” and sadly that is true for writing too. How many writer lectures have you been to where the writer was given a “lucky break” by speaking to a friend who knew a producer, publisher or agent? I can think of dozens. It’s a very rare person who get’s an agent from scratch these days – though it is possible!
But is networking a good way of generating contacts or not and where should you go?
Writing conferences and lectures and courses are a great way to meet other writers, but frankly you’re all in the same boat, so unless you happen to meet a lucky writer who has an agent, or develop a relationship with someone who then finds one – it won’t get you very far.
Which means, as well as mixing with unpublished writers you need to be looking further afield.
1) Writer signings
I’m not talking about the famous ones here. If you queue up to get J.K. Rowling to sign a book, she’s hardly going to have the time to give you a contact at bloomsbury!
However – local writers are a different matter altogteher. They generally have shorter queues, are more willing to talk and still interested in helping other new writers “break” into the field as they often had a leg up themselves. Don’t discount them because they aren’t “big”. They’ve still got further then you have (to that illusive first contract) and so they’re still better connected then you!
Make sure you attend any local readings/lectures they have, get to know them and see if they are willing to help you.
2) Business networking
You might think business networking is a ludicrous way to general contacts – but scoff all you like, I’ve been in a business networking group for 2 years now, and in that time I’ve landed a contract to write e-books for a local entrepreneur, been asked to write custom written games for venues and met a publisher who would actually give me the time of day, and probably help me with contacts should I eventually get a book up to publishable standards.
I’ve also met other writers who visit the group who do copywriting – paid work, and also a story writer who writes people’s biographies – again PAID.
So while business networking may seem a bizzare way to set out – think beyond the people in the room to the contacts they may be willing to share with you and give it a go.
Publishers have tradeshows just like any other companies – sometimes you’ll find them all under one roof. Take a walk, browse the stands and if you can, strike up a conversation – you might get on with someone like a house on fire and they might be willing to look at your work!
4) Work your contacts
As well as our immediate friends we all have people we know through social media like twitter and facebook these days – so speak to them.
Obviously you don’t just want to “follow” them and then pitch straight away – an immediate turn off to anyone who’s busy and managed to work their way up their field.
Instead – get to know them. Chat, don’t pitch. Once you have built up that relationship – THEN speak to them about a project.
5) YOUR BLOG!
Your blog or website is THE singular most important thing you need to maintain as an unpublished author. For many new contacts it’s the first thing they’ll take a look at.
It needs to be:
a) Easy to read
c) Clear – with a list of your achievements in the writing field and also what you’re working on.
d) Personal. By this I mean – a photograph. People deal with people. It’s a known fact. Avatars are all very well, but they aren’t you.
What will sell your work in the end isn’t the work itself but you. It’ll be you that will eventually meet with people to pitch your work, so have a personality, be visible and get noticed.