Continuing with my notes from the 20BooksEdinburgh conference, I’m going to cover a topic that came late on the second day – BIG MISTAKE – this should have been the opening presentation!
I know it would have been helpful to me. Put me in front of a large audience, and I can lecture just fine. But if I try to talk to someone I don’t know, and without even an introduction? Not so good.
As authors, many of us are timid, insular, shy, retiring. In general, we’d rather be sitting with a keyboard and screen in front of us than another live person, and yet networking with like-minded individuals can be both productive, and a good way of opening our eyes to the possibilities of socialising, in the good, old-fashioned sense of face-to-face talking to real people.
The wonderful speakers at the 20Books conference generously shared their presentation slides with us, and I’m going to endeavour to pass on a lot of what Jonathan Brazee and Kevin McLaughlin had to offer.
All good common sense, huh?
Networking can be a great way to find opportunities, such as:
- Cross-promotions (e.g. email list swaps)
- Joint book bundles
- Get short stories into anthologies
- Learn about conferences
One of the major principles of networking with other authors underlines the 20Books ethos – if you can be helpful to another author, do it! We can all help to inspire each other, and you never know what you may get in return when you give willingly. Of course, it isn’t about expecting to get something back, but if we are all generous, everyone wins.
Where to network?
There are hundreds of events each year where you can meet other authors: conferences, book signings, festivals etc., and you can’t attend them all, so pick the ones that offer the highest value, in terms of potential author to author (or editor, or agent) meetings. If you can, also aim for events with other values as well: ability to make sales, meet readers, learn new things.
And then, of course, there is the internet! All those Facebook groups, forums, author groups, writer’s organisations etc. offer yet more opportunities to make connections.
Personally, I have found blogging to be an excellent route to making new author contacts and friends.
So, how do we go about networking?
- Ask people what they are working on – people love to talk about themselves
- Find out if there is anything you can do to help them
- If you can, do it!
- Volunteering at events is a great way to meet people
- Write something interesting on your badge (“Ask me how I can help you…”)
- If you want to join a group of people already talking, pick a group of 3 – one will be less engaged than the other pair and more willing to strike up a conversation
- Practice ACTIVE LISTENING
- Carry business cards but don’t offer them unless asked – try asking for theirs first
- Take notes on each card you collect to jog your memory
- After the event, follow up on contacts you made asap, while it is still fresh in everyone’s minds
- Remember – relationships take time to build but have the potential to pay dividends
Any other tips?