Networking isn’t about getting the most likes or the most friends/followers. Networking is about finding similar writers in your genre and your place in the grand scheme of publication.
What I mean is, someone without a finished book should probably network with people who are working on their drafts with sprinting or bouncing ideas off of them in a particular genre vs someone who has multiple published books and need a more marketing-oriented network.
That doesn’t mean that the two extremes don’t overlap. The groups are fluid. You don’t get to decide what group you are in for others. Your experience and their interaction with you help them decide where to put you, and sometimes that means you’re in both.
How to Find People
Facebook. Twitter. MeWe. Blogs. Any place that you congregate there are people to network with. Search Facebook using phrases like “Writing,” “Romance Writers,” “Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers,” “Sprint Writing,” “Marketing for Authors,” and other key phrases.
One of the first groups you’d discover is Fiction Writing.
It’s a 116k member group with various degrees of writers. Some have the dream of being a writer and some have jumped from dream to reality. You can find some good support in there.
The other group(s) you might find useful are 20booksto50k and the splinter groups that formed.
- https://www.facebook.com/groups/781495321956934/ (Original Group)
- https://www.facebook.com/groups/20CoversTo50k/ (Cover and Blurb Group)
- https://www.facebook.com/groups/20steamybookstosuccess/ (Erotic and 5-alarm Steamy)
- https://www.facebook.com/groups/435033923584979/ (20books Beginner Edition)
The writers who formed 20booksto50k are writers who are making a living at writing. I’m not talking $10k. Try 6-figure writers who take their time to give you a breakdown on what they did. They aren’t a group for those still working on a 1st draft. They will not answer the questions of “does this sound good,” “how do I show instead of tell,” etc.—that’s what Fiction Writing and other writing groups are for. They have an all-star thread pinned to the top of the page, and if you don’t read it and asks a question that is answered in that thread, then you will find that the writers in there are just going to point you back to that thread and turn off comments. They don’t have time to hold your hand. They are a marketing-oriented networking group.
Do not join a group and then spam them. They don’t care who you are—yet.
The key to networking in groups is become a part of that group. Learn who knows their stuff and who are the assholes just looking for a fight. Learn to use the block option for the assholes. You’re busy succeeding; you don’t have time for them.
Engage with People
Answer people’s questions, give encouragement, give your honest opinion, and don’t give a fact-based answer unless you know 100% that is the correct answer.
I see the last one a lot. Editing, Covers, Laws, etc. The correct answer is there by qualified people, and yet there are dozens of others who give the wrong answer because they don’t understand the rules and think just because they do it and haven’t been caught that they are right.
You speed when you drive? It’s a rhetorical question. You speed until either A) You see a cop. B) You get caught. The truth is a majority of drivers drive over the speed limit. The same is true in answering questions, just because you do it that way doesn’t mean it’s the correct way.
Giving wrong answers in the group—not talking about opinion pieces, talking facts—will not win you brownie points. Those with experience and knowledge are going to discount you as a want-to-be instead of someone serious with a passion and drive to do things correctly. You need them to see you as responsible, willing to learn, inquisitive, and trustworthy. A professional.
Don’t get into arguments.
I say this a lot about opinion pieces. People have different opinions and experiences. Those who have to shout/cuss/call you names are probably not the ones you need to be taking advice from. Those who are combative will never make it out of the small pond and into the big pond of success. Don’t engage in a debate with them. State your opinion and move on.
The problem with getting into heated keyboard warrior mode is those who are assholes have the experience to make you look like an idiot and suck up your time. Just because you didn’t retort back doesn’t mean they won. Others see that you didn’t stoop to troll-hood, and that you held yourself to a better standard. That will give you brownie points. People don’t want to work with assholes. They want level-headed people.
As you understand the players in the group, become friends or at least acquaintances with those who write in similar genres as you do.
With these subgroups, share their posts, comment, engage them as a human and not a means to an end. By interacting with them, you’ll see their posts a little more and they’ll see your name a little more. And when you have a book coming out, a sale going on, or you make a new teaser, by having a genuine connection and being someone that they care about now, that subgroup of friends is now your lifeline to getting the word out—for free—to their newsletter subscribers, their FB friends, their FB pages, their groups, retweets, etc.
Networking without the Effort
There isn’t a shortcut for networking, but there’s a difference between active networking, which is 90% of this article and passive networking.
If you know of a few writers, well-known or not, consider sharing their posts commenting on them when you share about why you enjoyed that post, review their works, etc.
Another thing you could look at doing is on others posts—example Buzzfeed posts a “Top 10 Writers” and they might list King or Rowling. You might agree with the list and expand on why you think the list hit the marks. Or maybe an article leaves off your favorite author in a certain genre, and you comment about why you think that author should have made the list.
Just make sure you tag the writers in it. If they see it, they might comment/share, and this opens it up to their followers even more than the simple tag has. This also works on Twitter.
I call this style passive because you aren’t hunting people out to make a lasting connection. You’re reading/reviewing things you already enjoy—possibly—and taking 2 seconds to tag them in it with a thoughtful response.
Networking by Genre Benefits
Networking by genre gives you a huge boost that you don’t get by just friending everyone that writes.
The aisles in a grocery store are divided by similar items, making it easier to find what you want, and that’s essentially what networking by genre has done. You’re not having to comb thousands of readers looking for 1 or 2 that read what you write but you’re there in front of the fans already cultivated by another author, and those readers are fans of the genre.
Another benefit is there are hundreds and hundreds of paid promo options—here’s a list that only covers a small section of that list https://kindlepreneur.com/list-sites-promote-free-amazon-books/.
Depending on the promo, some genres don’t do as well as others. By networking you can go “what promos have you had a positive ROI on?” so you’re not wasting time going through the same master list and flushing money down the toilet.
It also gives you correlation data on a company. Maybe on 4th of July weekend is a bad weekend to have a promo because no one is at their computers, but how would you know that if you didn’t network? Maybe that promo doesn’t work good then but this promo sees amazing holiday sales.
Networking gives you the advantage that you don’t have to trial-and-error everything on your own. It’s a collective of knowledge and experience that is invaluable.
Grow it slowly. Get to know the people in your group because they aren’t just a name on a screen. They will become your support in a way you’d never imagine. I have some that I don’t talk to as often as I like, but I know beyond a doubt that if a corgi meme shows up, I send it to her. If guinea pigs invade my feed, I’m sending them to this guy. Another one has a love of owls similar to my own, and we send things back and forth. And I even have my own personal cat lady. But the point is they are more than just a stepping stone.
To succeed, you need a network, a family that you can rely on to be honest with you and you with them. Writing may be a solitary enjoyment, but marketing and being successful is anything but solitary. Take the time to build your network, and you won’t regret the results.
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This post was edited/proofed by ProWritingAid.