Thursday, May 20, 2010

Everyday NetWorking- It's Who You Know

I don't know about you, but the thought of networking used to make me want to cry myself to sleep at night. What would I do when I was published? How would I know how to go about it? When that golden contract landed in my lap and I had to go hustle endorsements, WHAT WAS I GOING TO DO?????

Now, first I want to make it plain, that I am not published. I don't have a contract and I don't have an agent, but what I do have are friends and my own personality. So take it with a grain of salt and hopefully the realizations I have learned lately will be an encouragement for you. : )

First of all what is networking? It is surrounding yourself with a group of contacts in your area of expertise that can help and support you and give you a boost up that ever growing ladder of publication we all long to climb. They are the ones that help get your foot in the door, the ones that endorse, the ones that do battle with editors and agents to get you rolling.

But how do you get them? Or you might even be asking yourself, "Oh, publication is so far away, I don't need to do that!"

But I don't think there is never a better time than the present. And that frankly is what used to scare me so much. No longer.

I am very much a people person and love to make friends. I love to surround myself with godly people and get to know each and every one.

Whenever I win a book I always try to get a thank you back to the author. Out of those contacts based purely on my love for their fiction, have grown some wonderful friendships. We have grown familiar of each other through our blogs and emails. Familiar enough that I would be comfortable emailing these wonderful ladies and maybe someday asking them to endorse my book.

Now, before you get me wrong, I DO NOT email authors with motives of someday getting something in return. I do it because I want to see the authors supported and let them know just how much I value them. And in the process I have been blessed with some pretty incredible correspondence.

So networking tip #1: spend some time getting to know your favorite authors. Even if NOTHING comes of it than a chance to support them, you are building a relationship that you may someday look back on as a starting point for your own writing. Generally speaking if you read an author's work, you would like to write like them, to a certain extent.

Another tip: while you have the time and energy, blog. Blog often and continuously. Blogging has become so popular today and it is one of my favorite pastimes. When I blog, I am not only developing relationships with my faithful readers, I am also developing a readership. Of the 138 followers on Writing for Christ If God willing I get a book published someday, they will be the first people I will present my book to. And many of my review friends will get a book to review.

So networking tip #2: develop a readership with blogging. You can do that by blogging a lot and on subjects dear to your heart and readers. Readers will see your passion on the screen and will most likely return for more.

Final tip #3: attend writer's workshops. I recently attended a class with author Susan May Warren and leading literary agent, Chip MacGregor. Wow, what an experience. I really loved every minute I got to spend with Susie and Chip and the rest of the attendees. And while nothing came of that class, like signing with MacGregor Literary agency, : ), I got to meet both a big name author face to face AND a big name agent and spend time with them. I even ate breakfast with Chip and his wife. And no, I didn't pitch my book, I was too petrified of being cut to ribbons in the execution (not that Chip would have you understand).

But Chip and Susie now both associate my name and my face and my writing abilities (oh scary thought). I have met Chip, spoken with him and in doing that I have gotten my foot wedged a tiny bit in the door. Because one of their requirements at MacGregor Literay Agency is before they even think about representing you, they want to have met you personally or have been recommended.

So, networking tip #3: meet agents and editors just for the sake of meeting them. Shake their hand, talk, visit, eat breakfast with them : ), but generally be friendly and yourself. It's not hard and it doesn't hardly take any energy.

When this blog was started, Pepper was the one to email me. She was so much braver than I to just email a complete stranger out of the blue (well, okay I knew she would email after chatting on her blog) but she was networking, getting to know other writers and gaining friends on this journey of learning. I have been blessed by her stepping out in faith and blessed abundantly with four lovely ladies who also write here that are willing to put up with me. : )

All of these things you can do right now without even thinking about it. I didn't set out in writing authors to gain friends, but I have (love you guys!!) and maybe someday they will be willing to help me out. If not, that's okay, because I have been blessed by their friendship. Their determination to write has fueled my own. Their stories of struggling and perseverance have pushed me to continue trying my hardest.

When I started blogging, I had no idea that in less than a year, God would bless me with 138 followers! But they are getting to know me, I them, and in the end that could prove so very useful. If not, the journey has been fantastic anyway!

That class in April was so very helpful, and maybe someday will prove profitable too. When I finally have a completed novel, I might be able to walk up to Chip and go, "will you read this?" or "can I tell you about this story?" and he might be more willing to sit down and visit than if I were a complete stranger. If not, you know what, it was pretty neat to meet one of the top guns in the industry. : )

So, go forth and network! Don't be petrified, it's really a lot easier than it sounds!

Have any other ideas for me? I would love to chat more with you in the comment section. : )


Unknown said...

Networking and marketing intimidate me a little. These are great tips!

Casey said...

I know ME TOO, Julie, but I don't think it is as big a deal as it is made out to be. And taking baby steps along the way instead of giant leaps will help in the long run, I think. :) Thanks for taking the time to read this!! Have a great day. :)

Laura Frantz said...

Casey, You really do know your stuff here! I treasure the thank you notes you've sent me. Do you know how rare that is!? And you have such a gift for encouragement as evidenced by your blogs and writing life and godly networking. All that blessing eventually rolls right back to you:) God bless you. Great post!

Casey said...

THANK YOU LAURA!! That means so much to me, you were one of the ladies I was thinking of when I was writing this. YOU bless me and I am honored to know you. :)

Keli Gwyn said...

These are great tips, Casey. I like your approach to networking. If our goal is making mutually beneficial connections, both parties in an interaction gain.

I like to contact authors and tell them what I like about their books. I used to think they'd see my reviews on Amazon, Christianbook, or one of the other three places I post them, but I learned that not all authors read those reviews because there can be some that are pretty hard to take, because they just don't have the time, or because of a number of other reasons.

I emailed one author whose book I loved, told her what I liked about it, and shared the text of my review. I'd taken time to do a bit of research about her and her writing journey, which enabled me to personalize my email. In addition, since she had a sequel coming out, I offered a hint on the use of a foreign word she'd misspelled because I speak some of the language and didn't want to see her make the same mistake in book two.

The author was so grateful for my email and my help that she offered to endorse my debut novel when I sell it. When I wrote her, all I had in mind was supporting her, and she turned around and gave me an incredible gift. I know it's sincere, because she's repeated her offer in subsequent emails. What an unexpected blessing.

Networking works!

Casey said...

Keli! That is great! I just love to contact authors period. And like I said if something ever comes of it, then that would be AWESOME, if not, it's AWESOME anyway when the authors become real people beyond the back cover bio. Laura being one of them. Both her and Julie Lessman are an inspiration to me and that alone makes our contact so worth it. :)

Pepper said...

Oh Casey,
You are TOOOOO sweet. This endeavor has blessed me too. what a great group we have!

Networking! know, it happens on the blogs, from our websites, from commenting on other people's blogs, AND from visiting conferences. Wow, you meet loads of people there, and they are great contacts - just for fun and information, not to mention knowing there are people who might actually READ you when you get published. (Note - I said WHEN. I walk by faith and not by sight, ladies ;-)

Thanks for the great post. I hope to be back on my blogging schedule tomorrow :-)

Mary Vee Writer said...

Networking squeezes the shyness out of us!
We writers like to be hermits or only surrounded with our characters. But once you catch the fever of're hooked.
Great article, Casey:)

Casey said...

LOL Pepper, that is why I LOVE going to those things and I only have been to one. :P Just getting out there and getting noticed is what this business is all it's about. Even writing book reviews to show people how you write, helps with developing a readership. Hmm. I should have mentioned that point! :) Good to have you back!

Casey said...

I agree Mary! I love to contact people and meet new writer friends. It makes the journey less lonely. :)

Karen Lange said...

Great tips! This thing called blogging - I had no idea what was ahead when I began a little over a year ago. It's been a blessed and wonderful ride, and I've met so many great people.
Have a good weekend,

Casey said...

I agree Karen. I started blogging because I wanted to, but wasn't prepared with the overwhelming reply to my blogs. It was truly God insprired and I thank Him for that. There are some great bloggers out there for sure!