Thursday, April 12, 2018

Can You Expand Your Network?

You’ve heard it said over and over again. You’ve probably said it yourself.

“The book business is hard. The market is impossible right now.”

Believe me when I say I get it.

But you know what ISN’T hard about the industry? Particularly if you’re involved in CBA?

The community. The comraderie. The kinship.

Because as hard as it is when a house you love has, realistically speaking, one debut author spot available every one to two years— the fellowship you can find among other writers makes up for the longevity of the challenge.

Are you making the most of this fellowship? Of your network?

Today I want to talk about three main ways you can expand your networking reach (in more corporate terms)— regardless of how many, if any, books you’ve sold.

  • Network up. I don’t mean suck up. These relationships need to be organic to be effective. So find authors— even editors and agents— whom you respect, and make yourself teachable. Useful. I have honestly lost count of the number of authors— some extremely well-known— who have cheered me on, picked me up when I’ve faced disappointment, and have also taught me practical skills and industry knowledge. So write reviews for people. Sign up for paid critiques at conferences. Don’t fake it, but if you loved an author’s story, tell the author!
  • Network out. No one understands the ups and downs of the industry like someone in the trenches with you. That’s why I am so thankful for the Alley Cats. I really can’t kmagine this journey without them. Do you have a group of peers you go to for thoughts, empathy, celebration? Or do you spend most of your efforts networking up— or perhaps targeting readers? If you don’t have a group of writing friends, try going to a conference or joining a critique group. This journey is just too challenging to attempt solo.
  • Network down. No, I do not mean that as condescending as it may sound. 😂 But as you walk this journey a while, you begin to learn things. Remember the authors further down the road who helped you out? Be that author to someone else. Ask God how He wants to use you to mentor and encourage someone who needs it— someone, perhaps, unknown and brand new to writing. Keep the good vibes going.

I’d encourage you to consider where you spend most of your networking time— up, out, or down. Could you diversify to expand your own audience and help others in the process? 


kaybee said...

Ashley, these are good points and something we almost have to do with the industry in constant flux. I like your second and third points. It's a crazy business and in Christian writing, there's no room for jealousy or competition. Operate from a position of abundance, even if you're not there yet.
Kathy Bailey

Bryan J. Fagan said...

We do have a lot of choices and there is no excuse for finding support. The key is to be supportive to others as well. Listen and learn and be an overall good person. Once your reputation sets in a nice support group will be there for you. Excellent tips. Thank you.