Becoming a social bunny… From the comfort of your couch
Most of us writers are painfully shy. For me, my level of being an introvert is probably almost clinical. I have literally gone an entire week without setting foot outside. What’s so important in the mail box any? Bills? Nah, they can wait. *grin*
So when I was told I’d need to network, the sooner the better, something inside me seized up. My palms became clammy, my heart began to race. Me, socialize? What if they hated me? What if I was rejected at every turn? What if… no one replied to anything I posted? All the thoughts were appalling and rather pathetic. I didn’t need help anyway, I could do this writing thing on my own! Sound familiar? I hate to be the one to tell you this, but I was wrong, and if you’re currently in this stage (which I hope for your sake you’re not) then you’re wrong too.
I was forced into the scary world of other writers when I received a personalized rejection letter from an agent. It was written in some kind of strange code, and I figured other authors would know what this woman was trying to say. Things like POV and showing vs telling where all new terms to me. Thankfully several people did. I was also informed I needed to find myself a mentor, preferably someone who was published, and a critique partner.
The critique partner and I sort of found each other, thanks to this group. And we helped each other the best we could for a good while, until we both realized we were sort of stuck. So, again, with sweaty palms and a racing heart and the crippling fear of peer rejection, I submitted to a critique group. Shockingly (well I was certainly surprised!) I was accepted. Now I found myself with not just one published mentor, but over a dozen! Wow! My writing grew by leaps and bounds.
Eventually, thanks to my many talented mentors/critique partners, my work became good enough to be published. Another huge WOW! Only, they gave me a little bad news. I had to start networking for real, not just from the safety of my group and writing friends. I’d have to put myself out there again, and not just in front of dozens of writers, but hundreds if not thousands. *gulp*
Thankfully though, the internet has made this once nightmarish task, not so scary. I could hide behind my cover art (which is just lovely) and, if I so chose, a pen name. That sort of made the introvert in me peek my head from my shell. I set up a Facebook account and joined a marketing group for writers, along with my author loops through my publishers. Let the networking begin! With another writer, I set up a blog tour and posted an open invitation for authors to use my blog to showcase their stories once a week. The turnout was unbelievable. What was I ever so scared of?
Then, one day, I sat back and realized, through my writing groups, the amazing writers I’d met through blog tours and on those author loops, I knew a few people one truly wants to be friends with as a writer. I’d touched elbows with a really talented cover artist, who encouraged and critiqued my early attempts at cover art. I know two acquiring editors, two content editors and the owner of a press. These amazing women do not hesitate to look something over when I’m having trouble with a manuscript and need to know what may be wrong and what direction I should be going to make it a success. They aren’t scary or evil, they’re sweet and helpful. The level of support I received from complete strangers is amazing, all because we’re both writers and the NEED to support each other is so great. I am often moved to tears by their kind words when I need a virtual hug and their congratulations when I need someone to jump up and down with me and scream in delight.
If you haven’t started networking yet because you’re scared, like I was, then let me assure you, you have NO idea what you’re missing or how much you could be holding yourself back. There’s nothing difficult about networking with authors, we want to be there for you, we want to help! At one point or another we all needed a high level of guidance that can only be given from veterans in this scary world of writing. I still need that guidance, truth be told. So don’t hesitate a second longer. Start small if you must, but start, right now! Go out and meet these wonderful writers who are just waiting to extend a helping hand and a show of support.
Having discovered a passion for writing at an early age, thanks to a teacher, Elaina has been weaving tales ever since. The mother of a toddler and a teenager, and the wife of a soldier, life is never boring in her house. When she’s not doling out kisses for bumps on the head or pats on the back for a job well done (both the husband and the teenager seem to require this), she’s designing cover art or writing. You can find Elaina at – http://www.elainalee.com/, elaina-lee.blogspot.com, and www.facebook.com/ElainaLeeAuthor.
Readers, Elaina is giving away a ecopy of Written in Blood to a lucky commenter. To enter the contest, you first need to leave a question or comment for Elaina. Then to complete your entry, you must either leave your email address in your comment or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The winner needs to be over the age of 18. The contest will end on Sunday, April 17.