In October I attended my second writer’s conference. It was located in Richmond, Virginia, my home town, right down the road from where I live. One of the key themes discussed during the conference was building relationships. That is, building relationships with your readers, agents, and peers.
It’s easy to get caught up in your own writing. You might spend years bleeding words into a novel, but don’t forget that if people don’t care about you, they probably won’t care about your work.
An example of this is Twitter. I can’t tell you how many people I follow, or follow back, who immediately message me with a link to their work. To be honest, I don’t usually check out anybody’s links until I know the person. Why? Because my time is limited and I’m not going to spend my 15 minutes of free time reading somebody’s hastily-written, self-published book.
Don’t get me wrong, I know there are tons of well-written, self-published books, but odds are the one I pick will not be.
At the conference a panelist said, “Do 5 nice things before asking someone for a favor.” In other words, if you want me to read your stuff, why not jump over to my blog and read something of mine first? At the very least you’d guilt me into returning the favor. 😉
That’s why writing communities are so important. Getting involved with other writers will not only give you ample opportunities to receive and give feedback, but you’ll build relationships that may eventually help sell your book. Free promotion!
A few excellent communities I’ve participated in are Writer’s Carnival and Query Tracker. I’ve also built a few relationships with friendly flash fiction websites, such as 101 Words. Getting out there is the key. Lend support. Ask for help. Be gracious and sincere, and you’ll be rewarded in the end. I hope to improve in this area going forward. My goal is to get more involved with the blogs I follow (time allowing–toddler and infant, you know).
This idea of building relationships extends to finding an agent, and keeping one. Don’t just nag your agent about whether or not they’ve read your ms, call to say hello. (Not too often, of course. Your agent is likely busy.) One panelist at the conference said he calls his agent once a month just to say hi. Through friendly, unselfish interaction, you may find your work edges slightly closer to the top of the pile. I’ve seen agents online say they love receiving thank you cards, or clever memes. Find out what your agent likes, and send them something.
Use social media to actually be social, not push your work onto people.