It’s hard to network when no one knows who you are. How do you network as a new writer? How do you market yourself before you have a debut novel?
Approximately 80% of our clients are in this position. They might have a few bylines, they may have a writing account on TikTok or Twitter. They definitely don’t yet have industry connections that will lead to a fulfilling writing career.
If this sounds familiar, then this blog post is for you.
What is Conquer Books?
Before we put you on the path to cringe-free networking, let us tell you who we are and how we help writers, especially new writers.
We’re book coaches Rebecca Zornow and Nicole Van Den Eng.
We specialize in science fiction and fantasy manuscripts. Our goal is to combine great editing services with career and author coaching. If you’re new here, we suggest you sign up for our newsletter and get our free guide 25 Questions to Ask your Manuscript.
What's your goal?
If you’re in the pre-publishing stage, you might wonder if networking yourself as an writer is worth your time. If you don’t have a book to peddle, why shout into the void?
The writing industry is built on great books, but also on connections. Providing a way for a reader to find you after reading that great short story is essential. Building relationships with writers at a variety of stages will give you clarity on how a writing career actually works. Bumping into that lit agent could change everything.
If you don’t put yourself out there, nothing truly wonderful will happen.
1. Make yourself findable
You need a home where readers, writers, and other industry professionals can find you. A website and/or newsletter is most ideal because you control those sources. Social media profiles can be mistakenly banned by the company or the platform can fall out of vogue. You don’t want to loose contact with your entire readership in one day.
Some new authors resist this because they feel like a fraud starting a writing website when they haven’t published something. They don’t realize the long term nature of getting friendly with the algorithm or how many acquiesces will sign up for a newsletter to show support.
2. Follow people you want to emulate
Unless you had literary parents or friends that have been published, you’re likely building your network from square one. In this case, we suggest following, subscribing, or otherwise supporting the people who have the writing career you want.
If you visualize yourself as a literary speculative fiction writer who puts out a book every three years, you’ll want to find some like minded authors on Twitter. If you want to write to market and publish quarterly, you might want to follow the 20Booksto50K movement on Facebook. Either way, watching the careers of people you want to emulate provides you with the context you didn’t know you needed.
You can take this idea further. If you’re planning to submit to a certain magazine, try to get a hold of a physical copy through your library. Get a sense of their submission process before it’s time to submit yourself. Or subscribe to that writing center’s newsletter. Get to know the people who work for the organization.
3. Have something to offer even as a new writer
When a new writer is networking at this stage, they wonder, why would anyone want to meet me? Connect with me? Follow me?
And rightfully so. If you’re just another face in the sea, others in the industry have no idea how you stand out.
But once you have something to offer, you start to receive people’s time and talents in return.
Say you’d love to have lunch with a New York Times bestselling author. How do you make that happen?
Well, you could join the board of your local book festival. You’ll not only participate in behind-the-scenes discussions and work, but when your festival brings an author to town, you can volunteer to drive them from the airport or offer to set up an appreciation lunch. Providing volunteer support to the literary community is a great way to build relationships.
Here are a few more ideas:
- Start a podcast
- Join an author’s street team
- Consistently retweet literary agents you like
- Suggest indie author book purchases to your library and tag the author in a social media post when you check their book out
- Become a super fan
- Offer to beta read
- Plan a literary event in your area
- Comment, subscribe, and boost
4. Don't answer yourself before you ask the question
The very worst thing you can do when building a network as a new writer is to shoot yourself down with a big old NO before you even ask the question.
You will get many no’s, rejections, and nonresponses in your writing career, but you shouldn’t add to the mix. It can be scary putting yourself out there but once you do, you may be surprised at the kindness and openness you find.
Above all, be intentional in this stage as a new writer. If you’d like to dig more into how you can build an author career, check out our article How to Launch a Writing Career.