While U Wait: Connect with Colleagues

Wendy Lawton

Blogger:  Wendy Lawton

Location: Books & Such Central Valley Office

Weather: 88º and sunny

So while you are waiting we’ve had you perfecting your craft, building your inventory, setting up your infrastructure and pre-marketing. Now comes one of the most important things for an author-in-waiting: connecting with colleagues. But wait! One of the reasons you love writing is because it is a solitary pursuit, right? Aren’t most writers introverts?

Why in the world do we have to connect with other writers?

You’ve heard the word networking used and overused until it has made us all cringe. I once heard Randy Ingermanson say that he hated the concept and felt it was manipulative. He called it not-working. It’s all in the motivation. We writers need each other. In this day when authors are expected to shoulder a portion of the burden for marketing their books, we need each other more than ever. We need to connect with our colleagues not so much to get them to help us get the word out about our books but to see how we can help each other. It’s much easier to talk up my friend’s book than it is to talk up my own book.

Plus, the publisher is going to ask you to help get published authors to blurb your books. This is the task we all hate but if we are helping to secure endorsements for their books they will help us secure endorsements for ours. We need each other. As I mentioned yesterday, we can even have a page on our website where we review and promote other books. We may want to host blog tours.It is fun to connect with other authors, especially those who write in our genre. We can trade brainstorming, critiques and research.

So how do we connect with other writers?

  • Join Writing Groups. There are so many: ACFW, RWA, Mystery Writers of America, Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators. Reader’s Read gives a list of dozens of organizations.
  • Go to a Conference. Meeting fellow writers is one of the most important things you will do at a conference.
  • Find a Local Writing Group. Check with your library, your Borders or Barnes & Noble. They will most likely know where to find the local writers.
  • Comment on Author Blogs. When you leave regular comments on writing blogs, you are becoming part of that blog community. Watch the other comments. When someone interests you, follow them to their blog or Twitter. You may eventually decide to connect.
  • Offer to Help Your Favorite Writers. Lauraine Snelling has a whole group of readers, writers and friends who help pass out bookmarks for her and get the word out about her new releases. I’ve watched this bestselling author reciprocate as well. She’s always helping debut authors get their start. Friendship is helping each other.

However you do it, now is the time to begin to develop the friendships that will last even longer than your books. How did you meet your writing friends?

12 Responses

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  1. patriciazell says:

    Wendy, you’ve given me something to think about. I’ve been connecting with publishers, agents, coaches, publicists, and a few authors through their blogs–I think I need to find some more authors. I love commenting on blogs (as if you can’t tell that) because it’s a great way to meet new people who write things I need to read. Thanks for your insight!

  2. Wendy says:

    I’ve been blown away by the connections I’ve made with fellow writers online. I feel like I’ve finally encountered people who appreciate writing and share the same passion I do for the craft. Signed up for ACFW several days ago. Cannot wait.

    I recently heard the term gregarious introvert used to describe writers who are able to relate well with others. That defines me.

    Wendy, These posts have been invaluable.

  3. Teri Dawn Smith says:

    I met a group of five wonderful friends in a critique group put together by ACFW a few years ago. We not only critique, but we share the joys of a wedding or new grandchild as well as prayer needs.

    Then this year I attended two writers retreats with Susan May Warren. The same group of about 15 ladies attended, and we’ve formed a band of sisters like few I’ve ever encountered. We’re scattered from east to west and north to the south, but have bonded into a group ready to pray, critique, brainstorm, or support each other at a moment’s notice. Susie even calls us her “peeps”. We’re in the process of starting a new blog now.

    God also placed a wonderful writer right here in my hometown. She’s gifted but needed a little nudge to get going. Thankfully, she’s with me all the way now.

    I’ve met other wonderful authors at ACFW and kept in contact on blogs, facebook, and twitter.

    I’m always amazed at how much the CBA authors reach out to help those of us coming along in their footsteps. Instead of swatting us away like annoying flies, they draw us alongside and show us the way.

  4. Nicole says:

    Funny, I did a post today on “stand-offish authors”. However, what I’ve found are a bunch of enormously generous and gifted authors (Robert Liparulo, Tosca Lee, and Brandilyn Collins to name a few) who respond to people and writers.
    Who wouldn’t want to network with people whose work they admire? I need affirmation–why wouldn’t they? They’re just people, no matter how big or small in the industry. As you so aptly said, Wendy, we need each other.

  5. Jean Wise says:

    I don’t know what I would do without my writers friends – their endless support, sharing and prayers. Besides a local group, I am part of an online writers group – we critique, share resource and encourage each other. I am a better today because of them.

  6. Marti Pieper says:

    I connect through my local critique group (Word Weavers Orlando) but also at conferences; via Facebook; blogs; and an online group, The Writers View.

    The writing profession rises and falls on relationships. I’ve tried to model mine after my mentor, Cec Murphey, who has a strong commitment to do whatever he can to help other writers. Faithfulness counts, and relationships matter. Through my writing relationships, God has returned much more than I’ve ever given. I appreciate this blog and the education it brings me. Blessings!

  7. Timothy Klingerman says:

    Wendy, I have enjoyed your posts this week. Are there any online groups for Christian nonfiction writers that you would highly recommended? Thank you.

  8. I can honestly say that I would have quit ALONG time ago if not for the writer friend’s I’ve made. Many are unpublished so it’s a “I know how you feel” kind of relationship. And it is SO SO SO fun and encouraging when a fellow friend has a “win” and makes me realize, it CAN happen! (Okay, I’ll admit, there might be a teensy twinge of jealousy sometimes, but my happiness for them overrides it big time!)

    I’m also VERY blessed to have a wonderful local writer’s group here in Nashville, filled with AWESOME published authors and non-published. I’ve learned a TON from all of them, and count their friendship a HUGE blessing.

  9. Wendy Lawton says:

    Timothy, I can’t think of an online group for nonfiction writers offhand. I’ve always loved CWFI but they recnerky disbanded. can anyone help with a suggestion.

  10. Lenore Buth says:

    Thanks for your great posts this week, Wendy. Lots of practical, useful information.

    I’ve been blessed over the years by being in some good critique groups that focused on being professional. Sometimes I needed that incentive to keep on keepin’ on. It’s refreshing to be with people who understand this uncommon way of life. Few outsiders, no matter how loving and supportive, really can.

    Who can blame them? Truth is, it is a bit odd to sit at a computer and churn out words, day after day. No wonder only other writers can relate.

    Ah, but that’s what we’re called to do, so all is well.

  11. Lynn Dean says:

    I was out of town Friday, but your series last week was so helpful that I made it a priority today to see what I missed. Thank you for another excellent post!

    ACFW has played a part in so many writing relationships. When I was first starting out, they matched me up with five other wonderful ladies for an online critique group that has become so much more. In addition, I’ve formed deep friendships with women I met at annual conferences, and the Voices group I discovered at last year’s seminar by Susan May Warren and Rachel Hauck has provided continuing benefits. While taking a free online class through ACFW, the instructor put me together with another student who had a similar style, and that has developed into a long-term friendship. Finally it was through ACFW that I met another author from my hometown. We meet once a month at a local bookstore with some secular writers in our area, so the circle is growing wider.

    There are so many benefits to networking with other writers! I would not have grown half so much in my craft without their input into my life.

  12. Good, now I’m caught up again. Great job, Wendy, as always. Regarding bookmarks. We believe that is my most affective/effective??? promo tool and we’re always on the lookout for other ways to add to our lists. People love bookmarks. I do and finally got out of the habit of bending pages. I have bookmarks stashed near all my reading places. We have mine printed in TX, but they have a minimum of 5,000. Quality printing Cheap is a great company to work with.

    We are all in this family together folks and therefore helping each other is part of our life and business.

    The best way to meet people is to smile, stick out your hand and introduce yourself. Make a game of it, if you are uncomfortable.

    Blessings, Lauraine