20 July 2014

Networking Tips for Shy Writers: Three Steps to Success

If you're a writer, you likely want to make a living from your craft, but the idea of networking to market your skills or work may seem too intimidating for you.  As a shy writer, I've had to develop the skills to connect with others to promote my work.  Here are three quick tips to get you started.

Be No One Else But Yourself

Much of Western business culture is biased towards extroverts. It seems that you need to be outgoing, charming, and charismatic to really make it big.  For a shy writer, this belief is not only intimidating, it's repulsive.  It seems that we must become someone other than who we are to succeed.  That creates an understandable resistance to the whole idea of making a living from writing.

Writers thrive most whenever they express themselves authentically.  That's why it's important to walk into every networking event as yourself.  If you're shy, be shy. If you hate small talk, don't do small talk.  Simply be yourself in every interaction you have when meeting others to promote your work.
Of course, you may be asking "how can I be myself and still be sociable enough to succeed at networking?"  The best way to defeat your anxieties about networking for your writing is to actually go and do it, as yourself.   

Attend Two Networking Events a Month

In the same way that you didn't have to take a class in order to learn how to ride a bicycle, the best way to learn networking is to just do it.  Find two open networking events happening this month in your local area, and then go to them.  Ideally, space them two weeks apart so you can establish a rhythm to your routine.

A great resource for finding these events is Meetup.com.  This is a site designed to connect like-minded individuals, so if you're a writer, look for writer's guilds, book clubs, and marketing groups to start.

If this idea stirs up your anxiety, then this should calm you: when you go, you don't have to talk to anyone. What you're doing is learning through immersion. Show up without attachment to any particular outcome.  Your only goal is to get in the room.

At these events, you don't need to invent an icebreaker. Everyone is there for the same reason you are: to connect with others in business, so feel free to walk up to anyone and just say "hi". For that same reason, you may not have to do anything to have someone come up to you.  As with riding a bike, you'll get used to networking with practice.  Let your connections happen naturally, and be gentle with yourself. 

Learn From The Experts

As critical as learning by doing is, don't forget to read up on what the experts have to say about connecting with people. I recommend Dale Carnegie's How To Win Friends And Influence People, the cardinal guide on communication for business and pleasure.  Another great read is Nicholas Boothman's How to Make Someone Like You in 90 Seconds or Less, which uses an approach based on neuro-linguistic programming (NLP).

Jody Aberdeen is a freelance writer and the author of the sci-fi romance Convergence.  You can visit his page at www.jodyaberdeen.com or his blog, Another Odd Place For A Hill.  

24 November 2013

NaNoWriMo draws to a close

It's November 24th, and if you've been doing NaNoWriMo, you're going to be doing either one of two things. On one hand, you might be feverishly typing like crazy to ensure you've got 40k words in order to hit your 50k mark on Saturday, or you might have already sailed past the 40k mark, and you're now cruising towards your goal with days to spare.

No matter which NaNo-er you are, let me congratulate you on getting this far. Whether you've written 10k words, or 50k words, that's still a huge chunk of writing to have committed to paper. True, 50k is now well below the threshold considered a 'novel', but hey, you've possibly just written more in one go than you've ever written before.

I'm sure Saturday still feels like a long way off, but what exactly should you do when you hit 50k?

1) Take a break.
You've earned it. Take a couple of days off writing, and do something totally unrelated. Go to the cinema, visit friends, take in a show - anything you want, just don't write. Racking up 50k words in 30 days can take a lot out of you, so you'll need to recharge your batteries if you're going to survive the onslaught that is Christmas. However, at some point, you'll also need to...

2) Finish your novel.
If it's 'finished' at 50k, then you need to decide if you want to keep it as a novella-length piece, or you want to extend it to 80k or more to hit the 'novel' mark. If you want to extend it, consider sub plots, or padding out those scenes that you probably rushed in order to meet the deadline. If you've finished NaNo at 50k but your book itself is still far from complete, then get the rest written. Take your time - the mad panic is over. But one way or the other, get it done.

3) Edit, edit, edit.
Your book is far from finished - it is a first draft, at best. Even if you've typed 'The End' it's still not ready for the public. Put it to one side for a few weeks, maybe even start something new. Put some distance between yourself and your words, so that when you go back to them, you can critically decide what you need to do with what you've produced. Edit it once, and then edit it again. Find a beta reader, or a critique partner - or better yet, find an editor. If you want to put your book out there, it will need to be perfect if it's going to make it in a crowded marketplace.

Now you've finished reading this, get back to your NaNo effort. Only 10k words to go...

27 September 2013

Collaborative Book Writing 101

by Kelly DeBie

Waves frantically to our readers...how have you all been?

It’s been quiet around here for the past few months. I blame summer.

Now that it’s officially fall, it seems that almost every writer I know has begun to hunker down and get serious about writing again.

One of the biggest projects I am working on currently is a collaborative book. The title of it is Sunshine After The Storm: A Survival Guide for the Grieving Mother, and it should be available as an ebook next month, in hard copy shortly thereafter. 

It is the brainchild of Alexa Bigwarfe, who is currently in Washington, DC advocating on behalf of the March of Dimes.

As the title suggests, it is a book targeted to an audience of women who have endured infertility, miscarriages, stillbirths and the loss of their children. Assembling the writers for the book was made possible only through years of connections online of women who were willing to tell bits and pieces of their stories in their blogs.

With each story shared, others would come out of the woodwork, leaving comments and even being brave enough to write about their own losses. Over time, more and more of us became connected to each other, so when the idea of the book came to be, it didn't take long to circle the wagons.

This specific subject matter was quite amenable to a group approach because each of the contributors had a different experience to share, and as a cumulative whole we have addressed a large spectrum of maternal grief issues. An individual writer would, hopefully, only have experienced one or a few of those losses, but not all of them. Bringing our stories together lends more credibility to the book as a whole because we are all speaking from experience, not speculation.

As with any kind of collaborative project, each contributor brought their own background and experience to the piece, in addition to their own style and approach. We've been fortunate thus far that we are all on the same page as far as content and structure go. We've worked together to pull quotes from our own experiences to open each chapter as well.

I don't honestly know how much of the heavy lifting Alexa has done with the book, as she has been the one responsible for all the details. She found the editor and has been the contact person for everything, all the way down to choosing the images for the cover. I suspect she has put far more work into this than she leads on, and for all her efforts, we are tremendously grateful.

With this particular project, there hasn't been a financial motivation to write the book. There never was, and from the beginning, we agreed that the majority of the proceeds would be put back into printing additional books to distribute to hospitals and clinics to help grieving mothers. As an individual writer, I may eventually see a small return on it, but this particular book wasn't written for that reason. It was written to help other women. In the event that a collaborative book is written purely for profit, you would have to make sure that all contributors are agreed on the distribution of income from it ahead of time after all overhead was covered.

Obviously, how you go about gathering writers for a collaborative book will depend on the subject matter. Given the right subject matter, a collaborative approach can be preferred to solo writing, and I believe this is one of those subjects. It certainly cuts down on the amount of material that each person needs to generate, but provides a legitimate publishing opportunity.

In addition to all that, you also have a larger circle of influence built in for marketing simply by virtue of the fact that different writers contributed to the piece, and each will share it with their friends and fans. This book has already drawn a significant amount of interest as a result of our varying reaches.

This book has been a true labor of love, built from years of pain, put together for a reason, and is one that I am proud to say that I am a part of.