We writers are often told how important networking is to our budding career. I couldn’t agree more. Most of my sales have been acquired through networking, either at conferences or meetings of writers’ organizations. Success most often comes because of who we know, but we can only get to know contacts by getting out there and meeting them.
Each year I try to attend at least three conferences. Many attend more, some less. Whatever you can afford to do, money and time wise, then do it. In addition, I always try to speak at a few gatherings to make new friends or touch base with old ones.
Last weekend I attended Oklahoma Writers Federation, Inc. (OWFI) in Oklahoma City. As I wrote earlier, this is a conference I’ve attended for about 13 years, only missing a couple of times. At OWFI this year I also obtained an appointment to speak with an editor from St. Martin’s Press. Besides that meeting, I was also contacted by a local television station for an interview. In addition, I attended several very informative sessions and met up with some old friends. Most important of all, I learned some things I didn’t know.
For instance: publishing isn’t dead, it’s only evolving into something different. If we don’t adapt, we’ll be left behind. More and more small publishers are producing award winning books. Authors are learning to promote their own work by using the Internet to its best advantage. Small children going to school today will be tomorrow’s readers, not of books as we know them, but of e-books they’ll carry around by the dozens stored in a small reader in their backpack (if there is such a thing by then.)
If you can’t imagine this, then think of the monks who with painstaking concentration recorded words onto scrolls. Do you think for one minute they could have imagined books printed as they are today. Or that they believed for one minute one day books would be written simply by sitting down at a keyboard watching our words appear on a screen. We must admit to the possibilities of progress before we can hope to keep up and succeed.
Long gone are the days when a starving writer sat in his garret all alone scribbling words onto brown wrapping paper using the stub of a pencil. Those odd and elusive writers shunned company, sat alone for hours waiting for the muse to visit. Suffered, tore at their hair, moaned and wailed. I’ve often wondered if such stories aren’t the figment of some later author’s vivid imagination. We read how some more talented authors became alcoholics, drug addicts or went insane.
I’ll have to admit, there are days when I’m tempted to fall victim to all three. Days when nothing goes right, when every word only comes with a great deal of struggle, the weeks and months when rejections fill the mailbox, the years when books that should make the NYT best seller list don’t. Let’s face it, even today the profession is only for the strong of heart, mind and soul. For those of us too stubborn to give up in the face of adversity.
If you’re struggling to become successful as a writer, then get out there and find a conference to attend, or a writer’s group to join. If you’re already successful, don’t sit at home either. Remain fresh and up to date on what’s going on in your profession. Go to a conference, join a group, share your knowledge with “newbies.” Believe me, it will refresh your imagination.
Ozarks Writers League (OWL) meets quarterly near Branson, Missouri. Next meeting is May 17. Guest speakers are Marta Ferguson, owner of Wordhound Writing and Editing Services, LLC; Charles (Chuck) Sasser, author of more than 50 published books and adventurer, extraordinaire. At $25 a year, this is a bargain. See the website for more information:
Ozark Creative Writers 40th Annual conference is held in Eureka Springs, Arkansas on the second weekend of October each year. A New York editor and an agent will be on hand, plus several other great guests, like Max McCoy, Mike Blakely and Phillip Finch. See the website for more information:
Women Writing the West 14th Annual conference to be held in San Antonio, TX October 24-26 at the Omni Hotel. Editors and agents, pre conference tours and workshops by talented writers of the west. See the website for more information:
Next year check out OWFI’s website.
There are a multitude of conferences out there. Google for them and attend at least one this year.