You know the story about the starving writer who spends days and nights in his lonely garret putting his precious words on paper? Well, that came from the 19th century about 19th century writers. So those of you who think you can shut yourselves up and write all the time and never come out and visit with other writers or attend conferences or show up at a writer’s group regularly or just sit in the mall and observe humanity, are making a big mistake.
When people ask me what I think is the most important thing for a writer to do after her book is finished, I say network, and it should begin long before the book is completed. If you don’t converse well, then learn how, because you are literally shoving your book into a closet if you don’t network.
I obtained my first agent through a writer’s group and I sold my first two books by attending conferences. What was the first thing my new editor asked me to do after she bought my first book? Attend a conference where she would also be in attendance. Wonder why she wanted me to do that? She wanted people to begin to talk about me and my book long before it came out. At that conference I heard my name and the book title many times while schmoozing. It’s an important lesson to learn.
As soon as you know you are going to finish the book you’re working on, begin to visit local bookstores. Get acquainted with the clerks, the community relations person, if there is one. Find a local writer’s group and visit. If you don’t like it, try another. If you don’t find one you like, start one. Go to the library and talk to the folks there about writers in the area. Make sure they know your name. You don’t have to mention that you’re writing a book at that point, you’re getting acquainted with people in the business in which you want to succeed.
Once you begin to market that book, set up a website and a blog or two. Begin to post clever articles. Again, you are getting acquainted in the business. When I was first published, there wasn’t an Internet like we know it today. We had to do all our promoting in person or in the mail or on the phone. Consider yourself lucky you have these opportunities instead of complaining that you don’t have time to blog or you don’t know how to set up a website. Learn how and do it.
There are a lot of online groups that can help you with that too. Check out Yahoo Groups for writer’s groups and try them out. Besides the specific groups for mystery, sci fi, fantasy, romance, western, etc., there are general groups. Take a look at Write Attitude for some terrific resources. Or Absolute Write.
Subscribe to newsletters that are chock full of information for writers. Google John Kremer and Dan Poynter, both of whom share tons of writerly information. Organized Writer is another one. There are so many promoting opportunities in today’s market you must take advantage of them.
Set up your schedule so you work on promotion either one day a week, or a few hours a week, whichever you can do. And do it every week. Don’t get distracted by anything else. When you’re writing, write; when you’re promoting promote. Attend two or three conferences a year, whatever you can afford and go with the attitude that you’re going to learn a lot about your craft. And believe me, you will.