The Importance of Making Connections as an Author
Six years ago when I started my writing career, I wouldn't have even dreamed I would have had the chance to meet as many writers as I know now. I wouldn't have dreamed that I would even be able to call so many writers my friends. It wasn't until two years ago that I felt myself actually start to make connections with other writers, but after I did, I couldn't believe that I went so long without them!
As busy as we writers are, it is crucial that we carve out time to connect with other writers and authors. No one is going to be able to understand the struggle and the process as they will. No one is going to give you better advice on writing matters than they will. It's just the simple truth of it all.
How did I finally start the ball rolling? (ahem, on making friends)
To be honest, my main focus when I started writing was to fulfill the dream I had of writing a book and getting it in front of readers. I had so many stories that I'd written and put on a shelf, I wanted to actually get one out there. So for a long time, I only worked on my writing and created a Facebook author's page and that was that. I had gained maybe 200 followers on it but then felt stuck. As if I had hit a ceiling. I read article after article that pretty much told me I had to sell, sell, sell my book or it would never get off the ground and frankly, that just didn't feel right. Who wants someone else's product shoved in their face. Not me!
So, now I started checking out the writing world. I started researching hashtags (maybe using them too much) until I finally came across Twitter. I created an account in 2013 but then didn't do anything with it. I didn't touch it after that, probably because no matter what I posted, I didn't get any traction. I was used to the platform that Facebook was, a place where people check out your page, occasionally leave a comment, and follow your page. Twitter was a whole different ball game. A place where people wanted information and mainly followed trends. More importantly, it was fast-paced!
This was a turning point for me. I needed to change what I was doing or I needed to stop writing. The struggle of trying to be seen and grow my readership was causing me to lose my love of writing. Point blank.
Here I was on Twitter writing questions, scoping out other writers, and trying to make it work for me. Slowly but surely, I started creeping up in those followers until I reached 1,000 followers. (A pretty big deal in my book!) 1,000 people actually cared about what I posted, a one-book author. How cool?!
Then I received a message from a guy named Ben McQueeney and I honestly thought someone was making a joke. He was like, "Hey, I have this writer's speakeasy where writers talk about daily stuff and writing. I wanted to know if you want to join." I'm to going to lie, I almost deleted it. So, I let this sit for a few days before I finally answered 'sure, why not.' Who would have thought these 16 people would end up being people I talk to daily and are some of my now closest friends. These people have given me more insight and advice than I could have ever dreamt of simply because they have been there and done that. And who thought I would actually be able to help them back! Crazy!
Where am I at now?
Now two years talking to this spectacular group of writers and meeting tons of new writers on all platforms, I still learn something new every day and actually have pushed myself to publish four other great books.
I've read that once you find your 'tribe' in the writing community, your perspective, and your strategy change. What does your tribe look like? Is it like mine, having writers from all walks of life, experiences, and genres? Or is it all people from the same genre? No matter who it is, it is always a comforting thought to have someone in your corner. Someone to rely on for advice, to cheer you on, and to help in return. Never would I have thought that one little message would have changed my whole strategy and perspective on writing with the experiences it brought me. (P.S. Thank you, Ben!)
How do you find these magical beings?
Believe it or not, I feel as if it happens by chance, like so many other things. You can find them in writing groups on Facebook, Linked In, or Goodreads. It can happen after talking through a series of comments on Twitter. Maybe you even exchange ARC's with another author in the same genre on Instagram. It happens and can happen for you, and trust me, it's worth it.