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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Networking

   
Author Topic: Networking
Meredith
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This is probably a strange question. But, here goes.

I am the world's worst networker. Seriously. Ask anybody who knows me. And, even if I weren't, I'm almost completely tied down right now. I can't go to writers' conferences or anything like that at the moment. Basically, if I can't get there, do what I need to do, and get home inside of six hours, between approximately 10 am and 4 pm, I just can't go. (I'm caregiver for my elderly mother, which gives me plenty of time to write, but very little money and even less freedom to get away from the house.)

I've seen on many of the different sites about getting an agent that the best way is by referral. Not going to happen if I have to go to a conference to hob nob. And, frankly, with my networking skills, that probably still wouldn't help.

However, it so happens that there is one author that I kind of know, but not as an author. And some of her books are in the same genre/sub genre as mine. I actually "know" her through a list serve about our dogs. We both have the same kind of dogs. I even sort of met her at a dog show a couple of years ago, which I'm sure she wouldn't remember. I complemented her dog, like she needed my opinion on a great dog. (She lives one state away and sometimes comes to our specialty.)

Is there any circumstance in which it would be appropriate to contact her? I probably won't any way. I'm just no good at that sort of thing. Just like in person, I wouldn't have a clue what to say.


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snapper
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Why Meredith,

you sound like a teenage boy lacking just a little bit of self esteem to ask that girl (or any girl for that matter) he's smitten with to a date.

It's easy.

Hey! Why don't we get together sometime? If your ever in my neck of the woods, why don't you give me a ring? We'll do coffee or something.

I've met BentTree and another fellow from Dallas (from a different critique group) that way. I also got rainchecks for a friend (from that same group) in South Carolina and for Deb H in Arizona. I just missed Annepin in California and RFWII even said to stop by if I am ever near his base at White Sands, although he did warn me he keeps an M16 under his bed (he may have mentioned a handgrenade as well).

Trust me. Most writers are eager to place a face behind these forum handles. It just so happens that I travel which gives me an opportunity that others miss.

It never hurts to ask.

[This message has been edited by snapper (edited May 11, 2009).]


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Meredith
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LOL. Well, I was never a teenage boy, but there's probably something in the analogy.

Actually, it's not so much lack of self esteem as a paralyzing shyness around strangers or mere acquaintances. I'm better than I was, but I'll never be a social butterfly.

I'm fine with people I know well, although even then I hate to ask for favors. And I positively hate to feel like I'm imposing.

Somehow, it's easier online.


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KayTi
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Well, then, play to your strengths!

Write a short email. Tell her you're just starting out, have a (whatever - finished MSS, a few short stories in the can) and are looking for some advice from someone with more publishing credentials than you. Don't ask her to read your stuff, most people I know who are serious about writing don't want to be asked to read for someone who may or may not be serious (can't tell until you get to know them/start to see bits of their writing.) I've read more horrible stuff than I can shake a stick at, and I'm not all that serious about it.

But do ask for her tips, tricks, website recommendations, any leads on agents to avoid, ones to head toward, etc. The one big hangup you may have is if you write in different genres, in which case you can just ask her general input on the biz and the process, versus the specifics about agents and houses.

Either way, good luck. I used to be paralyzingly shy but forced my way out of it, still get back into that mentality sometimes, though. I agree that online comms help make it easier.


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extrinsic
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I have similar handicaps with networking: money, reluctance, and avoidance issues. I'm a raging agoraphobe, jostling crowds of indifferent strangers can cause me to faint. More often than not, though, anxiety and irritability are the order of the day, which are alienating in and of themselves, in both directions. I've attended a few writers' conferences anyway, but with careful preparation, like arriving at events early and strategically arranging my seating so that real or imagined barriers provide some insulation and then waiting for the crowd to clear out before leaving, or leaving early.

In arranged or spontaneous one-on-one encounters, I have no qualms about imposing. I approach those encounters with an eye toward an exchange of mutually beneficial ideas. Like anything in life, if the other party feels they've come ahead, they want more.

I'm hypersensitive to being imposed upon or being imposing, though. More often than not, I'm out of there if the exchange isn't reciprocal. If the person I'm encountering isn't getting anything out of it, they express nonverbal cues that are straightforwardly interpretable as avoidance reactions. Then I graciously withdraw and don't bother them anymore. If I'm not getting anything out of it, or I'm being taken advantage of or being abused, I also withdraw, sometimes not so graciously.

[This message has been edited by extrinsic (edited May 11, 2009).]


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Cheyne
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I was once a teenaged boy, and still am in some part of my psyche. I felt like extrinsic was describing me as I read his post. 'Anxiety and irritability' are the order of my life. But I have had a charmed experience in the area of networking since deciding I was indeed a writer. It all started with taking an evening course at the local community college. The class was taught by two wonderful ladies who were both published writers. After the short run of classes they arranged for some of us to continue meeting as a crit group to keep everyone writing.
This was great for a time but some members slowly faded away. About a year ago they asked me to join their own writing group. The group included four published novelists, three magazine editors (one of an SF&F magazine) and a bunch of talented wannabes like myself. I have gone to three book launches this spring and have been introduced (as a talented writer to watch for) to several publishers on a first name basis. When we recently decided to move our electronic contact from Yahoo to facebook I was reluctant to join. Since joining though I have had two SF publishers request to be my 'friends' and I see my real friends conversing with authors such as Mike Resnick and Robert J. Sawyer(Facebook suggests him as a friend every second time I actually log in).
If this seems like I'm name dropping I don't mean to. I really did just fall into all this quite by accident. Now I just have to finish some stuff to submit.
What this has done for me is show me that professional writers are real and normal people. I've eaten at the kitchen table where one of my friends has written nine(published) novels. I have made suggestions in critiques that have made their way into published works. I have been accepted as a writer. My advice: bite the bullet and email the writer acquaintance and suggest a meeting for coffee. If she says no, oh well, it's not like she will badmouth you to her publisher is it. If she says yes it could open many doors for you.

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snapper
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You see Meredith?

The upside far outweighs the down. You have more than one interest together. Severeal of your fellow writers look for that backdoor possibilty that is available to you.

I think I know of one reason why you hesitate. You don't want to be that person. The one that becomes a pain and a burden.

Could you look at this for me? What do you think of this idea? I got my novel almost done, could you do me this small favor tell me if this 95000 word piece is ready for the big time?

A valid concern. Truth is, if you are worried about that it is unlikely that you will be that person. That person almost never realizes they are That person. Clueless I believe is the correct term.

Look at it this way. Writers, the ones that really take their craft seriously, are about as common as pokemon conventionaires (but a lot less open). There is a possibility that your friend could use a friend that shares their hobby/ambitions. Not everyone writes. Your friend may feel less like an outcast if they have someone to share a little time with. Put out a feeler. It may be one of the best decisions you ever made.


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Jaz
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Wow, talk about a topic hitting close to home. I'm struggling with many of the same things and its taken a little bit of therapy to even begin to delve into why. (Too much information?)

Anyways, biting the bullet is harder for some more than others. Being that much of an introvert is like having a fear of heights - you don't just jump out of an airplane first thing. That's something you have to build to - although I'm not there yet.

In these kinds of situations I've found that e-mail is the best tool. There's still that facelessness to it that you can find in a forum such as this. Drop them a simple note saying "I met you awhile back at so-and-so and would really like to hear some of your experiences and advice about the writing world. I'm working on some stories of my own and would really appreciate someone to chat with about things. Thank you for your time and I hope I haven't been a bother."

Ok, so don't copy and paste that one - but you get the idea.

Good luck.


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Meredith
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I opted for a less direct route. I posted a general request for good luck vibes to the list. (These dogs have an "in" with the Queen of the Fairies, you know.) I'm more comfortable with this. I'm not asking for anything but some good luck wishes this way.

Here's what I sent:

quote:
I'd like to request some corgi good-luck vibes sent my way. Not for my dogs.

I know I posted some time ago on one, if not both of these lists (corgi-L and CardiNet) that I was writing a novel. Well, it's been written, revised, critiqued, and revised again. Now it's time to push the baby bird out of the nest and see if it can fly. I know the butterflies in my stomach can.

I know a few people on both these lists know how this feels. Over the next few days I will be starting the much scarier process of trying to find an agent for this story. Any good thoughts you and your magical dogs can send my way will be appreciated. I could certainly use a change in my luck about now.

For corgi content, the novel (a fantasy) does include a couple of dogs that would be recognizable to those on this list. They don't have a central part, but there is at least one good corgi frap, cardi style. And most of it was written with a certain brindle cardi sleeping at my feet--if not on them. Someday, he may even let me put my feet under the desk. But I'm not holding my breath.

If you don't mind, rub those corgi ears and whisper good thoughts for this venture of mine. Thanks.



[This message has been edited by Meredith (edited May 12, 2009).]


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extrinsic
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Barring a personal referral, here are two sources of agents' contact information that I've used for research purposes;

PublishersMarketplace
http://www.publishersmarketplace.com

The Association of Author's Representatives, Inc.
http://www.aaronline.org/mc/page.do

Both sites have database searches for agents and links to agents' information and submission guidelines. All agents listed on both sites are vetted by exemplary ethical standards.

It's worth noting that agents have no prohibition against simultaneous queries (many of those listed do allow or even some require e-mail queries), though some do ask for a consideration of refusal or bidding on a property in the event another agent or house makes an offer.

Edit: If you'd like to try a dress rehearsal submission, no strings attached, send me a query and first and last chapters. I'll read them and express my level of enthusiasm for the novel project, no critique, no negativity, no other commentary.

[This message has been edited by extrinsic (edited May 12, 2009).]


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Meredith
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OMG. It worked! I just got an e-mail from her offering to help me find an agent!

I think I just networked. Wait a minute, now I'm scaring myself.

I have to compose an appropriate reply.

I also got a whole lot of well-wishes from other corgi owners, some of them also writerly types. One person has already hit me up for an autographed copy! LOL


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mommiller
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Way to go Meredith!

I just read through the entire thread and love the suggestions. Although I do recommend joining an in person writing group as well. Is there someone you know and trust to give you some respite time with your mum?


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Meredith
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Yes. My sister-in-law can watch Mom occasionally, as long as there's nothing out of the ordinary.

I could probably get away for an evening once or twice a month. I haven't really looked for any face-to-face groups. I suppose I should.


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