Please welcome our guest, Amanda Bonilla.
Amanda lives in rural Idaho with her husband and two kids. She’s a part-time pet wrangler, a full-time sun worshipper, and only goes out into the cold when coerced. When she’s not writing she’s either reading or talking about her favorite books. Her urban fantasy romance, SHAEDES OF GRAY debuts December 6th, 2011 from Signet/Eclipse. Please visit www.amandabonilla.com
You Are Not Alone: Networking in a Small Town
When I started writing seriously a few years back, I was totally clueless. I knew little-to-nothing about the publishing industry. I had no idea what a critique partner was. And I told no one of my endeavor to become a published author.
I live in a rural community. Small. Tiny. It wasn’t until I’d signed with my agent that I discovered there was a small writers group in my town. And it wasn’t until my book had sold that I realized there was a local (meetings are about 2 hours away) RWA chapter. I’d been so worried about opening up and talking about my writing that I robbed myself of the opportunity to network with some great local authors.
Living in the sticks doesn’t mean you have to act—or network—like a hermit. Of course, I reached out to other authors. But instead of looking in my own back yard, I met some great friends and crit partners from Utah all the way to Connecticut. For me, it was easier to say, “Hey! I’m writing a book!” to people hundreds, or even thousands of miles away. It was like somehow I thought these people would take me more seriously than the people I saw face to face every day in the grocery store. Which I now know was a ridiculous assumption. One thing I’ve learned: writers are the friendliest and most supportive group of people out there! And a lot of them live closer than you think.
My advice to anyone just starting out with this whole networking thing is to do your research. The Coeur du Bois chapter of RWA was easy to find once a friend pointed me in the right direction. A simple Google search would have been all I needed to find writers in my area. And don’t be afraid to open up about your writing! I know it’s scary. I know it might open you up to possible raised eyebrows and luke-warm reactions. On the other hand, you might be met with enthusiasm and support. You might meet another writer who’s been too scared to share her endeavors. If you open up to people, you might just meet a great crit partner. Or a friend for life.
Use the resources available. Join the QueryTracker forum. I’ve made some great connections through QueryTracker! Utilize Facebook and Twitter. I’m a huge advocate of Facebook. I love to interact with writers and readers alike on fan pages. It’s a great way to get yourself out there. Blog. But only if you want to, and only if you like it. I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not a great blogger. And that’s okay. I don’t hide out like I used to and I’m so glad I came out of my shell. There are so many great people out there to meet!
How about you? Is your local community packed with live crit-groups and writerly types? Or have you had to search far and wide to make a connection? Is it easier to interact over email and forums or do you prefer face-to-face interaction?