Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Announcement: Contest to Win a Teen Beta-Reader (No. You Don't Get to Keep Him)


 

Coming soon (submissions will be due in about a month), Thinking to Inking is bringing you a contest. More specific details (dates, procedures)to follow, but here is the premise:
Un-agented writers, agented writers, and published writers all have the opportunity to “win” a beta reader. These beta readers aren’t just any readers, though. They are, perhaps, even more terrifying than Simon Cowell. They are some of the toughest critics around: a fantastic group of sophomores in the reading intervention class at the high school where I teach (not my students).

The teens will be sifting through your synopses and sample pages to pick a book to read in class. Winners of the book selection game will be posted on the site for all to see who can lure in a very reluctant reader with their enticing premise and voice. Writers will then submit a “full” to the student to read. Students will read and  privately provide feedback to writers on what feels inauthentic, and quite possibly where the reader gave up (these are incredibly reluctant readers – no guarantees that they will finish reading your book).

At the end, students will advocate for/debate which book they think needs to be published most, and we will post the winner on the site so the whole world will know that the winner has reached some of the most unreachable readers.

Put your brave-boots on, writers, and get prepared to wow those who fill these desks…


PS Happy Holidays! I wrote a post a few years back on career histories of some of my favorite poets/authors along the lines of Jen’s inspirational “keep going” post earlier. If you’ve never heard the legend surrounding Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy  Evening”, or how David Sedaris got his break you may want to check it out. Oh, and it’s all holiday-themed for your snow-falling pleasure.

PPS If you’re in the holiday spirit and want a cool way to help the world, head over to Nathan Bransford’s blog to learn how to help Heifer International help the world.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Industry Month In Review: Triumph & Perseverance

Candle
In light of the events of this past Friday, we at Thinking to Inking want to express our sincerest condolences to those affected by the Sandy Hook tragedy.  As children's writers, whose goal and joy it is to see kids grow, imagine and explore through words, it's inconceivable to think that someone would want to take not just that experience but any experience away from ones so innocent.  Not only did the families and community of Newton lose on Friday, we all lost. 

I'd drafted this post prior to Friday and entitled it Triumph & Perseverance.  The news is celebratory and focused on hard work and determination.  I think that as writers, that's what we're about.  We embrace the challenge of story and express ourselves through words. Wouldn't it be grand if everyone did the same?

Kim Liggett-PeplowskiIf ever there was a writer whose manuscript flowed like a sweet song, it would be Kim Liggett-Peplowski.  But I should correct myself by saying manuscript no more as Arianne Lewin at Putnam just announced she has acquired Kim's debut YA romantic thriller "Blood and Salt", in a two-book deal at auction.  I had the pleasure of meeting Kim in October at Your Best Books.  As a member of my critique group at the week long workshop (shout outs to fellow members Halli and Carol), we'd meet every afternoon with faculty (including her soon to be agent Josh Adams) and read pages from each others manuscripts.  Both lyrical in words and beautiful in story, Kim's manuscript stood out even then.  

So why is this so exciting?  To me, it's not because Kim is a wonderful human being (she is) or that she got a two book deal (amazing), it's because I got the opportunity to witness if just for a few days, the Kim before the storm (of success).  I got to see the effort that she put into everything that was her manuscript, the sacrifices she made, the anxieties and the uncertainty but most importantly the determination not to give up.  That is what I think is inspiring to writers.  The knowledge that it's not an overnight success but a cumulation of time, energy and love of the project. 

So for all you hard working aspiring writers, here are a few good news stories for the month of December to help us triumph and persevere.


New York Times Logo
The New York Times creates separate middle grade and YA bestsellers lists - now you have more opportunities to be a part of this esteemed group.

Writer L.B. Schulman blogs about writing for the long haul - inspiration for those cold winter days when you just want to throw your manuscript in the fireplace.

Author Lee Child gives us the answer to the question "How Do You Create Suspense?" - which has a lot to do with patience and perseverance because as writers we have a penchant to want to give our readers a lot of information all at once.  But by slowly unravelling the story, revealing small answers before big ones we create the suspense our readers thrive on.  

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Writing Lessons from Knitting

The QueryTracker blog had this neat post a few weeks ago comparing writing to knitting. As you may or may not know, I design and sell knitting patterns when I'm not writing, so this was right up my alley!

Sarah Pinneo, the author, makes the point that knitted sweaters begin by looking terrible, just like first drafts. I totally agree. Most of my knitted projects look like this when they're first started:

Yucky knitting

But I would even take it a step further. Yes, the sweater starts to look like an actual sweater once you're up to the sleeves. Yes, people stop asking you if you're making mittens for giants. If you're lucky, people even stop telling you sweaters can be bought at Wal-Mart for fifteen dollars, in a tone of voice that clearly says they are wondering why you do not know this already.

But the truth is, until you finish the whole thing, sew in the ends, soak it in water, and pat it into shape to dry, it looks pretty much like crap.

See where I'm going with this?

revised text

Yep, I'm harping on about revision again. The importance of revising your work can't be overstated (especially in the aftermath of NaNoWriMo!). I have been going through old manuscripts recently, and realizing each one should have been put aside and revised several more times before I sent it out. The draft needs to be patted into shape just like the sweater does.

When I design sweaters, there's a lot of revision involved. Sometimes my basic concept doesn't work at all. Sometimes I have to take out parts of the design and completely redo them--and it's just as painful as  highlighting that chapter or scene and hitting delete.
revisions

BUT... the product is always better, just like it is with knitting. The end goal is what's important. I always want to send my manuscript out right NOW, but I'm going to take a cue from my knitting design and remind myself that no one wants to see my lumpy, misshapen, fresh-off-the-needles draft. It's worth the time to make it as good as I know it can be.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Curious Lives of Teenagers: Secret Wish

 

When asked "If I could grant you one wish, what would it be?" subjects responded as follows:
  • adventure
  • a hot air balloon
  • to be completely comfortable with myself
  • confidence in myself
  • to fly in a wingsuit
  • to lose weight
  • to be successful
  • a boyfriend
  • Vandy or Northwestern
  • to be healed of my anger and hurt
  • Atwin
  • to make my dad proud of my accomplishments in life now and in the future
  • to travel to enchanting places all over the world
  • to be confident in myself and my decisions
  • to be successful, so I can take care of my parents when they are older like they took care of me
  • a boyfriend & a kitten that never turns into a cat
  • to just be done with high school
  • that someone will find a cure for cancer
  • mo' money!
  • to be content with the things that make up my life. I want to be happy.
  • to be good at something
  • to travel the world, under the sea, and travel space. I want to see the future and undiscovered places
  • to bake a cake full of rainbows and smiles so we all can be happy
  • for cancer to not exist
  • that my family wasn't broken
  • to live a life I'm happy with. I want to be rich in life rather than rich in money
  • to do what I want and not worry about the money I would earn
  • to make a difference; to live not just exist
  • an A+ on the Crime and Punishment essay
  • ***(name of female student in class)
  • ***(name of male student in class)
  • world peace
  • my parents to trust and support my actions
  • my family to stop stressing and to finally call somewhere home...
  • stay in my home town
  • a 70 inch TV that replays Paquiao getting knocked out by Marquez over my bed
  • snow on Christmas
  • to go to the 2016 Rio de Janiero Olympics
  • everyone to be happy
  • to live on a private island with all of my friends and family
  • to be able to look back on my life and know that I made a positive and lasting impact on the world around me

*Subjects are honors and AP English students (many of them avid pleasure readers) at a public high school in coastal north county San Diego.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Independent Editor: My Not-So-Secret Weapon


Editing Paper With Red Pen


You've passed on dinner with friends, avoided the gym and skipped out on family events but it's all been worth it cause now you're finally done! You type those two little words "the end" and sit back to admire your pièce de résistance...at least for a minute.  Then you press send and forward it to your beta readers and writing group for feedback.
 
A few weeks later, the responses trickle in. 

Mother's friend's daughter: "Fantastic! Wouldn't change a word!"

Your bestie Director of HR: "I think chapter four should be chapter one and chapter six should be chapter twelve and chapter two should be at the end."

Writing group friend extraordinaire: Love your protagonist but I'm having trouble believing your antagonist and losing interest in the second third of your manuscript.
Woman at computer
You scan the replies and scratch your head (maybe even pull out a hair or ten).  What does this all mean? Where do you start? Who do you listen to?

At times like this, you wish you had someone to lean on, someone who really knew the business and the minds of the editors and agents alike.  Someone who's like an editor but will give you the detailed feedback you need to make your book that much better.

Well, there is, and you do.

Cue *angels singing from heaven*

These fine folks are known as independent editors.  Individuals who are not publishers or agents but who've worked in the business for years as publishers, editors and/or writers and who are in tune with the ins and outs of the industry.  Be it a synopsis, outline or full manuscript, you can hire these editors to review your work and provide feedback.

Wait...hold on.  I know what you're thinking.  You want me to shell out my hard earned money to get another person to read my book and give me notes? 

The answer: yes, and here's why.

Your manuscript is your baby and you've spent countless hours caring for and nurturing your story.  If time is money, then you've already invested at least the equivalent of a down payment on a country home.  An indie editor will help you take your manuscript to the next level.  They will identify those areas that don't work not because they "feel" it doesn't work but because they know the reasons why it doesn't work.  They will ask the hard questions (you know, the ones that your husband/child/sister wouldn't dare ask) and provide the guidance you need to improve not just your manuscript but also your writing skills.

Jackie Garlick-Pynaert of Blah Blah Blah Blogger provides a great analogy.  Behind every great athlete is a fantastic coach.  Athletes don't become great without someone pushing them to be better.  Think of your indie-editor as your coach, helping you to hone your craft and make your manuscript the best that it can be for the markets of today.

Over the past year, I've had the pleasure of working with Free Expression's Lorin Oberweger on my manuscript. Since I am one who outlines, Lorin's feedback has helped guide my story development and steer me away from storylines and tangents that may have resulted in many wasted hours (something I definitely can't afford).   
Glasses on Book

But how do you know the good editors from the bad?  The best thing to do is research.  Check out your editor's background.  What have they done in the industry, whom have they worked for and who are their clients?  Conferences and workshops are great places to meet indie editors where they often provide their services specific to the event at rates that are very affordable for attendees.  This is a cost effective way for you to test out potential indie editors and see if they are a right fit for you. 

While hiring an indie editor won't guarantee a publisher will present you with a six figure book deal, it will help you to create a better manuscript.  After all, your manuscript is a reflection of you and wouldn't you want an agent or publisher to see you at your best?  

For more information on independent editors, check out:

Lorin Oberweger and Brenda Windberg at Free Expressions
Emma Dryden at Drydenbks 

Monday, December 3, 2012

YA Book Pick: STRUCK


On the second Monday of every month, we choose an outstanding YA book to review. We want to spotlight books of interest to aspiring writers, as well as highlight some of our favorite books and authors!

This month's Book Pick is STRUCK by Jennifer Bosworth.



Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Mia Price is a lightning addict. She’s survived countless strikes, but her craving to connect to the energy in storms endangers her life and the lives of those around her.

Los Angeles, where lightning rarely strikes, is one of the few places Mia feels safe from her addiction. But when an earthquake devastates the city, her haven is transformed into a minefield of chaos and danger. The beaches become massive tent cities. Downtown is a crumbling wasteland, where a traveling party moves to a different empty building each night, the revelers drawn to the destruction by a force they cannot deny. Two warring cults rise to power, and both see Mia as the key to their opposing doomsday prophecies. They believe she has a connection to the freak electrical storm that caused the quake, and to the far more devastating storm that is yet to come.

Mia wants to trust the enigmatic and alluring Jeremy when he promises to protect her, but she fears he isn’t who he claims to be. In the end, the passion and power that brought them together could be their downfall. When the final disaster strikes, Mia must risk unleashing the full horror of her strength to save the people she loves, or lose everything.

First Line: "I don’t sleep much."

The first line is nice enough, but it’s really only setting us up for a few quick sentences down the road that end in “…it’s one of my more tolerable lightening strike aftereffects.” If we count all of that as a first line, we’re set up for a pretty darned intriguing premise. Casual, off-handed, confessional, and original.

Highlights: Having lived most of my life in Southern California, I loved the way she depicted the iconic city of Los Angeles in ruins. The book also had one of my favorite characterization lines in recent reading history: “her lips were painted a shade of red that made me think of stop signs.” 

I was also interested in the religious component of the work. The cover and blurbs emphasize the lightening part, but the lightening addiction turned out to be secondary as it served primarily as a characterizing piece (I confess that I did crave more of it). The core of the work centered more around a dominant religion gaining traction and its false Prophet. Having lived in Utah for a while, some of it reminded me of op eds in Salt Lake City papers and blogs; pieces even used some of the same colloquial phrases I’d heard there.

The book read very quickly. 


Notes for Writers:

Bosworth employed a count down to the final storm and ever few chapters let us know that it was x number of days before the storm which assisted in creating anticipation and helped the pacing. She also used shorter chapters and paragraphs to keep things moving along quite rapidly, and she made great use of action verbs. All of these techniques made this book read more quickly for me than any in a while.

While a very fun read,  I also selected this book because I saw Bosworth speak at SCBWI Los Angeles about gaining publicity – even as an introvert. She stated that she believed that being sincere, kind, and oneself is the best way to market (I’m inclined to agree!). I will note that she was all of the above there, and she continued to be the same at YA in the Sun, an event I attended last month in San Diego. Her dedication to kindly and persistently promoting her book got me to buy it. In her SCBWI presentation, she also said that she has learned that the personal touches have great power and said that a quick video of her opening the hardcover of Struck has gotten as much positive response as her amazing expensive and cinematic trailer did, reminding authors that being human and real is great marketing.

at YA Under the Sun -- so many stars!
Mat Raney (Jim Morgan and the King of Thieves) , Jennifer Bosworth (Struck), and Marie Lu (Legend)


A Good Read For: Anyone interested in fast-paced dystopian and/or religious culture clash themes.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Sunshine Blog Award



Thanks to my friend Kristy Shen over at Two Nerds. One Dream. Zero Results for tagging Thinking to Inking for the Sunshine Blog Award!  Kristy is a very talented writer (and her posts are hilarious.)  Hop over to her blog and say hello!

Sunshine blog award

As part of the award, I've been asked to answer a few questions.  So here goes...

1. What is your favorite Christmas/festive movie?

I am (and always will be) obsessed with The Nightmare Before Christmas.  It's one of those stories that makes me want to tell stories.  There was a time in my life when I watched the VHS (yes, VHS) so many times that the tape actually wore down.

Merry Christmas!
2. What is your favorite flower?

Flowers that grow in San Francisco

I love these yellow trumpet flowers.  They grow all over the place in San Francisco.  In fact, there is a tree of them growing next to my building.  I live on the second floor and my home office overlooks the tree - when the blinds are down and a hummingbird is feeding, they make this amazing, almost surreal, shadow.

3.  What is your favorite non-alcoholic beverage?

That's hilarious!

Oh, wait. You were serious.

Then I guess it would have to be Diet Coke. Delicious and caffeinated - two things that make me happy.

4.  What is your passion?

Writing has been my passion for as long as I can remember. I don't think I could pursue this crazy publishing thing if it weren't something I was truly, deeply passionate about.

I'm also really passionate about getting a dog. Specifically, I want this one:

Adorable Havanese puppyHavanese puppyHavanese puppy

I KNOW, right?  His or her name will be Monster or Muppet. The only thing holding me back is the pesky no-pet policy on my lease. Thank goodness for that negotiations class I took in business school (I hope...)

Stay tuned for updates on little Monster or Muppet!

5.  What is your favorite time of year?

Now that I live in SF, I'd have to go with Sept/Oct. The actual summer is really cold in San Francisco because the fog rolls in regularly (and by really cold I mean 50...I know, I know.  But it's cold to my thin skin!)  Our real summer starts in late summer/early fall, when we finally get sunny, happy 70 degree days.  Come visit!

6. What is your favorite time of day?

Nighttime.  Mornings remind me of alarm clocks, and alarm clocks make me sad.

7.  What is your favorite physical activity?

I go to a weekly Zumba class at my gym, and I luuuurv it.  It's like adult dance class.

crazy lady dancing in zumba class

That's not me, but that's probably what my face looks like during class.

8. What is your favorite vacation spot?

Oooh, this is a tough one because I love to travel.  This past May the hubby and I went to Barcelona to see a friend of ours and had an amazing time.  We're planning to go back this May, and may hit up Morocco or another country as well.

For our honeymoon we traveled around Japan and I fell in love with Kyoto.  We were married in the fall, so we were there when all the leaves were changing.  It was sooo beautiful.  

The Golden Temple in Kyoto

While I was in business school I had the opportunity to go to Columbia.  I never would have put Columbia on my list of top ten place to visit if I hadn't experienced it first hand.  Now I would recommend it to everyone, especially Cartagena.  So beautiful!!

CartagenaCartagena beachesCartagenaCartagena beach

And at least once a year I make a trip back to Texas to see the family. That's kind of like it's own country, right?

Texas

That's all I got!  Thanks again to Kristy for the award!



Monday, November 26, 2012

Villain of the Month: The White Witch (Jadis)


And the villain for this month…NanoWriMo! Just kidding (though, at this point, I am finding it a considerable nemesis). This month’s villain is The White Witch (a.k.a Jadis) of C.S. Lewis fame.

In case you’ve never read or seen The Chronicles of Narnia (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is #1), the Witch’s presence is first felt when the child protagonists climb through a wardrobe into a tyrannized land that is perpetually stuck in a non-Christmased winter. The land is under the reign of the White Witch who exemplifies the traits outlined in The Dictator’s Handbook (basic premise: economics of a “great” dictator is to always do the thing that will keep you in power regardless of any human cost.)

Here are some of the evil trademarks that have landed her on so many “Top Literary Villain” lists. Note: most of the techniques/tropes are borrowed from classic texts and made fresh for Lewis’s day.
  • ·      Perpetual winter. What a use of setting as characterization! And talk about power; this chick has power over even the elements. We’ve seen this power before in mythology (Persephone is kept in the underworld half the year while the rest of us suffer through sun-free days because her momma misses her), and winterizing as punishment is popular with good reason. If winter represents the dark times in our lives (great for growing humans and plants), then being trapped in perpetual winter is more than dangerous. It leaves us void of hope, and brings to mind societies trapped under oppressive regimes whose greatest indignity is being robbed of hope for a “sunny day.”
Writing Takeaway: If you want to make your audience hate you, tyrannize them in only “winter” (At SCBWI NYC last year, Chris Crutcher claims that he always strives to go as deeply funny as he goes deeply sad).

  •      Turning enemies to stone. Hmmm… sounds a bit like Medusa. Or to combine winter with this, Dante’s Inferno. Dante believed that the worst punishment was to be frozen at the center of hell. To be unable to move forward. To be able to see, but not react. Not move. What evil.
Writing Takeaway: Keep your plot moving so that you don’t turn your readers to stone.

  •  Network of spies. There is no privacy; even the trees are spies (and C.S. Lewis didn’t even have articles like this for inspiration) 

  •       Beautiful façade. She’s beautiful. Taller than most. And inviting. And gives poisoned candy to children. In fact, she is so beautiful, rich, and powerful that she becomes paranoid/terrified that life as she knows it will be taken away (ironic that she is so scared she wants to force that kind of growth-punishing stagnation on herself) that she is willing to destroy children. Sounds like pretty much every dictatorship I’ve ever read about.


That said, happy winter, everybody (literally and metaphorically)! Feel free to enjoy the snow, storms, mittens, Chuao/La Maison/Marie Belle/Chocolate Springs etc. hot cocoa, and cozy fires because the summer is coming. The White Witch is not here; there will be spring again.  :)

My favorite way to warm up from the literal & metaphorical cold.
(La Maison NYC= $8 of happiness!)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Why First Drafts Suck and Why That's Okay

Hemingway writing

"The first draft of anything is sh*t." 
-Ernest Hemingway

I'm working on a new first draft. For the first time in over a year, I'm sitting down in front of my computer and staring at a blank page. Sometimes the words appear in my mind and flow seamlessly through my fingers to the screen. Sometimes I feel like I'm wrestling them into place. But either way, I'm pretty happy with my progress at the moment.

A few years ago, I wouldn't have called myself a writer by any stretch of the imagination. I had written a few short stories, but I was a perfectionist. This meant every sentence got dissected right after it was written—and more often than not, it got deleted because it sounded stupid, or I freaked out about it not having the right lyrical flow, or I thought of a better idea for the beginning ten pages in and deleted the whole thing to start over.

The idea of writing a novel crossed my mind and was immediately dismissed. I made up stories in my head all the time, but I knew writing them down would mean years of arduous deleting and rewriting.

Then came the turning point. My husband suggested something that had never occurred to me: why not just write the draft, without any changes? When I protested that I couldn't let the words sit there like that, he said I could use a separate document to note changes to go back and do later--but in the meantime, I could carry on with the draft.

Mind blown Burt

I tried out this process, and it really, really works for me. I outline the novel, and then I just write. Notes for what isn't working or what needs to be changed later or great new ideas go in a separate "Things to Change" document.

Now, here's the thing. My first drafts are hideous. Some people like to refer to first drafts as "vomit drafts," and this is most definitely accurate for mine. Locations change mid-stream. People who died in the last chapter magically jump back in because I thought of something else for them to do. Someone who starts out as mousy and shy in the first few chapters becomes a confident hussy in the last few.

But that's okay.

The magic happens in the revisions. I go straight down my Things to Change list and mold characterizations, plot, and setting into something that makes sense. Then I go over it again, and again (and about seven more times, but you don't really need to hear about all of those). 

Manuscript revision


The point is, writing this way lets me actually finish drafts. I've met an awful lot of people who tell me, "Oh, I'm writing a novel too. I started a few years ago and I have fifty pages done." They never got past the first draft. Now I tell them about my method. 

I've become a vomit draft evangelist! And I must be doing something right, because I've completed three novels and am working on my fourth.

What's your first draft process? Do you agonize over every word, or vomit it out?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Writers Resource: Word of Mouth Marketing Via Networking

I've worked in marketing for the last 10 years, and while I'm only in the agent querying stage of my writing journey, I can't help but imagine the magical day when I may have to put my day job skills to work to help sell my book.  *crosses fingers, toes, arms and legs* 

My day job has taught me that consumers love to share their opinions, and thanks to social media they have a way to share their opinions with the masses, for better or worse.  Companies want consumers to spread the word about their brands and products, and so many brands spend significant resources developing platforms that encourage and enable sharing.  

Think about the brands you purchased on your most recent trek to Target - every single one has a webpage, and most likely that webpage has some kind of rating/review tool to encourage visitors to review and comment about their products.  They probably have a Facebook page, and may even have a hashtag or Pintrest page. (Yes, brands use Pintrest too!)  Most likely they sponsor and/or contribute to a blog about topics related to their product category. When a new product launches, the marketers behind the scenes may send free samples to well known bloggers in the hopes that they will blog about it and you will read about it.  They may host a contest, encouraging you to like them on Facebook so your friends will learn about the new product.

Do any of these things sound familiar?  Yeah, turns out that brands with multi-million dollar budgets use some of the exact same tactics that authors use when trying to sell their books.

Of course the big difference is that brands have millions of dollars to help build awareness for their products, and awareness is how people know to go to their website, Facebook page or enter their contest in the first place. As a debut author, you're going to have to rely on the most valuable (and free) resource you have available to build awareness - your network.  

You will need people to read your story and go onto Goodreads, Amazon and Barnes and Nobles to rate and review your book.  Goodreads in particular requires several hundred reviews in order for a book to leverage its recommendation tool (here is a great article that explains how books are discovered on Goodreads.)  

That means you are going to need to rely on more than family and close friends - you're going to have to seek out people who will not only read your book, but engage in activities that will help to spread the word.

Here are a few things you can do today to help build a network of people that will spread the word about your book when your magical publishing day comes.

1.  Don't be a lurker


People want to support the people who support them, and one of the easiest ways to build a network is to actively network and engage with like-minded writers via social media.  You're probably already doing this to some degree, but how engaged are you?  Are you lurking around sites, forums and blogs, reading but never commenting?  If so, it's time to stop lurking and get to know the writing community.   
  • Don't just follow blogs - leave comments. Let people know that you're there. Tell them when they've written something that resonates with you. Tweet about the posts you've enjoyed or found interesting.
  •  Get involved in blog contests beyond simply entering. Leave encouraging posts for your fellow writers, even if you didn't make it into the final round.  If you see an entry that sounds fantastic, tell that person. Seek them out on twitter and share your encouraging words. If you see an entry you think needs some work, find a way to offer constructive and helpful criticism. Become a resource to your fellow writers.
  • Become actively involved on writing forums like AgentQuery Connect.  Get to know the others writers on there by engaging with them and supporting their efforts.  Don't just use the resources, be a resource for others by commenting on queries and offering help and feedback.
  • Don't just swap business cards at writing conferences - follow up. Send your new writer friend a note telling them it was nice to meet them.  Follow their blog and find them on twitter. Engage with them long after the conference is over.

2.  Use the 5:3:2 rule for social media networking


Nobody wants to be friends with the person who only talks shop, but nobody wants to network with someone who doesn't bring anything to the table. The key is balance.  For every 10 tweets/blogposts/etc:
  • 5 should be sharing content from others that is relevant to the writing community.
  • 3 should be sharing content from you that is relevant to the writing community, but not trying to sell something (i.e. progress made on your new WIP, a book you just read and loved.)
  • 2 should be something personal and non-writing related, so that people can get to know the non-writer you.

3.  Pay it forward


Become a reviewer.  Rate and review books on Goodreads, Amazon and B&N. If you hear that someone in your network is releasing a book, show your support for that person by buying their book and reviewing it.  Then spread the word.

Invite up and coming writers to guest blog.  Let them benefit from your network. Give other writers the awareness building platform that you one day hope to have.  

4.  Be genuine


Ever become friends with someone on Facebook only to have their person agenda constantly thrown at you?  Or maybe you started following a new author on twitter, and all they ever do is talk about their book.

Don't be that person.  Yes, you are building a network that you may one day need to lean on, but you're also opening yourself up to a new community of friends.  Treat them the way you want to be treated.  

What are some other tactics you've used to build your a network?