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Networking for Dummies

YA Highway contributor Kristin Briana Otts joins us from Teens Writing for Teens, a seriously stellar group blog penned by teen writers of all ages. For more about Kristin, visit our Who We Are page.
Networking. It is by far the scariest word in the publishing world. Query? Oh yeah – the word “query” makes amateur novelists break into a cold sweat. Speak the name of a writer’s dream agent and she gets inevitable goosebumps. But nothing compares to the dreaded N word.

I was terrified of this “networking” concept mostly because I had no clue what it meant. I had a vague idea that it involved stalking well-known writers, sending them candy and pink paper hearts, and begging them to be my friend. This idea appealed to my inner fangirl, but not my sense of dignity, so I eventually decided against it.

Instead, I started a blog.

At first it was a bit of a joke. “Right – because the world really wants to read about a college kid’s journey to publication.” And at first, no one really did. A comment here, a comment there – mostly from long-time friends or family members. I shrugged it off and decided that my original assessment was correct. Nobody cared.

And then an extraordinary thing happened. I stopped caring too. At least, I stopped caring about the popularity of my blog, and I started paying more attention to other things. Like the other amateur writers blogging their way through the publication process. Like the talented teens who were pounding out their first query letter for a fabulous fantasy novel. Like the debut authors hosting contests on their websites. I started talking with these amazing people. I started commenting on their websites, celebrating their victories with them, promoting their books.

And these people returned the favor. My blog suddenly had readers. I had friends editing my manuscript, recommending me to their agents, asking about the status of my WIPs. In short – I was networking.

The internet has made the world a very small place. Nowadays you don’t necessarily have to go to conferences or live in New York City to make contacts in the publishing industry. Sometimes it’s as simple as reviewing a debut author’s book, or offering to critique a friend’s manuscript, or editing a new writer’s query letter. Sometimes it’s simply about looking beyond yourself and asking what you can offer the world. You might be surprised what you receive in return.

--Kristin Briana Otts

(Photo by Hilde Vanstraelen)
Kirsten Hubbard

Kirsten is the author of Like Mandarin, Wanderlove, and the middle grade novel Watch the Sky.

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4 comments:

  1. Love this! I think I sort of went about this in the same way you did. Networking was almost an accident. But it sure is easier once you come out of your shell.

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  2. Great advice, Kristin. Networking has been one of the best things about this whole process; meeting like-minded, talented people to share experiences with is awesome.

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  3. Excellent post!

    It's all about showing genuine interest in others, not expecting anything in return.

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  4. Like Kaitlin said, I networked accidentally. But I'm so grateful. Supportive, talented, people with a love for the same things are such a valuable asset.
    And Michelle, I agree. 'Forced' networking isn't something I'd enjoy. The key is finding people you really want to get to know just because they're cool. And like moose. :)

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Item Reviewed: Networking for Dummies Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Kirsten Hubbard