Aloha from Karen Whiting
I am so thankful for relationships I’ve developed with writers, authors, and readers, in the world of publishing. It’s a small world in many ways and networking is vital to success. But it’s also a place of friendships and connections. So many of my contracts came from relationships I developed. And, when I’m having problems, the friends I’ve made pray and support me.
Think beyond contracts and what you can get, to what you can give and how you can extend friendship.
My husband battled breast cancer the past few years and many writers, editors, and others in the industry prayed and encouraged me. Jim passed away early this month and the same people plus newer friends showered me with cards and encouragement.
Editors have been gracious in holding off on contracts and articles from me. I’m back into writing a bit now and have already started chatting with editors and others about projects in progress and others to come.
My advice is to consider each person you meet in your writing career as a friend and a valuable network link. It’s amazing what can happen, so here area few examples:
1. A newbie writer I met when I was also a newbie landed a contract and later connected me to his editor who contracted a book with me.
2. I’ve met many magazine editors over the years and wrote for several. When I have a new book I find that each one is open to ideas related to the new releases that fit their magazine. I have a good idea what can fit so my pitches are usually accepted right away. I have a backlog of articles editors are interested in from me but knowing my circumstance they also told me there’s no rush-any time I can do them will be good. They trust that I will get to things as soon as I can and I plan to do just that.
3. Editors move around. They switch houses, and sometimes switch from being editors to being agents or freelance writers. That can open other doors. I really liked one editor and his wife. I profiled him for a magazine and started him on going to writer conferences. When that editor moved to a new publishing house he called me to see what I could submit to him. That led to a number of book contracts.
4. As I met writers I was invited to join a new group to help promote books- CAN– and it has been a great group for sharing information, helping one another promote books, and for support during hard times (and for others during their dry times).
5. I’m also in a few other groups for writers (AWSA and The View) that have been great for networking, learning, and making new friends.
6. I’ve met and collaborated on projects because of developing relationships in the industry. That led to a few co-authored books.
7. Marketing is so much better with others! From doing joint ventures with a critique group to multi-author book signings because of CAN and other groups I’ve discovered how much better it is to team up in marketing. Even little things, like creating bookmarks with other authors so we can each distribute the bookmarks that advertise all of us and our books, helps spread the word. Anything you can do solo can be better if you do it as a team. That’s the philosophy behind CAN.
8. Through groups and other authors I’ve received tips and leads that led to contracts. Sharing and networking forward is such a blessing! I try to do that for others too and have felt so happy for friends that landed contracts after I connected them with an editor that I thought would be a good fit.
9. Sometimes editors and publishers do more because you have a relationship. Because I know my publisher and marketing director of my inspirational craft books I let them know about an opportunity I had to promote books at the International Christian Retail Show in July, 2012. So, they sent me the art for the book cover and some of the pages to use in a presentation to promote the book to retailers before the release (coming soon) and had a large poster made and mounted for display at the event. When I’ve done a book signing during Christian Store Week they did a press release and got it in the industry news.
10. Be sure to notice efforts and be surprised. This week I discovered another publisher had my new co-authored book (Stories of Faith and Courage from the Home Front) prominently displayed in Lifeway Stores. That’s super and my co-author and I have each done a number of books with them and keep in touch so that helps them want to push the marketing (they know we do our part so it’s a team effort). We will applaud the effort and let them know we noticed. I’ll get in touch with a Lifeway Store about an hour away to see if they want me to come and add to this effort.
So, when you meet an editor or author, do more than pitch ideas. Get to know the person. Chat about their interests and lives. Send cards at Christmas or Easter and remember them during editor appreciation week.
Praise others when they help you and return the favor. Consider this industry a team effort and work with others as a team player.
And when you meet me, ask for my card and let’s start building a friendship!