Thursday, October 28, 2010

Building Your "Tribe"- Before Publication??? It's Who You Know

Two weeks ago I talked about building your "tribe" even before hitting publication. If holding that new novel with your name on the cover is your dream, there are steps you can take to help out the process before it crashes down on your newbieness with the force of a hurricane wind.

There is so much to learn and absorb, so much to understand in this big writing world. And with the more I learn, the more eager I am to dip my toe into the water and wade deeper. But before I am completely in over my head, there is so much more I can learn. And at this stage in the game, there is no reason to feel overwhelmed. We have the opportunity to learn so much before being thrown into the deep end of the pool. Why try to take a shortcut to publication? It will only cheapen the journey.

I didn't even begin to cover the full extent of the aspects of building a community of supporters and followers around you, so I thought a part 2 would be a good idea here. If you haven't read part 1, I urge you to do so, it explains "tribe" to a greater extent.

We have heard the phrase, "It's who you know." And I am not sure who coined the idea, but they were right. When it comes to publication, publishers won't take a chance on just anyone, and they are increasingly careful on the new writer just started out. So how do you get an agent or an editor to take a chance?

Jill Williamson and me
 Remember two weeks ago about blogging and developing a web presence? That is more than just interesting the public in your writing and your voice, you are giving a reference for an agent or editor that is seriously interested in your work, for them to go to and look into just what you write a daily basis. How do you come across on the screen?

In today's high tech age, no one can really get away from not being on the Internet. And blogging and being on the web has led me into some fabulous connections with some wonderful people. ACFW is just one such organization. And has put me into contact with authors, freelance editors, critique partners, friends, conference and workshops opportunities in my area. I have an endless supply at my fingertips and you just have to dip into it.

Susan May Warren and me
I have been blessed to be surrounded and know so many authors. Not only have I learned from them (and am learning), but have developed so many friendships. I find honor in getting to know them. And even if nothing ever came of knowing them, but the privilege, I would be perfectly content. (feeding off their successes is inspiration enough!) But in developing these contacts, there might be the opportunity to meet and be introduced to editors, agents or even someone who can take you farther down the journey toward publication.

Now, I'm not saying to meet and befriend authors just to climb the ladder higher. I am not saying that all. I am saying you can learn so much from them. Read their blogs on writing, or their acknowledgments in the back of their books. Because in doing this, you become more acclimated with the industry, understand the ins and outs. Know what you are getting into before you cannonball in head first.

By standing in the background and watching the busyness and excitement swirling around you, you will be better prepared to enter the fray if you know what to expect. And if you have someone to lead you into that circle and hold you steady in the frantic atmosphere, you won't be so easily overwhelmed and run over.

It is all about the relationhips you build with other writers in your genre, the genres surrounding you and the authors you love to read. These authors have a wealth of experience and knowledge that many are just dying to share. You simply have to ask. They have walked in your shoes, understand your struggles. Turn to them for help when the confusion hits an all new high. Or the swings of publication take you on a roller coaster ride you weren't expecting.
We don't need to look at the world as something to conquer and run over just to get to publication, but we do have to look at as an opportunity. Life is a job interview and the world of publication more so. It is well and good to make contacts and meet new people, shake their hand, chat a few minutes, glean from their knowledge and put a name to a face. But in the end, pushing publication faster down the track will not prepare you for the ride. Let God move in those circles. The greatest agent or editor to meet might not be for you if that isn't the house your book needs to be in. It is in those moments that you have to trust that God has your best interest at heart and will move in the right direction and circles that you need to be in.

But until then, be yourself, willing to work, have an eagerness to learn and a spirit of friendliness. Pray for God to put those people in your path that you need to meet and be ready to jump in when the time comes that you can help that person out. Don't do it expecting something back in the end, do it because it is the right thing to do. And do it because when the times comes and you need the help, you will have built up friendships and references that you can turn to for advice and help.

That in my own humble opinion is that greatest way of building assets, and your community of supports and followers and the truly wonderful relationships.

Any thoughts? I would love to hear them.


Sarah Forgrave said...

This is great, Casey! When I went to the ACFW conference this year, I was so thankful for my friends who are further along on the path than I am. In those moments when I fretted, "What should I say to super-star agent", they were the voice of reason. :-)

Casey said...

Thanks Sarah. That is what I thought of when I wrote this post. And someday, Lord willing, that I do go to ACFW, hopefully I will have built connacts that will be willing to help this newbie out. :)

Julia M. Reffner said...

"Why try to take a shortcut to publication? It will only cheapen the journey."

Great post. And you know I agree with you on this one. We have an AMAZING opportunity to learn and grow NOW. I was listening to the Agent Panel from 2008 and was struck by the agents saying within reason they want you to take your time to send in a piece, use many critique partners, this is the only time in your career when you don't have a built-in deadline so take advantage by making your work as perfect as possible.

Casey said...

Yes, that is so great isn't it Julia! I think I personally like, no, I KNOW I like to look too far down the road. To dream of the future, and while I think that is all well and good, I focus on it too much. RIGHT NOW I can learn. RIGHT NOW I can focus on the craft, RIGHT NOW I can grow and learn and travel where God wants me to go. Why rush the journey? I might miss something vitally important.

So thanks for commenting and giving me that little nudge I needed today in my writing. :)

Mary Vee Storyteller said...

Good points, Casey
Writing isn't alone in the field of nurture.
I don't think I've seen a 3-year-old CEO
I don't think I've seen a mature tree days after the seed was planted.
I don't think I've seen a quilt after the material was cut.
The list goes on...
and we won't have a book unless we've invested time, practice, study, and critique.

Casey said...

Very well said, Mary. Very well said. I think you should have written this post. :)

Cindy R. Wilson said...

Casey, you made some wonderful points in this post. Relationships are so important. You can learn something from everyone no matter where they are on the journey.

As far as learning from authors--another great point. We are so fortunate to have the opportunity to connect with authors through their blogs or through conferences. Taking what we can from their experience is smart and learning from them will help in the future.

I wish I would have understood this better when I first started writing. Not only have I learned so much from networking and getting to know other writers and authors, but I've also made some lasting friendships that have encouraged me with my writing as well as personally and spiritually.

Casey said...

Amen, Cindy. I feel blessed to have the chance to connect with other writers and authors. To really get my feet wet before diving into the deep end of the pool. And I DON'T have it all together. But I hope I will be just a few steps farther down the road when I get there. :)