Sunday, December 07, 2008

The Importance of Networking

If you fly Delta, check out Sky Magazine this month. There's a full-page interview with yours-truly, regarding my writing career and my Caribbean mystery series. The Q &A centers around research, travel, and inspiration and obviously that's a large part of the writing experience. But what so many people miss about building a writing career is the networking.

I started attending mystery conferences about twelve years ago. No book published, not even a very good manuscript, but I went to the Bouchercon conference to work, not to necessarily enjoy myself or just observe. I wanted to meet authors, publishers, agents, and come back with a clear idea of what I had to do to sell my first book. I took notes, I walked into groups of writers and I asked questions. I met publishers and agents, and stuck my nose in a number of places I had no business being. I collected business cards, phone numbers and e mail addresses. And I came home with answers.

At a Left Coast Crime convention in Arizona, I paid $560 for a manuscript critique with Sue Grafton. Long story ( too long for here) short, she championed my cause and introduced me the following year at another Bouchercon conference. Four weeks later I signed a contract with St. Martin's Press. By the time the book was released, I had blurbs from Lee Child, Kent Krueger, and Sue Grafton. All due to networking.

I talk to a number of new writers who feel awkward asking questions. They are intimidated by the professionals, and so they sit back and don't interact. I've talked to dozens of people who want to be an active participant in the writing community, but they don't want to spend the time or money to attend the conferences. I don't know any other way to do it. Have some people been successful just writing a book, sending it to an agent, and sitting back waiting for fame and fortune? Certainly. Want to double your chances? Want to triple, quadruple your chances?

Network. Email your favorite author, and ask questions that are important to you. Find a conference in your area ( there are dozens of them around the country), find a literary figure in your town, attend book signings and talk to the authors before or after the presentation. Talk to agents, publishers, reviewers. Stay in touch with them, thank them for their generosity, and let them know who you are. When you feel you're ready to submit your manuscript, you'll have a built-in support group. People who've gotten to know you and are pulling for your success.

Network. I don't know any other way to do it. If I hadn't met Sue Grafton, Charlie Spicer from St. Martin's Press, Bob and Pat Gussin from Oceanview Publishing, author Mary Stanton, and the dozens of other good friends I've become very close to, I'd still be unpublished. I'm sure of it. Get out there and get involved. Meet the people who are making things happen. It's all worth it in the end.

(Don Bruns is a musician/author who's 8th book Stuff Dreams Are Made Of released in September. You can read more about Don at www.donbrunsbooks.com (( including the complete Sue Grafton connection story)) or in the Delta/Sky magazine in-flight, or on-line).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hello Type M for Murder and thanks Don Bruns for networking this blog into my day.
Networking is many times done when you don't realize its being done. And that's unfortunate for those doing it.
To be good at networking, be aware of when its taking place and make the most of it. Leave a foot print where ever you go. One day, don't be surprised when someone tracks you down.

Zz