First, a disclaimer. I launched this series a few months ago with a bold declaration: I’d write and publish my first book—blogging about the process all the while—in just 12 months. But in the months following the post on creating a daily writing habit … Crickets.
Difficult as it is to admit my failings and keep plodding along in the face of public embarrassment, my hope is that continuing the series (on a slightly adjusted timeline) will be inspirational in its own way.
After all, we’re people first, writers second. People fall prey to errant plans and countless flaws. Life (or our own brain) gets in the way, and our writing projects—often the most important but least urgent items on our to-do list—take a backseat. Without externally imposed deadlines, we often fail to keep the agreements we’ve made with ourselves. (Or, at least, I do.)
When that happens, all we can do is pick ourselves up, brush ourselves off, and keep doing the work. That’s what Steven Pressfield says, anyway, and I’m inclined to believe him. Stay tuned for a post later this month about what we can learn from these “off the wagon” moments in our writing, when we aren’t so much “blocked” as wholly derailed.
In the meantime, we’re deep into author conference season, which is the perfect time to explore the theme of Networking for our first post “back” in the Zero to Indie Author series.
Networking has gotten a bad rap over the years, which is a shame. It isn’t about exploitation—it’s about learning. The purpose is to exchange information and develop mutually beneficial relationships. Many authors, including D2D’s own Kevin Tumlinson and Nick Thacker, met their indie author besties by networking. It might just happen that way for you, too.
In that spirit, here are the best in-person and online spots to develop your indie author network.
In-person networking for indie authors
Author conferences are quite possibly the best place to network—in real life, anyway. The internet offers quantity, but the contacts you make at an author conference are all about quality.
In their recent discussion about author conferences, our resident experts unanimously agreed that the topmost benefit of attending an author conference isn’t the information gained in lectures. It’s networking. Networking is so valuable that Nick Thacker recommends posting up at the venue bar if you can’t score a conference ticket. Some of the best interactions take place when the lectures are over and happy hour has begun.
Networking is a bit trickier as a virtual attendee, but not impossible. If joining a conference online is your only option, take advantage of any online networking opportunities available. Meeting just a few people is far better than meeting none.
Here’s a list of upcoming conferences you may want to attend. Some are in-person only, but many offer hybrid online options.
- 20 Books—Nov 8-12, 2021
- North Carolina Writers’ Network—Nov 19-21, 2021)
- Superstars Writing Seminar—Feb 9-12, 2022
- AWP Conference—Mar 23-26, 2022
- Chanticleer Authors’ Conference—Apr 7-10, 2022
- The Muse and the Marketplace—Apr 27-May 8, 2022
- Northern Colorado Writers Conference—April 28-30, 2022
Local writing groups all over the country (and around the globe) offer writing workshops. These generally focus on learning specific elements of craft, like how to plot a novel or develop your characters. They’re also the perfect place to meet like-minded writers looking to acquire the same skills you are. Some authors we’ve interviewed for Self-Publishing Insiders even met their writing partners at a workshop. Whether you meet your collaboration buddy or not, the odds are high that you’ll at least meet some like-minded locals to trade critiques with.
Local writing events
National writing challenges like NaNoWriMo often result in local “write-ins,” where authors show up at the same place and type (or scribble) away together. Events like these are a great way to connect with other authors in your area, with an added perk: they are often free.
Most industry insiders are also avid readers. Book festivals are a fantastic opportunity to network with publishers, editors, cover designers, agents …. You name it. Whenever a group of industry-minded professionals come together, it’s an excellent opportunity to rub shoulders. Do a quick search for upcoming book festivals in your area; most cities have at least one a year.
Online networking for indie authors
Facebook is an indie author marketing standby for a reason: writers and readers alike are there in droves, and private Facebook groups make it easy to connect with people who share your interests. Enjoy writing cozy mysteries that include dogs? There’s probably a Facebook group for that.
These groups offer a little something for everyone: writers interested in craft across genres, indie authors looking for marketing tips, and excellent market research. Do a search for your genre of choice on Facebook, and you’ll probably see several groups pop up.
Online writing forums
Much like the online version of writing workshops, but with looser timelines. Some, like Writers’ Village University, require paid subscriptions to access both educational content and opportunities for critique. Others are more like online discussion boards.
If the pace of Facebook is a bit too frenetic for your taste, or if social media simply isn’t your scene, search for genre-specific writing forums and join the conversation there.
Yes, there are subreddits for writing! Redditers are probably already familiar with options like Writers’ Group, which offers peer-to-peer critique of writing work. As with other platforms, try searching for your genre of choice and see what comes up.
This new social media platform is picking up steam with authors who use it to chat about the inside baseball of indie authorship or discuss their favorite books—which makes it another perfect corner of the internet to meet like-minded folks.