crowsWriting, as many of you know, is one of the most universally lonely art forms. Don’t believe me? Just ask Emily Dickinson. Of course, if Ms. Dickinson were alive today, she’d probably be tweeting like a fool. I can see it now: I’m Nobody says: “Because I overfilled my tweets,/They stopped following me./I only need a few more marks./Like 143.”

Networking is much easier today than it was during Emily’s time. I recently attended a conference where at least a dozen people approached me to me and say they’re following my tweets and this blog. This is an “in” they may not have had before. And networking allows word to spread quickly–people asked how the new agency was going (great!), what I thought the Phillies chances were in the postseason (so-so), and if my rash had cleared up yet (not all the way, but it’s getting there). This level of connectivity wasn’t present at conferences I attended even as recently as last spring.

I’ve spoken about social networking before and won’t rehash it here, but I’m beginning to see networking pay dividends. Writers from across the country know each other personally, are sharing and improving their work in online critique groups, and are better able to find things in common with editors or agents in order to better target their work.

With the networking playing field becoming more even, what’s going to set you and your work apart? Great writing, of course! It’s a common refrain we’ll shout again and again, but for all the tools out there, the writing trumps all.

Care to share how networking has helped you thus far in your writing career? We’d love to know!

  1. Where do I begin? I’ve met bestselling writers via Twitter and interviewed them on my blog. I’ve had referrals to agents from published writers. I’ve met agents and had my work requested by them as a direct result of Twitter and my blog. I even had a query passed on, and then retrieved by a co-agent at an agency because she liked my tweets and blog so much. They’re currently reviewing my first 100 pages. It’s been AMAZING!!!

    I can’t say enough about how much networking, particularly via Twitter, has changed my life over the past couple of months. It’s like the walls have come down, and we’re all on the same playing field. We can see each other, joke with each other, and share snippets of life together. Like you said, writing still trumps all, but I’ve got partials and fulls out there I wouldn’t have had without these networking tools.


  2. I like the solitude that writing requires, but I also need a community. Interacting with fellow writers and bloggers has helped so much with that.

    I also found my current online writing group, a group of excellent writers and lovely human beings, from connections I made on the Blue Boards and in kidlitsphere.

    Poor Emily.


  3. Mostly networking has brought me an array of wonderful writing buddies. Some of the critique my work; others simply encourage me day by day. I’ve met some agents (some repeatedly) at conferences, and it’s been nice to know a little more about them. I have a friend who met her editor at a conference and wow-ed her to the extent that she requested her book…from that point, of course, the writing had to do it. I’m not much of a wow-er, I don’t think. But I wouldn’t give up my writing buddies for anything!


  4. I’ve been internet networking for the entire 9 years of my writing career so far. Without the internet I never would have met any of the writers, editors, and agents that have helped me improve my writing and have steered me toward the opportunities that have led to where I am today. I feel, as a writer, being able to present myself and meet people via the written word is a boon. Interacting on message boards, in chats, on Facebook, on Twitter — all are great ways to find your footing in this as a career. And also a great way to meet like-minded friends.

    Thank you, internet. You suck away my days, but at least I got something out of it in return.


  5. Being a part of the online debut author’s group, The Class of 2k9 has heightened my visibility (and more importantly, the visibility of my book) quite a bit. Each time one of our authors gets interviewed on a blog or has a contest, etc, this leads readers to our group site. I can now go into a children’s bookstore or library and mention my affiliation with 2k9 and many times, eyes will light up. Even though my book is not out yet, I feel I already have some credibility within the field, which is nice.
    We have also, as a group, shared all the highs, lows and questions that come with being a new author – an invaluable and lovely experience.

    The only drawback to the online stuff is how distracting it can be!!!
    Like right now, I should be revising my next novel and not commenting on your blog.
    Ok, back to work for me.
    After tweeting, that is.


  6. I’ve found that networking has allowed me to “meet” some truly wonderful, helpful people. Writers who say ‘Let me look at your submission before you send it off because I want you to get a contract.’ That’s just simply amazing. Of course, it also allows the fangirl to come out and Squee on all of her favorite authors’ pages. Ahem. I don’t do it that often.

    Anyway, there was a point to this. I think it was…oh yes, I remember now. 🙂 Networking has helped motivate me to write whether it’s writing groups or blogs, or tweeting. It’s all connected and it’s fantastic.

    I’m going to agree with Bev though. If I’m anywhere near the computer I have a compulsive need to lurk on facebook for hours on end even though nothing is going on…because something MIGHT happen and I want to be there when it does. Sad.


  7. I’ve met local writers online & then in person–very fun!

    I’ve seen postings for writing work that I’ve followed up on (still have fingers crossed).

    An editor who I met online told me she’ll buy my critique-group book & quote from it at SCBWI conferences.

    An editor read a book review I wrote on my blog & asked me to submit a manuscript to her.

    There is no way to quantify whether the time I spend online pays off in opportunities or even friendships. I do believe it’s doing SOMETHING. And luckily, I love it. 🙂


  8. I’ve made a lot of great contacts in the industry…editors, agents, authors and people in the unpublished-but-hopeful crowd. Some of these folks have become my blogging buddies, and maybe they’ll help me get published. Who knows?! But you’re right, da writing is #1.


  9. Facebook and Twitter are fun, but my most valuable online resource has been Backspace, the writers’ community,, where the published and the unpublished are incredibly supportive of each other, and industry insiders, including agents, editors and publicists, generously share their expertise.


  10. Best. Emily poem spoof. EVAR.


  11. Don’t twitter, barely blog, but I follow (with gratitude) a lot of other people who do. I’ve bought books based on people’s beautifully written blog entries. I’ve “met” a few writer’s online, but it’s been most valuable to meet people at conferences (out of which my critique groups have formed).

    I don’t think it’s a big deal to network with agents or editors. If they hear you read your work and like it, that’s different; otherwise, it’s just for fun and for practice in acting normal in the presence of Famous Editor or Agent who really only cares about your work. FE is probably not going to remember the laughs I imagined we shared at conference dinner table. Michael Stearns is not going to remember borrowing a pen from me or whatever two-second interchange we had at some conference way back. So, for me networking is more about meeting other writers, swapping our highs and lows, and metaphorically holding each other’s hands. Invaluable.


  12. Regarding social networking . . . um . . . tis the stuff movies are made of–say the latest hit, JULIE & JULIA. Contrast that with but a few pages into THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY and I for one am ready to nix any and all ties to cyberspace–what is a writer to do . . . as I sing to the choir?!


  13. Your photograph is from “The Birds”….yes? The black and white version.

    So much better than the colorized one I rented for my kids and husband recently. The b/w one wasn’t available. But it truly makes the film work.


  14. […] West wonderfully pointed out, is a solitary occupation. We know this. But we also know that networking can help abate just how lonely the writers have to feel. And conferences. And going outside to […]


  15. […] Seriously. (Janet Reid––Talking Websites, What Authors Can Do to Sell Books, Joanna Penn & Upstart Crow’s thoughts on networking are just a […]


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