I’ve been thinking about my involvement in social media, podcasting and general networking, specifically with a focus on how I hope it will help me get my work published. I’ve come to a conclusion and it is this: the people who podcast thinking it will get them published directly are missing the point.
Now, if you’ve read any of my posts, you know that I rarely make inflammatory comments. It’s not that I’m afraid of starting controversy, but rather I just don’t care to do so. So why do I make one now (and yes, I know on the flame scale it still rates pretty low)?
Let me put it this way; those of us who listen to podcasts know of at least one (and likely several) podcasters who have managed a book contract. Naturally, if you jump to conclusions you might do the calculation: write something + podcast it = book contract.
That has been true in a couple situations but if you really start to look under the covers you will find an individual who has been working his/her butt off to get their work out there. Often, although we don’t necessary realize it, the work is put under contract because of the author’s hard work and outreach, not because it was podcast.
This leads me to the point of this post (I knew I’d get there eventually): podcasters and people involved in social media are exactly that, involved. Those people are actively seeking out an audience and talking about what they do and THAT is my point.
At the end of the day it doesn’t matter whether you podcast your work or not. What matters is that you engage people. Do it through a blog, Twitter, Facebook, podcasts, whatever. Just do it.
Let me give you a couple of personal examples of how I have reached out and made some great contacts which, I believe, is helping me move forward in my quest for publication.
- I have volunteered for the past six years at the Calgary Young Writer’s Conference – this volunteering hasn’t gotten me any editor/publisher contacts, but it has let me meet some amazing writers. Writers who have become my mentors in various ways. It has also given me contacts within the Conference committee so I can become a guest presenter when I get a book published. Immediate access to my fans.
- I talk to those writers you see sitting alone at book signings. This has introduced me to more great writers including one who I consider a mentor and guide. It also gives me insight to how the publishers work and what can work/not work in signings.
- I’ve attended conventions with other writers. I’ve met several publishers who have considered my work and given me guidance. In many cases, these publishers have given me insight about my work that I wouldn’t have received through traditional submissions. I’ve also gotten good insight into the publishing industry through these publishers. The authors I’ve met have shared their experiences with me and made suggestions that have helped me to improve my craft. This advice has been worth its weight in gold.
- Podcasting. I can’t even begin to tell you how much great advice I’ve gotten through my podcasting. I’ve made connections with Publishers, Editors and Authors who all have valuable things to say. I’ve learned about contests and submission opportunities and what to do and not to do in my writing and submissions. I have had the benefit of meeting and connecting with the wonderful people who make up my audience and I’ve become a member of the dynamic podcasting community.
- Blogging. Just writing down some of the challenges and successes I’ve had has really put things into perspective for me. The added bonus of growing a reading audience is exactly that, a bonus. Having the site also shows perspective publishers that I care about having a presence.
- Twitter/Facebook. I’m lumping these together even though they are very different. At the end of the day both tools (and they ARE tools) allow me to get to know people I never would have met before in a very personal way. I’m getting contacts this way, it’s true, but I’m also making friends. An even more valuable thing. AND I hear about all the cool things (like contests and open submissions) that I wouldn’t have known about otherwise.
- NanoWriMo. I’ve tried to be involved in the regional group as a cheerleader, writer and mentor. This increases my local exposure as well as allows me to help others with their craft. I’ve made several friends through NanoWriMo.
I’m sure I’ve done other things, but you get the point. There are TONS of ways to get involved with people through your writing. These connections may help you get published and they may not. But having a community you can rely on is so important. Having your own group of cheerleaders can always prop you up when you’re down and you never know if it will translate into a sale. I’m still waiting for that first contract, but I know it’s coming and that’s largely because of the people I’ve met through my efforts.
I discovered that this blog has made it to the short list of the “Author Blog Awards”. I’m up against some pretty tough competition (i.e. Neil Gaiman) so I could really use your votes. Go to http://tinyurl.com/ydusrwo and vote for me. Did I mention that anyone participating in the vote is eligable for prizes? I didn’t? Well, let me tell you, several publishers are offering books and other prizes to any people that vote. Look for www.michellplested.com and vote for me. And before I leave this topic, thank you to everyone who nominated me to make it this far.