I love to write, and over the years, related activities have become just as enjoyable and important to me– things like researching the market, educating myself, networking, and building community. I have put together a list of some of my favorite activities and resources for anyone who cares. Please, bear in mind, each writer must find her own way. What works for me may not work for others. Also, the activities and resources listed here are a small representation of what’s available to writers.
I love attending conferences and have made many industry and local contacts through them. I used to attend conferences with the purpose of selling a book. While that is an important goal, I now attend more for mingling and developing relationships.
Local conferences are usually a good entry point. A Google search can bring those up.
Traveling to conferences can get expensive, but the good ones are worth the journey.
Research every conference thoroughly before attending. Some are money makers and downright predatory. I like to check Absolute Write Water Cooler for comments about conferences. I have found that conferences that are run by reputable organizations, such as SCBWI, are usually helpful and safe.
Researching the Market
For as long as I have been writing, I have been researching the market, and I am constantly keeping up with my research because the market changes so much. My best research usually happens whenever I query a manuscript because that’s when knowing the market really matters. Here are some of my go-to sites for finding recent book and publishing news:
–Twitter – Agents and editors constantly announce book deals and news. Follow your favorite industry pros to get their latest tweets.
–Media Bistro – Posts jobs in the publishing industry
Querying Agents and Editors
I am constantly revising my query letters, and I always check the reputation, preferences, and past deals of the agent or editor to whom I am submitting. Here are some websites I use to help with all of that:
-Checking the acknowledgement pages of books you like can be helpful in finding agents and editors to query.
Researching Audiences and Networking Online
I find it’s helpful to talk to people who read widely in the genres I write. It puts me in touch with my audience. One of my favorites things to do is to go into Barnes and Noble, and other bookstores, and ask the employees about the books they like. They usually love to talk about books, and some of my favorite readings have come from their recommendations.
I have also found Twitter and Reddit helpful when mingling with other writers and readers of my genre. Some writers use these sites, and others, to build platform. (Basically, platform = your following.)
There are lots of other social networking sites that my writer friends love. Google and search for the ones that suit you.
Finding or Building a Critique Group
I highly recommend that every writers finds or establishes a critique group. It’s hard work to find or make a group that works, but it’s totally worth it. It took me years (upwards of five) to find the right mix of writers to work with, and my groups are always changing.
I started by finding out about large critique groups at local conferences. These groups eventually broke into smaller ones. In my experience, smaller groups make the reading more manageable.
I have also found groups online through contests, and these group members have sent each other stuff through a Twitter thread or email. I prefer in-person groups, but every writers is different, and the online groups can oftentimes supplement in-person groups.
I have also had to start many groups of my own, depending on on where I was located and what my skill level was at the time.
Participating in Online Contests
I have gotten into a few online contests, but more importantly, almost every time I’ve entered one, I met fellow writers, and sometimes I’ve gotten feedback from industry professionals. Feedback is not guaranteed, but it is immensely helpful when given.
I find contests by following contest hosts on Twitter. Brenda Drake and Michelle Hauck are just two of the very many hosts that every writer should follow online.
Here is a short list of some of the contests I love:
–Sub It Club – Contest Roundup – Lists all of the contests by month
Exchanging Work with Critique Partners and Beta Readers
I used to ask friends and family members to read pieces of my manuscript, but I have found that strangers who read widely in my genre are usually more honest. I have used Goodreads and Twitter to find beta readers (different from critique partners). I recommend swapping smaller portions of a manuscript with potential critique partners, and then swapping larger portions with those you click with.
Some of my writer friends hire editors to go over their manuscripts. This can be expensive, and finding the right editor for your project can take time. But this is another option.
I am constantly looking to learn more about the craft of writing and the market. Aside from pursuing a formal education, I have found many online resources that have helped me grow as a writer. Some of my favorites are Brandon Sanderson’s YouTube lectures, The Accidental Creative Podcast, and Writing Excuses Podcast.