You might think that the life of a writer might be all about setting up your laptop in a quiet space, plugging away at the keys until your mind feels numb. You’re not wrong in some respects, but do not for a moment forget that what you’re doing will eventually create a community. You are working on something that will garner fans and build a fandom.
You’re going to get stuck every once in a while. You’re going to burn out and find that speaking words is suddenly much more difficult than it ever has been before (or, is that just me?). Later, you’re going to be faced with the challenge of marketing your own work. You’ll be challenged to find ways to make yourself and your work known.
You aren’t alone.
No matter what you think. Take a glance at the bookshelves in your local book store. Browse through Amazon’s book choices. Those are all people going through the same thing as you! Or, check out fan sites, bookstagrammers, and bloggers. Those are all people who love what you do!
Before you even put out your first book, wander around the wide web and find yourself a group of people who you can vibe with. Make relationships with these people. Learn their first names, their favorite books. Share tattoo pictures and your Pottermore quiz results (I can’t be the only person that does this!).
A few years ago I joined a Facebook group for girls blogging about geeky things. I was running a different blog back then, but in that group I found women that think like I do, that like the same things as me. I read their blogs and lamented or celebrated with them by commenting on their blogs and sharing their posts to get a bigger reach. They aren’t just bloggers, they’re editors, graphic designers, and writers.
Now, those girls happily agreed to be the first to read my Young Adult Project for me. They know what the YA market is like and what it needs. Their experience is going to help me make the best possible book I can make. Not only that, they will be the first to review my book and, basically, be my street team by advocating for me. In exchange, they get the first peek into a whole new fandom where they can say they know the author personally!
I am beyond grateful for what those ladies are doing for me. I’m excited and kind of terrified to show them what I’ve created.
Not only have I found beta readers by making friends, I’ve met other authors! When I published Marked For The Hunt, I realized I was really far behind the curve when it came to the publishing world. I set out in search of author groups and found a really cool Facebook group dedicated solely to Urban Fantasy authors. They host themed discussions every day and, together, we started a contact sheet.
When my husband’s expensive gaming computer, the source of his happiness, decided to play dead we had to purchase another expensive computer to replace it. The authors on the FB group heard my plea to increase my marketing reach, so as to replace some of the money we hadn’t expected to spend, and helped me to set up a blog tour. Interviews with my characters will run on their blogs, reaching their readers!
I never expected to make these kinds of connections, but I am immensely grateful for them. Not only are they helping me to get further in my career, but in the process I’m creating true friendships. These are the people who will stand by my side in the long run, and if they ask anything in return I won’t hesitate to give (anything short of murder, depending on the situation).
There are a good number of ways to go about finding your own tribe these days. The internet makes the world a whole lot wider than it used to be. Just don’t go sharing your bank accounts with anyone.
Social media is a wonderful tool to use. Like I said, I found everyone on Facebook groups. There’s still Google Plus, Instagram, and Twitter. You might even be able to use Snapchat (I don’t know, I feel like I’m too old for that one). Hashtags make it easier to find people posting similar things to what you’re posting. Go comment on their photos. Don’t just drop some emojis and run away. Start a conversation. Talk about your favorite books, your own project, or something they seem to enjoy.
Not everyone you find will jive with you. That’s okay. The world is a very wide and diverse place. People have differing opinions. Don’t fight them if you can’t have a conversation, move on. Find someone who can challenge you, but won’t fight over it. That’s your person.
So, go out and find your tribe. It obviously doesn’t have to be one tribe. Make friends all over the place. Make a friend who does graphic design so you can consult them with all of your handmade graphics. Find a personal friend that does photography for good photos on the cheap. Just don’t forget to give in return!