When networking and PR turn into something else entirely. Part Two.

Faith HunterFaith Hunter
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Last time I posted it was on the benefits of networking in the business. And frankly the benefits are astounding, even for a social misfit like me.  For some people networking is easy—thinking here of David, who seems to make friends like nobody’s business.  It’s harder for me.  It just is. Partly because I don’t remember names. (It’s a social affliction. I forgot the Hubby’s name on our honeymoon after knowing him since 8th grade and dating him for over 7 years.) Partly because of foot-in-mouth disease.  But I still have made more friends as a writer than I have enemies. I hope. And a lot of them appear here regularly, and I have seen them at Cons regularly, and I plan to see them at more Cons, and I plan to do PR with them, and I really like them!

In fact, Misty Massey and David B. Coe (DB Jackson) and I had breakfast when he was in town and planned some PR that had us giggling so loudly and hard that the restaurant asked us to leave and go sit outside. (Not really, but we did go sit outside and my inner writer took over. Sorry.)

Networking led me to my webmaster, my PR team, my fantasy literary agent, all the people I’ve met here at MW, my websites, my Facebook pages and groups,  my PR stuff, and most of my friends. It also led me to horror stories about fans who cross the reader/writer/networker/fan lines.

So. How does one network? At our signings, while David was visiting, I started thinking about how one does this delicate dance of networking, and I came up with the Top Tens of Networking Dos and Don’ts. With tongue firmly in cheek….

The Top Ten of Networking Do’s.

10. Do shower and brush your teeth when you are going to be around writers you want to impress. Seriously. Some people don’t. Not everyone has access to showers but most people can take a sink-bath. And deodorant is useful, on your flesh, not sprayed on your clothes.
9.   Do wear clean clothes—or as clean as possible. Not everyone has access to washers and dryers, but most people can wash their clothes in a sink. I know. I’ve lived without a washer and dryer before, and while washing in a bathtub or sink is backbreaking labor, it can be done. And it gives you the perfect opportunity to practice your blues singing.
8.   Do go to any signings you possibly can (of the writers you want to network with as well as the writers whose work you read, love, enjoy.) The more writers you talk to, the more comfortable you are talking to writers. Natch. Okay, this one wasn’t funny at all. So sue me.
7.   Do go to Cons to meet and visit with any writers you want to network with. And try to make it FUN, not an ambush between the stacks of books or in the hallways outside their rooms or in the ladies’ or men’s room. That’s just ick.…
6.   At said signing and Cons, be helpful to the writer. Ex:  If they are lost, help them get to their destination. Help them carry heavy loads if you are physically able. The key word here is help.
5.   If you get to know the writers , and then ask them to read all or a portion of your manuscript, and they decline, accept it and be nice. (This happens to me often. I just don’t have time to read many manuscripts. I even turn my editor down fairly often. And when the writer asking is understanding about it, it really helps, because most of us love to help out other writers. We are mostly pretty nice people. A kind and understand response can lead to a later reading.)
4.   Do try to be a crowd at a writer’s signing table, to attract more readers. It’s true that a crowd usually grows, but with no crowd, no one feels safe stopping, talking to the costumed ad bejeweled writer sitting there. Okay that’s just me, but I suddenly have mental picture of DB Jackson in drag. And a tricorn. Hat.
3.   Keep a sharp eye out for potential readers. When a new potential reader steps up, tell them what a great story the writers have written, then step back and away, and let the writers do their thing, rather than hogging the table.
2.   Follow the writer online and comment when they have an online event. Share the event on your social media pages. Tweet, share, and make a joyful noise about the writers and their works. In song if you can hold a melody.
1.   Be fun. Be positive. Be kind. Be in tune.

The Top Ten of Networking Don’ts.

10. Don’t wear a lot of cologne /perfume to a signing.  A splash is usually okay, unless the writer is allergic, but a cup-full is always overcompensating for something scary.
9.    Don’t feel the need to dress formally. A top hat and tails might be a bit much.
8.   Remember that attending a lot of book signings is great, until you are traveling hundreds of miles to attend every signing the writers have. Adoration is a short hop from stalking, and that is against the law. J And is scary.
 7.   Cons are fun, but remember that published writers are working at Cons. They may not have time to spend a meal, or an hour, talking with you, alone, or having dinner with you, or . . .anything. For them, Cons are a job, and they get tired and cranky. And re-read the last part of number 8. That stalking thing can be creepy.
6.   Don’t mob the writers. If they are talking to others, and not to you, remember that they are working. Offering to help them does not mean to grab their belongings and demand, “Where to next, Darlin’?” See numbers 7 and 8.
5.   Do not arrange with the hotel to put flowers, candy, or other gifts in their room.  And a manuscript on their pillow will be met with police attention. Just sayin’.
4.   Don’t stand for hours at a signing table. If you are there in the store, visit a bit, try to draw a crowd, then go home. That stalking thing again, dontcha know.
3.   Don’t hogtie potential readers and strong-arm them to the signing table. Not even if the writers write erotica, specializing in BDSM. That’s just another form of kidnapping, no matter how well intentioned.
2.   Use moderation when following writers online. If they have an event, don’t pre-set your tweets to post every hour or so. That becomes an attack instead of a reminder or promo. And last but not least:
1.   Don’t be an ass. It’s just a suggestion, but word gets around. Be an ass to one writer (even if he/she deserves it) and others will hear of it.

So. Have fun with writers. Don’t stalk. Be neat and professional. Be kind. And all writers will love you and want to help you, too, to become published.

Faith
www.faithhunter.net

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19 comments to When networking and PR turn into something else entirely. Part Two.

  • sagablessed

    Good rules. I tend to get over-exuberant; I admit and talk excessively about writers whose work I like.

    Bad Faith!
    You made me snort coffee up my nose, LOL. “Okay that’s just me, but I suddenly have mental picture of DB Jackson in drag. And a tricorn. Hat.”

    I will have that image in my brain for the rest of my life. Ah well. My therapist needs a Bahamas vacation anyways. :)

  • Oooh, do I see a return of Schlomo in your future? (And does he crash Jane and Ethan’s party in the crossover fic?) ;)

    Yes, yes, yes, to all of this. I remember dealing with #6 of the “Don’ts” at ConCarolinas. I felt rather annoyed at the fan (not the writer), but I also was frustrated because I had to rudely interrupt the fan to continue the transaction of the books I was purchasing. I hate being rude. But I hate even more that Mud and I had to deal with #1 of the “Don’ts” at the MW party we hosted, because next year that will not be tolerated. (Maybe that’s rule 1b of the don’ts? As in, don’t be rude and an ass to other fans?)

    Great list!

  • Love this, Faith, for the humor and the truth behind it. I do feel comfortable schmoozing and making new friends — a genetic gift from my father, who assumed that every person he met would be his friend eventually. But even so, I find it exhausting and I definitely need down time, whether at cons or after signings. These events are fun for us writers — we enjoy them. But as you say, they are also work.

  • Saga, sorry about the coffee snort. That had to hurt. And yeah, I too have that mental image.

    Laura, some people have problems in social situations. Some people have no social filters. Some people have learning disabilities. And some have all three. My SIL is one who has all three, and so I tend to make allowances for such people and their apparent, but unintended, rudeness and for their emotional reactions which are often out of proportion to the problem at hand. For them (and for me and for you and all the others here), we now have the Top Ten Dos and Don’ts to fall back on. LOL

    David, that is you in a nutshell. Everyone will be friend eventually. :) It is a gift, one I covet, but will never have. And yes to the time off afterward. It is exhausting and we need down time. I hope you are getting yours!

  • Great list. As always, when I read these kind of lists, I’m amazed that the list needs to be written, but I know they do. Actually, we could have used this list to hand out to customers back in my bookstore days!

  • SiSi, it takes a lot be a writer in today’s market. It takes kindness, forethought, planning, and … more kindness. And maybe some *more* kindness. I tend to be too forthright, and I have to work on verbal and written kindness. Maybe having a Top Ten will make that easier on me. LOL

    I have spent the last 48 hours finalizing my street team (Beast Claws), PR team (LTPromos.com), and getting back in step with my webdesigner / swag designer, Mike Pruette. I’ll do a post on all that in August. It’s been interesting and fun and maybe you guys will like seeing how it has come together.

  • That makes sense, Faith. I work with students who have print impairments, so quite often that means doing the same while maintaining a positive, friendly, and encouraging attitude. It’s one of the principles of customer service. Even when the customers can be challenging.

    But I am curious, where does a person draw the line? Some things feel like they can be let go, but other things feel like I’d be doing myself a disservice to ignore.

    I understand that this isn’t just about being polite for the sake of politeness (which is always a good idea), but also about not alienating potential readers or fellow members of the community. I’d say this feels like an intricate dance, but sometimes it feels more like an obstacle course!

  • Kindness is vital because you’re often dealing with someone who hasn’t grown that necessary thick skin about their own writing yet. But you have to keep just a touch of cautious detachment, too, because there are folks who’ll leap to take even the smallest advantage.

    And here you thought all you had to do was write a good book! :)

  • mudepoz

    Geez. So thongs in the gift bag was too much ? And stalking?
    Um, who had on too much cologne, Laura?
    You just wrecked all my fun. *ducks and runs*

  • Ken

    Love the lists, Faith. Networking is pretty difficult for me as well, but I’m starting to come out of my shell bit by bit…
    Rule 1 from both lists are on my “Life” list as well :)

  • Vyton

    These lists are very helpful, but is this one of the deals where the people who really need rules won’t see them? (Other than me.) So at the next con I attend, if I wash my clothes in the bathtub while singing Blind Lemon Jefferson’s *See That My Grave Is Kept Clean* and bathe in the sink, and don’t wear too much cologne, and don’t kidnap anyone, I’ll have a better chance at getting my manuscript accepted? This is great.

  • Red line storms cut Internet service, so I’ll write fast and upload comments individually.

    Laura, the way I draw that line is that if someone is getting feelings hurt or someone is being bullied or someone is being put down, I’ll step in. If someone is being rude but is the recipient is dealing with it, then I do nothing. And yes, it’s a not-fun-dance.

  • Misty, as we both know — the book writing is the easy part.

    Going for two this time!

    Mud, you do things for fun, not maliciousness. Stop worrying.

  • Ken, that’s a good point. I’ll put them on mine too. :)

    Vyton, the not-kidnapping-anyone part is the most important part. Just sayin’.

  • Amy Bauer

    Nice post, Faith. Sagablessed beat me to it – The D.B. Jackson line nearly caused me to spit tea on the keyboard. I am finding this a difficult area to navigate. I like to think I’m polite and as an introvert I’m usually aware of intruding into someone’s space. but I also want to meet people at cons and the fangirl “I LOVE your books” approach makes me want to hang my head, even when I DO love your books. I debated for a day before I sent a friend request to one writer that I’d talked to for a few minutes at one con because I thought it might have been construed as stalkerish. But I thought they were nice and I wanted to stay connected and as it turns out they cool with it. But I think it’s tough to walk the line for many people. I now have a sudden urge to wear a top hat to a book signing. Will fight that.

  • *Partly because I don’t remember names.*

    I’m in that same boat. I’m terrible at remembering names. I tend to remember online handles or numbers before names. And if you throw me several names at the same time? Forget it. I’ll be lucky to remember one. I’ve at least got David’s attitude toward people, but I’m very introverted (I’m working on it), so it’s more difficult for me to just strike up a conversation in social situations without feeling as though I’m intruding or like I’m a nervous, fidgeting goof. I tend to be the guy in the corner listening to everyone talk until I’ve picked up enough of a feel for those around me that I can at least chime in on something.

    *A top hat and tails might be a bit much.*

    Unless it’s a fantasy/sci-fi convention and you’re going as a steampunk aristocrat. ;)

  • First — I hope you all read the *tongue in cheek* part. This was supposed to be funny, not hit a nerve or make someone feel like an idiot. *I* am an idiot. The rest of you are not.

    Amy, I am glad I made you laugh. And if you want to be a writer’s friend, you *have* to send a request. I am maybe 500 behind in accepting requests and I’ll never get caught up. But if someone sends me a note, I’ll find their name and accept. I figure most writers have the same problem. And again — tongue in cheek. :)

    Daniel, we are a lot alike in social situations. I stand and watch too. A lot!

  • You’re not an idiot. And no nerves hit here. I’m good that way. Still, many of these do apply, especially at conventions. Don’t believe me? Spend some time in the crowded hallways of Origins or GenCon. ;)