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.