Building Relationships: Why “Networking” is a Dirty Author Word

liz02I’m a nerd who loves superhero and action films. I make silly comics (see photo) and get into loud, enthusiastic discussions about the Avengers. Sometimes I even pretend I’m still in school and write longwinded essays on movies like Dark Knight.

I’m the social media editor and a writer for Leisure Publishing’s publications, The Roanoker, Blue Ridge Country, and bridebook.

I’m obsessed with my dog. His name is Fisher and he’s a Jack Russell terror. 85% of my photos are of him.

I talk about food ALL the time. Professions of love, writing analogies, dreams and hopes. It might be a problem. (I’m starting Boot Camp Fitness next month. Swear.)

Photo Aug 12, 5 21 58 PM

But you already knew all of those things. At least, you probably do if we’ve connected through social sites. I’ve had all sorts of those related conversations with online friends – who also happen to read and support my work.

“Networking” is one of my least favorite words. It’s a dirty word, a term that makes most authors want to curl up into their turtle shells and pretend they didn’t hear it. Not all writers are introverts, but most of us tend to enjoy staying in our writing caves, only coming out to talk online and market our books. Occasionally we attend conferences, but we’re with our type of people there, so it’s more enjoyable than awkward.

When I attended a “No B.S. to Networking” session at the Roanoke Regional Writers’ Conference (led by the fabulous Sarah Beth of Nary Ordinary) we talked a lot about making connections, lasting relationships that keep your friends (i.e. readers) supporting you through every book you publish. I wanted to jump up and down and shout “YES!” because this is what I do every day with my job and I’m constantly touting it here on my blog.

Indie authors depend on their readers, on the word of mouth that hopefully spreads after a popular book blogger reviews a great title. It’s like a grassroots marketing campaign, a way to showcase your work and appreciate your friends. Without our book bloggers, at least as far as I can tell, indies are dead in the water.

Book bloggers are awesome – they spend their time and energy (and in some cases money) on our titles, taking the time for reviews and tweets and general support. They’re doing this out of the goodness of their book-loving, nerdy little hearts! How can you not appreciate that?! I have yet to meet a book blogger who wasn’t one of the nicest people ever – even if they weren’t interested or couldn’t fit it in, every blogger I’ve talked to is still so nice and supportive, even offering me guest posts or interviews when the review couldn’t happen. (Indie authors need to jump all over those offers, by the way.) And that’s the heart of it – we need to appreciate our online connections as friendships – not as a networking opportunity to make it big. If you think like that, you won’t get very far. “Networking” might be your dirty keyword, but “Relationships” is the goal. Friendship is the cherry on top.

And in case we haven’t met yet – let’s change that. Let’s be friends – no networking required.

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Twitter: @LizCLong