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Armchair BEA: Networking in real life

This entry is part 3 of 6 in the series Armchair BEA 2012

Networking opportunities for book bloggers

Blogging is but one form of writing in the same way that some writers are short story writers, others are freelance magazine writers, and still others are technical writers. So when it comes to networking, whether it’s online or in real life, networking opportunities cross genres. What everyone is seeking is to share an interest and grow a readership.

Bloggers need to network

Sooner or later every blogger asks, “Now what?”  With the explosion of bloggers, the need to network is greater than ever but many bloggers confine themselves to virtual networking and forget about networking in real time and in real life.

Bloggers are writers, too

Bloggers are much like columnists. They write daily, weekly or monthly. They tend to swim in a particular pond gaining expertise and identification with that locale. They have readers, even fans. Their posts provoke, motivate, inspire, and share information. Often a small community gathers around them so that a degree influence is earned. Like columnists, bloggers want their readership to expand. Networking provides a way for them to share their expertise and influence with others.

Bloggers benefit from networking

Ernest Hemingway with Lady Duff Twysden, Hadley Hemingway,Lonnie Schutte and three unidentified people at a cafe in Pamplona, Spain, during the Fiesta of San Fermin in July 1925.

Everybody networks

The larger community of bloggers contains a variety of subgroups like mommy bloggers, romance writer bloggers, techno geek bloggers, marketing bloggers, and on and on and on. Underneath it all, bloggers remain writers and the tools that writers have used for generations work for them.

Networking has always been a good tool for writers, especially for the socially skilled ones. Admittedly, there are a lot of writers who continue to prefer the veil of anonymity that much of writing allows, but in this dense social media driven world the ability to network continues to rise in importance.

The nuts and bolts of real life networking

Let’s talk about real life, real time networking. Since ARMCHAIR ABA is all about books, we’ll talk specifically about book bloggers but the networking ideas can be tweaked and applied for most writers. What can book bloggers do in the real world to gain connections and become a part of their local literary scene?

Book bloggers are disciples of the book 

book bloggers love booksThe one big take-away from all this is that book bloggers share a passion for books. They are very public bibliophiles. They read books, talk books, love books and share books. They become book bloggers to share their passion for books and their love for particular authors. Book bloggers are strong supporters of the book industry. Take that passion and share it with the world–and with your local community.

Support your local bookstores

Forget about the whole indie versus chain debate. Bookstores are your friends. Yes, bookstores are about books, but they are really about people. People work there. Some, because of their work, gain information about events, authors, and publishing news. Others are much closer to the ground. They know the local readers and their interests.

Become a patron. Let them see you, get to know you, learn what you do. When appropriate offer to help them by sharing the news of what they do. Attend their events when you can so they see your face and connect with you. Partnering with bookstores can be a great way to enter more deeply into the book industry.

 Use the local media

Get the word out via radio, TV, podcasts, etc. Too many times I’ve seen writers shy away from the media. The local media is always looking for a good story. Learn to write press releases and send them when you are doing something that might be of interest. Don’t second guess. Many bloggers forget they are actually a part of the local media. Get to know local media people. Let them know you’re an expert. When events are occurring, don’t be afraid to ask for press credentials if there’s one you want to attend. You might be surprised and find yourself in the press tent.

I’ve managed to gain media attention not only for my books but also for classes that I’ve taught and even information that I know. A TV reporter learned that I had a background in journal writing. He needed an “expert” and contacted me. A press release about my participation in the annual NaNoWriMo event struck a story nerve and a newspaper reporter covered me and included local events. Don’t be upset if you don’t gain any interest right away. Trust me, they tuck away the bits of information and pull them out when needed.

Share what you know

The idea of giving a class on blogging may scare you off but there are other angles that you might feel more comfortable in sharing. Offering classes or talks at local bookstores, local colleges, local libraries or local organizations is a great way to connect with the local community. It also offers you a chance to double-up and put your name in front of the media once again for local events. Don’t think about it being all about you and how you don’t want to be in the spotlight. Think, instead, about what you have to give and how you can share that information with others.

Forge relationships with libraries and librarians

Library cards are invaluableIf anyone is deeply committed to books, it’s the librarian. If you’re a book blogger, a librarian will often meet and even match your passion for books. They are committed to getting the word out about books and authors. Become a supporter and patron of the libraries. Get to know the librarians, discover their book passions, attend local events, and share what you learn with your readers. Use your blog to help them promote their events and even national events. Learn more about events like Book Expo America, American Library Association, Banned Book and Anti-defamation Weeks. Figure out ways to configure these events to your own blogging intentions and go for it.

Join the local community of writers and readers

Remember, bloggers are writers. So if you don’t have much of a local blogging community, find writers in other genres. If you’re a book blogger who loves romance, seek out local romance writers groups. You have a voice and a platform, one that can help them spread the word about events, books, and members. At the very least, you’ll gain more knowledge about the book business and you may open up a new stream of posts by interviewing authors.

If you find other bloggers, form a support group. Many writers are members of a group whether it’s geared for critique and/or support. The energy, the discussions, and the community will help enlarge the rather solitary life of a blogger. If you’re blogging about a particular topic, find others in the same field but functioning in a different way. Book clubs are a great way to gain relationships with like-minded readers who may also be potential readers. Can’t find a book club or a writer’s group? Start one.

Sync your passions with local and national causes

ALA READ Judy Moody posterLet’s face it. There are plenty of literary causes that cry out for support. Book bloggers and writers should easily be able to find causes that stoke their passion. At the very least, READ campaigns should stir the imagination. Find out what is going on locally and do what you can to help generate support for the cause. Meet the organizers. Get their materials and publicize the events as well as attend them. Make sure you send them links to your posts. These things pay off over time.

Develop partnerships

Partnerships come in all shapes and sizes from the simple discovery of a fellow blogger who shares a similar interest to the larger partnerships with organizations and causes. They exist because they work. Both parties gain in the development of these relationships. Find a blogger buddy and meet with them at the local Starbucks or Panera’s. Come up with a networking plan that you can do together. Take your partnership and link up with larger groups. The opportunities that will occur will amaze you.

The basic idea of all of this is to simply share your passion and connect with the book industry and your local community.  Now, how about sharing your ideas? What has worked for you? What will you try?
Ready to read the classics? Join The Classics Club. My 5 year 50+ booklist is here: The Classics Club project.

  • BEA Armchair design by Sarah of Puss Reboots; Hemmingway and friends by Not specified, owned by John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons; Microphone by LuckyLouie at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons; READ Judy Moody poster via ALA store

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Series NavigationArmchair BEA: New books for writers in 2012Armchair BEA: Beyond the blog and why some writers blog
  • Liviania

    I’ve never thought about a relationship with the local media before.  But it makes sense.  (As does trying for a press pass to some events.)

  • Anonymous

    I think you hit the nail on the head—there are tons of options for bloggers to network and get their name out there if that is what they are aiming too.  Anything you love and want to expand takes leg work!

    Great Ideas!

  • Amanda @ Letters Inside Out

    Great post! I’ve never really tried much with the local media since I’ve started blogging, but I should. I already have an “in” the door there, so it’d make sense.

  • Vikk Simmons

    Thanks. These are tried and true ideas that have worked for myself and for friends. You just have to be patient. They don’t always respond immediately. 

  • Vikk Simmons

    Thanks! Leg work is called for, that’s for sure. 

  • Vikk Simmons

    Ah ha, an “in,” Don’t let those “ins” go uncultivated. Even if you don’t need or want them now it’s good to at least keep an awareness alive. 

  • Jillian

    This is SUCH a helpful post. I would do all of this, if I felt the urge to network. I think marketing is what turned me off of writing for a couple years. I just don’t want to do all of that. I want to quietly write and read, come what may. I’m quite sure I don’t fit the average blogger. :)

  • Peggy Marsiglio

    Thanks for stopping by my blog and sharing these great tips!  I never thought about local media – radio, newspaper, etc.  That’s an awesome one!

  • Vikk Simmons

    You know I share you thoughts on this. I don’t do near as much as I should with my blog. I have done it all because of my publications, etc. but I’m pretty laid back here. I want readers but I do try to keep my focus on the reading and the content and hope that I’ll attract readers who are like-minded over time.

    You seem to be doing very well. I don’t fix things if they’re working. Average you are not. 

  • Vikk Simmons

    Local hospital radio shows? I’d never thought of that. Great tip, Michelle. 

  • Bree

    Awesome post! Lots of information for people who want to expand their involvement but maybe aren’t sure how to go about it.

  • Karen

    Fantastic post.  So many helpful pieces of advice that don’t feel overwhelming.  Thank you from someone who is quite anxious about networking.

  • Karen

    Fantastic post.  So many helpful pieces of advice that don’t feel overwhelming.  Thank you from someone who is quite anxious about networking.

  • Gwen

    I need to learn to be more consistent with local media. I’ve been lucky with a few connections in larger markets, but local? I stink. 

  • Vikk Simmons

    Karen, I totally understand how anxiety can come into play with the whole networking thing. I’m glad you found my suggestions friendly and non-threatening. It’s really not that difficult once you start doing it. Even one thing a day makes a difference. 

  • Vikk Simmons

    Consistency, yeah, that’s the big bear in the room, isn’t it? :) Very few writers tap their local markets and it does seem to pop unexpectedly. It’s like being on Project Runway and one day you suddenly find you’re in. (We won’t discuss the whole “out” thing.) 

  • Vikk Simmons

    Thanks, Bree, I’m glad you enjoyed the post and thought it was helpful and informative. Very good to know. 

  • Vikk Simmons

    Hey Peggy, thanks for coming over. I do think writers often ignore the local angle. Probably because they don’t think anyone would be interested but actually if you position it right the local angle is exactly what they are interested in. 

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