Contests like PitchWars
While winning contests like these are great, especially because it will set you up with a mentor involved in the writing community, you don’t have to win to make connections. Through Twitter (especially by following hashtags) you can interact with and meet other writers going through the same process. This is a great way to meet CPs (critique partners) and author friends. In order to do so, comment on tweets, follow other writers, reach out on individual DMs, and write your own tweets about the process (and include the hashtag).
Going off of #1, Twitter and Facebook and the like (your “platform”) isn’t about getting thousands of faceless followers, its about making individual connections so that you can build a support system and, ultimately, have more leverage for your books. (Would you rather buy a book from someone you’ve never talked to, or one with whom you exchange advice and comments, with whom you respect and admire? Other readers feel the same way).
Additionally, there are events such as PitMad where you can post a short pitch of your book and agents who are interested will like your tweet, allowing you to submit your query to those who are excited about your work (and make it so you can find additional agents without doing too much more research). Look out for other events like this you can take advantage of (such as DivPit, which is the same but for diverse authors).
I am attending my first conferences this fall. It’s a great thing to do, especially if you are in the query phase (ie you have your manuscript done and polished and are looking for agents and/or publishers) or if you just want to meet other people in the field. Usually they consist of panels or information sessions as well as time to mingle with other attendees and opportunities to sit down with agents one-on-one. A quick google search can find conferences in your area, although often these events do cost money.
Like conferences, this is a great way to meet writers and is usually run by published authors who can be great sources of information on publishing. I would say these are for authors at any stage, from starting out to having a complete manuscript because connections are always crucial, as is growing as a writer. Like conferences, however, they often cost money, but can be a great investment in your writing career.
Attend local events
Bookstores and literary centers (like The Loft in Minnesota) often have book signings or readings, book releases, open mics, or other literary events. It’s a great chance to meet authors, learn how to do events like this when your book comes out, and explore literary centers in your neighborhood. The bonus is they’re usually free, and sometimes have food.
Reach out to a writer you admire
Authors, like everyone else, love getting fan mail. Most they have links on their author page for ways to contact them (the URL of which you can find with a quick google search, or in the back of their book). I know many authors who have found mentors that way, or at least made lasting connections through reaching out. This can be extended to podcasts about writing where you reach out to the writer who runs it, or bloggers who write, or the random writer on Twitter who always makes you laugh with their tweets. Worst case they don’t reply to you. Best case, you have another connection in the writing community for support and advice, who you can also support and cheer on.
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