Thoughts on developing a strong network. . .

It seems that we’ve all had an extremely busy Fall – publishing and writer types alike. It’s hard to believe that even a few years ago there would be quiet lulls (in publishing) during any year.  Yet as social media has evolved into an everyday part our lives – the pace is always hectic, with infrequent moments to escape the grid.  Sometimes it almost seems that social media is driving the figurative bus vs. the folks it represents, but that’s another topic altogether.

Thus, I’m sending a gentle nudge (to everyone) to take the time in stepping away from this mad dash.  For writers, their books will benefit.  For agents and editors, our ability to think clearly and make sound decisions will continue.  This is precisely why writers’ conferences exist.  They exist to educate and inspire authors – and to remind those of us who love the publishing industry why we’re involved to begin with.

If anyone reading this blog has followed my agency for any period of time, it’s not required (on my part) that I confirm my belief that we all support and help grow our local writing communities.  The process is easily accomplished by buying books locally, attending book events, creating new book events and writing opportunities, and forming a strong alliance & network for anyone who loves books & writing.

This Fall I was extremely honored to participate with the Women of Words Conference and the MN Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators.  Both were wonderful experiences – and ones that I’ll never forget.    So much that I was reminded again of the strength and vitality of Minnesota’s writing community.  Plus, I got to learn a few new things myself!

After the fact, here are several things that come to mind:

1.       As a writer it’s 110% essential one builds a strong network of fellow writers and publishing types to collaborate and interact with.    

Any writer’s conference or writing organization can provide that needed opportunity. Especially since choosing any book publishing route can be a long, drawn-out process.   Attempting to get published without a network is never a good idea; as there will be hurdles to overcome, which can be discouraging for any aspiring author.

If you need an additional reason, you should remember that editors and agents have always tried to support and communicate with one another – as we too know that the overall publishing world can come across as overwhelming.   I’d hope everyone would follow our example.


2.       Constantly educate yourself.   

For anyone who has played a sport – or was involved in the creation of something – there is always a need to stay abreast of the newest information, newest ideas, and methods of perfecting one’s performance.

The same goes for writing.  Any of us would hope that we improve in the craft of writing over a noticeable period of time.  The best way to go about accomplishing this goal is participating (and even contributing) to writer’s conferences and organizations.    Every student needs a teacher.  And every teacher needs a refresher course – to which joining a strong writing organization or conference allows that opportunity.


3.       Celebrate the small successes.

We all know that Rome wasn’t built in a day.   If one compares his/her writing life to the growth of a large city, the overall general process takes time. . . and requires lots of patience.

Develop reasonable timelines for the goals you want to accomplish; whether it’s in regard to writing, building an author platform, and/or finding an agent.   Try to not panic during the process – and most importantly take a moment to celebrate even the smallest accomplishments.  I’d personally suggest a cupcake for each moment – but that’s me. 🙂


What has your experience been regarding writer’s conferences and being involved in local writing organizations? What have you learned from the overall process?  And most importantly, how are you sharing your experience with others?

I can’t wait to hear what you have to say!




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  1. Phil Dwyer on November 17, 2011 at 3:52 am

    Totally agree. I resolved to push myself out of my comfort zone this year (my comfort zone is sitting at a keyboard, typing). I joined a local writers’ community. They prompted me to apply for one of their scholarships, which I won. Which encouraged me to apply for a local Arts Council grant, which I won. Which gave me the money to attend a conference with agents and editors. Which resulted in three requests for partials. Which would never have happened sitting at my keyboard, typing.

    Also agree about sharing small successes. My wife has instituted a little tradition – a glass of Veuve Clicquot every time I have a *champagne-worthy* success. And now I find my comfort zone has expanded. I’m going to have to push myself in whole new directions next year to take myself outside it.

  2. colleen rowan kosinski on November 17, 2011 at 7:08 am

    I treasure every writing conference I am able to attend. Nothing more inspiring than to be surrounded with creative book lovers. I recently attended a SCBWI NJ workshop in Princeton. The speaker was the wonderfully witty, and super smart, Cheryl Klein. And, the workshop was free. I came home totally energized to start my next project.

  3. Linda White on November 17, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    Great post, Dawn. Thanks for the nudge. I attend a lot of events and find that they just absolutely feed me. But lately I’ve determined that I need to spend more time butt in chair. In another month, I’ll be ready for events again. And I am determined to go to a conference in 2012! I miss going to BEA, but I’ve never been to AWP, so that is sounding pretty attractive right now.

  4. Stacey Isbell Graham on November 18, 2011 at 6:22 am

    Writers feed off each other’s success, you can’t help but be excited when a friend gets an agent or book contract. Building a network of those who understand the ups and downs of the business is essential, besides, it’s no fun eating that celebratory cupcake alone. 😉

    If you’re up on a soapbox about continuing the education process, I’m the one standing behind you beating the drum. Conferences can help ground the new writer and hopefully get them to focus on goals as well as poking the old-timers (like me) to try something new. It’s also an excellent way to expand your writerly circle o’support when you’re sniffling into your granola about another rejection.

    Great post, Dawn!

  5. Laurie Harper on November 29, 2011 at 5:42 am

    So true-great post. We all have to push ourselves to connect face-to-face — unless you’re an extreme extrovert, in which case, you might not be a writer, ha ha.