Last week over at The Killer Chicks, I talked a little bit about making friends in the industry. It's an important thing - even if you're a hermit like I am - so I thought I'd expand on it a little here.
Finding friends online is easy enough. There are writing groups, forums, and blogs everywhere - from the newest of writers who're just starting their first chapter to the most seasoned of professionals. Some of them are awesome, others aren't. You just have to find your niche and go for it.
Because, yeah, this whole thing can be extremely lonely. Typically, your family and the friends you have outside of the industry can be supportive as hell, but they still don't really understand until they've been here doing this. My mother is an awesome person and a voracious reader. She listens to me talk about the writing and the querying. She also listens to me rant when things get crazy-pants, and she tries to provide sound advice. But she can only do so much. All of them can only do so much.
Which is one reason you need writer friends. It always helps to have some one out there in the world who understands.
Beyond that (or maybe in addition to that), though, you also need to 'cultivate contacts' in the business. These days - and maybe all the days before - having contacts in the business is an important thing. Knowing people who've been through this can help you overcome some of the difficulties because they've already faced them. I know the friends I've made have helped me in numerous ways already, and I hope having those friends will help drive sales once I finally someday get a book published. (Which goes back to another post I wrote for The Killer Chicks about something I call 'Pimpage'.)
"Exactly how am I supposed to do all this when I can barely say two words to strangers?" you might be asking. Well, one thing you need to remember out here is these people aren't in front of you. They can't see you. No one is going to point and laugh. Be yourself and I'm sure you'll find people who will be your friends. Heck, if you're nice and yourself, you probably already have a friend right here.
But one thing you need to remember as you're out there trying to make friends and cultivate contacts and just generally network - you need to be sincere. There's nothing that can turn a relationship sour faster than insincerity. And if you can't be sincere, be silent. Or as my mother always told me "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all."
How about it, folks? Do you find the whole idea of making friends daunting? Are you the kind of person who stops by a blog and reads, but doesn't comment because you're a wallflower? What are some things you've done, or can do, to cultivate contacts?