4 answers

How do I begin networking to become a writer/editor for novels?

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I am a young writer trying to figure out how to kick it off as a career. #writing #communication #author #journalism

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100% of 4 Pros

4 answers

Sarah’s Answer

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Madison,

It all depends on what you want to write. As a professional writer, I started off in creative non-fiction and moved to copywriting, then into freelance writing for in real estate, finance, and job ads. I decided I wanted a Masters and became a fiction writer and then went into IT writing/editing/content management.

As you develop your craft and gain more experience through writing and sending your work into the world by whatever means, you'll start to gain access to all different fields and meet all sorts of people along the way. Let your writing do the networking for you. The better you become and the more people you touch with your writing, the more people will start to come to you.

That's not to say you shouldn't look for opportunities. There are great writing communities all over the world. See what's in your neighbourhood, colleges and universities, magazines you like to read will often have calls for content. Check out editing groups to develop a core group of peers that will help you gain more experience.

Meet and learn from writers around you. The relationships you make from doing random writing gigs will often lead you to more opportunities.
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Jennifer’s Answer

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You have gotten some excellent advice here, so I will speak in general about being successful and building respect from people with whom you network and with whom you work.

1. Being on time
2. Being prepared
3. Being coachable/ teachable
4. Having a good work ethic (For example, when it comes to writing and networking, set specific times each day that you will do this. Always follow-up.)
5. EFFORT
6. Body Language
7. Passion
8. Attitude
9. Energy
10. Doing Extra

Hope this helps.

Jennifer recommends the following next steps:

  • Try this TED talk on designing your life. https://youtu.be/SemHh0n19LA
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Judith’s Answer

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Look into writers' guilds and workshops in your area. Many of these have group critiques to evaluate what you are in the process of writing.

Look into groups which have reviewing on the internet. This could be a quite diverse audience where you can test your ideas. They could offer leads into publishing your final manuscripts.

Always ask for input from your professors. They are thrilled to have students that look into the next level and enjoy mentoring these students. Seek them out in scheduled office hours.
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Bruce’s Answer

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Madison,
How you go about networking in the publishing industry depends on a number of factors including how old you are, where you live, where you are in your educational and/or professional career, and, perhaps most importantly, whether or not you have been published. More important than any of that, though, is that you understand that the roles of writer and editor are very different. The writer--or author--is a creator of literature, whereas the editor works with a number of other roles in the publishing industry to get that literature to the reader. As one editor put it to me once, “Our industry does not exist so writers can publish books. Our industry exists so readers will have something to read.”
Another thing about writing and editing you need to understand up front is that there is very little money in the publishing industry, and most of it goes to just a few superstar authors and editors. For authors, this means the vast majority of them have "composite careers" in which they do other things in addition to their writing to make a living. The most common writing-adjacent vocation is teaching, but many writers do everything from working at Starbucks to performance art to working in tech to, yes, editing, to support their writing. For editors, this means they'll earn the very low salaries typical of the publishing industry. The result is that the industry is peopled with a combination of professionals in New York who rely on wealthy spouses and/or parents for their livelihoods and regular people who have now scattered far and wide across the country to where they can afford a decent living on their meager publishing industry salaries. Luckily, editorial jobs can easily be done remotely, so people increasingly have the option of doing it outside New York.
As to networking, for authors, this should really take a very distant back seat to writing, writing, and more writing. If you're a writer, the most important thing to do is get your work out there both so people will see it and so you'll be able to say you've been published and point to those who have published you. If you want to write novels, this unfortunately means you'll need to start by writing short stories, which are easier to get published. Getting short stories published in literary magazines is the typical way fiction writers first get their work noticed. Once you have a story accepted, be sure to contact the literary magazine's editor directly and engage them so they become part of your network. These editors can not only publish more of your work, they can also nominate your work for literary awards and prizes, so those contacts will always remain very important. Outside of the story submission and publication grind, students interested in both writing and editing can network by 1. Attending readings at local bookstores and taking a moment to engage the authors as the opportunity arises, 2. Looking into the creative writing programs at local colleges, which will have published authors on faculty, free events you can attend, and sometimes visiting authors you can reach out to, and 3. Attending writing conferences like the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) Conference. This last option, unfortunately, costs money, but it also offers many opportunities to meet with both editors, published authors, and many others in the industry, such as literary agents and publicists.
There are probably many more networking options available, many of which you can do from the comfort of your desk. I'd suggest looking at publications like Poets & Writers, The Millions, and LitHub for ideas and inspiration.

Bruce recommends the following next steps:

  • Find out if there are bookstores near you that host readings and get your hands on their schedule. If at all possible, consider getting your hands on the books being promoted at these readings and reading them before you attend--though this is not necessary at all. Readings have Q&A sessions, and you should feel free to raise your hand, identify yourself as a young writer, and ask the question you're asking here of the featured author.
  • Look at the websites for colleges and universities near you and see if they have creative writing programs. (I see that Western Washington in Bellingham, which I think is near you, offers a Creative Writing degree program.) Look at the authors on faculty in these programs, and see if they have free events you can attend.
  • Consider attending the AWP Conference, and look for other writing conferences near you. The publications listed below publish lists of these, some of which are quite affordable.
  • Look at the following publications: Poets & Writers (http://pw.org), The Millions (http://themillions.com), and LitHub (http://lithub.com) for more ideas.
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