We’re still continuing our series on marketing and selling books in the MM romance genre. Make sure to check out the previous posts! Today, we’ll be talking about networking with other authors, and honestly, I can’t stress enough how crucial this is.
If you want to be serious about a career in this genre, you need to be networking with other authors. Especially MM authors. There are countless reasons for this, but let me list a few before we move onto the how to of networking, because that’s not so intuitive for everyone.
Reasons for Networking with Other Authors
Encouragement is a huge reason to connect with other authors. Writing is, for the most part, a lonely business and having writer-0friends help share that loneliness.
Expert advice is another. I’ve learned tons from other authors, especially when I started out, but I still do. I love brainstorming with others and come up with fresh ideas together.
To me, creating a sense of community is also an important one. If you’re in touch with other authors, it helps you feel part of a bigger whole. It’s also easier to know what’s happening in the community and to respond when necessary.
And of course, there’s mutual promotion. I owe a massive amount of gratitude to the authors who helped promote me when I was just starting out. They helped me launch my career, and I’ll never forget that.
But it’s bigger than that. Takeover, for example, which is the term used for “taking over” a Facebook group for a specific time, is a strategy that works well for promotion in the MM romance genre. But getting asked for takeovers often relies on being in a network. If authors don’t know you, they won’t ask you.
Keep it Mutually Beneficial
But: there’s a fine balance to be struck here, because obviously the first reason for networking most people think of is because it will bring them something. But if the only reason you’re connecting with other authors is because you think they can help you, you’re in for a nasty cold shower. That’s not how this works.
Yes, other authors can help you with advice. I’m mentoring a bunch of newer authors with advice and I don’t mind doing that at all. It’s how I got started as well. I also help them by promoting them and their books. Again, it’s what others did for me. But if all authors do when they connect with me is ask me for stuff, they’re not gonna get far. You’ll see how you can keep that balance in the practical tips below.
Networking with other authors means you build relationships that are mutually beneficial. So it really helps if you keep that mutual aspect firmly in your head from day one. Always ask yourself, even if you’re a newbie, what you could bring to the table. What can you offer to this author in exchange for their help? Try to put yourself in their shoes and see what’s in it for them?
It’s not always a strict give-and-take, as most (including me) also use a “pay it forward” strategy, but it helps if you’re aware that what you’re asking costs authors time.
How to Get Networking with Other Authors Right
Networking with other authors is an acquired taste that not everyone can master, so let’s break it down into some bite-size bits of advice. We’ll focus on online interaction, as that’s the most likely form of networking you’ll do.
Connect on Social Media
You can start by connecting with authors through social media. Just follow authors on Twitter or Instagram or befriend them on Facebook. Most will accept your request, unless they’re maxed out on friends. Also: join all the reader groups and MM groups on FB! There’s a massive list.
Make sure your profile makes it clear why you’re interested in them. You’d be surprised at how many weird requests we get from people who turn our to be pervs or scammers. Have a head pic (even if it’s a cartoony one like mine), have a bio that says writer/author, and I always like to see something that shows you’re an LGBTQ+ ally as well. And make sure your profile has your author name.
Start Interacting in Public
The second step would be to become active on said social media and start interacting with authors. In the beginning, it’s best to do this publicly. Comment on posts, retweet, like, share, help them promote, review their books, just become visible. Trust me, I have a reader group with 2k+ members but I recognize the names of those who are active.
By the way, that’s a great way to build a relationship with authors: by posting suitable content in their group (with their permission, obviously). I super appreciate it when readers post stuff in my group, because it helps me keep the group active. I have a few who post regularly, and trust me, I know their names. But do check if it’s okay.
If there’s a reason to, it’s fine to connect privately, for instance through email or social media. But be aware that most authors are super busy people, so don’t expect an answer right away.
Once you feel like you’ve established a social media presence with an author, it’s usually fine to approach them. Here’s a really important guideline: don’t over-ask. When there’s no established relationship yet, it’s not the best strategy to private message authors with broad questions or a whole lot of questions. Do your homework, because they shouldn’t have to do it for you.
There’s a difference for instance between “How do I upload my book to Amazon?” which is something you can easily find out yourself, and “I’m unsure which of these two categories to put it in, what would you recommend?” Make your questions specific. The more specific questions are, the more likely authors are to help you and answer them.
Most of us are insanely busy, trying to cram everything into too little time. That doesn’t mean we don’t want to make the time to help others. We do. But don’t waste our time and ask us to do your work for you. Google, research, then ask what’s still unclear, and we’ll be happy to help.
But Do Ask
Sometimes, newbie authors are hesitant to ask established authors for things because they fear they’ll say no. I understand, but if you don’t ask, the answer is always no. Again, try to see if you can make a reasonable ask, something that wouldn’t require a lot of energy from an author, and maybe do something in return. What’s in it for them?
A takeover for a new author’s release is a great example. If I’m asked to do one in a super small, just-starting author group, I may say no. That may sound harsh, but there’s little sense for me in spending the time it takes for me to prepare a takeover in a group with 200 people. But if a newbie author does that party in a larger group, I don’t mind at all, even if he or she isn’t well-known yet. Because now there’s something in it for me, like exposure to new readers.
One of the FB groups I’m in has this as a motto: Don’t be a dick. Here’s the thing: the MM community is a small one. Word travels fast. Even if an author is maybe not the nicest to you, be careful with complaining or bad-mouthing said author. It may come back to bite you in the ass. On the other end of the spectrum: if an author has been super helpful to you, why not thank them publicly and send a little good karma their way?
Say Thank You
Okay, personal pet peeve, but the least you need to do when someone helps you, is thank them. I don’t mind answering questions at all, but I get a little miffed if my efforts don’t even warrant a thank-you. That’s rude, and it won’t get you far.
I’m sure I could fill a few blog posts more with advice on networking with other authors, but let’s go with this for now. As always, hit me up with any questions you have!