This past weekend I had the pleasure of going to a book launch party for Last Goodbye by Laurel Ostiguy.
I met Laurel at the Newburyport Maritime Days festival when she and her family stopped by the Newburyport Writers booth back in May.
You know that feeling when you instantly connect with someone you’ve just met? As if they’re a kindred spirit and you should get to know them because, in some weird way, you already do? That was how it felt meeting Laurel.
In a lot of ways, it felt like I was looking back on a version of me twelve months prior, right after I had released Secret Hunger. She had just published her book and was excited to meet other local authors. We got to talking about all things books and writing. At the end of our conversation, I handed her a bookmark (to go with a copy of my book that she bought,) a business card, and urged her to keep in touch.
“Oh, I should get bookmarks and business cards, too.”
Boom, epiphany! That moment, seeing her realize she needed something she could hand out when meeting people, illuminated all the reasons why I like connecting with fellow authors. It gives us the opportunity to learn from one another, bounce ideas off each other, and support people who are traveling a similar path.
And it works both ways. Just last week I received an e-mail from someone who had been a regular in my WriNoShores writing group. He had heard of this new website that was compiling a database of local authors in order to help spread the word and support them and he thought I might be interested.
He was right!
Hometown Reads is a new author platform that showcases books by location. It provides a way for local authors to network with each other and a database for readers to find hidden treasures from writers in their own community.
If you’re an author, it’s free to add a book to the database. (Only one now. In the future you can add more for a fee.) They currently have thirty-nine hometowns listed, with more planned for the future. In fact, the Boston hometown page has just opened up! You’ll find Secret Hunger is one of the first ten listed…all because I had someone reach out to me.
Which brings me back to my point. If you’re an author, or any creative for that matter, it’s important to make connections with your fellow writers. Not only because you get to meet and interact with amazing, interesting people, but because you’ll have the opportunity to help – and be helped – by your community.
Here’s a list of ideas on how you can find and build your community as an author.
- Find a local writing group. – Not sure where to look? Start with your local libraries. Many libraries host author events and spotlight community talent, just ask the librarian or check the community events board.
- Support your local bookstores. – There’s been a lot of talk about large chain bookstores going out of business. That just means independent bookstores are on the rise and many of them are holding author events and book signings. Search yours out today!
- Connect on social media. – There are a ton of Facebook pages featuring indie authors and they’re free to join. Not only will you have access to some great advice, but you can also find authors from around your area, or in your genre.
- Participate in NaNoWriMo. – NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. It’s held throughout the month of November and the goal is to write 50K works in 30 days. When you join, you can select your region and find a group of writers from your area.
- Take a writing class. – Many local colleges offer continuing education courses for creative writing. This creates a great environment to find writers who are trying to improve their craft and take it seriously.
The hardest part is just getting started. Trust me. As an introverted extrovert, I know taking the first step can be difficult. However, it’s also worth it. You’ll have the opportunity to be inspired, learn a lot, and make lasting friendships. Give it a try!
How about you? Are you an author who has a great community of writers? How did you find them and what have been some of the benefits?