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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Doing That Networking Thing...

Happy Thursday All,


Lately I've been working on a couple of new projects. One of them has to do with one of my published novels, and the other one is a WIP. Both projects are moving along pretty well and I'm looking forward to seeing what happens with them.

One of the projects deals with another side of writing that's often talked about, but some authors struggle with--networking.

It's funny, but I get asked about this more often than I thought I would. I really don't consider myself an expert on the subject, I'm pretty much doing what everyone else does--picking which social
Me with the amazing Christie Craig
If I didn't open my mouth and network
I wouldn't have gotten to know this gem of a person
media works for me, going to writer's group meeting, attending the annual conference, talking to readers, seeing what opportunities open up for me.


A lot of authors are shy and/or introverts. Some aren't, but the majority I've come across actually are. I count myself one of them. 

"YOU?!!" people cry in total disbelief, while assessing me to make sure I'm not having a mental breakdown. (Okay, maybe that's an exaggeration, but their expressions make me wonder if they think that I am having one).

Me and the very talented Teri Thackston
We've enjoyed many a fun conversation
and she's an imaginative author to boot.
"Uh, yeah," I answer, wondering if I just said something taboo. (Is it wrong to say you're shy? Does this somehow mean I'm not as good as someone who isn't?--yeah the questions circle my brain sometimes).

"But-but you talk all the time! You approach people. You're no introvert and you can't be shy." (Somehow being an introvert translates to people are incapable of talking or approaching others ever in their lives. Which makes me wonder how would we interview for a job or pitch our novels or meet our spouses if we didn't open our mouths once in a while?)

I usually smile and/or laugh and say "Oh, I am, honest." (Because it's true).

Unless they know me really well, they never believe me (or rarely believe me). However, my Girls' Night Out ladies do.

One of them I've known since the 4th grade will flat out tell you I'm
Authors Jennifer Bray-Weber & Stacey Purcell
such sweet encouraging ladies
So much talent!
shy.


Another one of the ladies I've known 20+ years and she'll be like "Bethany? Oh yeah, she's introverted and shy. Definitely."

And the other, who is like a little sister to me--I've known her several years (although not as long as the other two). She'll say, "Oh, yeah, she's an introvert and shy."

You see, they've seen the woman who gets quiet the more people there are around her. They've seen me go several minutes without saying a single word. In fact, sometimes they ask me if I'm okay. Generally I'm fine. I'm just thinking about things. Reviewing stuff or daydreaming. I'm a writer, so those daydreams are potential novel material.

The reason most people don't accept this about me is because they
Me, Christie Craig, and Thriller-author, Will Graham
Christie & Will are such awesome people
extremely good writers, too.
rarely (if ever) see it. By nature, I'm a talker. I love conversations and getting to know people. But it does take a lot for me to approach people.


However, I grew up in a house where learning to talk to people was part of living in the family. I'm one of eight kids. We talk to each other our, parents, relatives, friends. So yeah, I know how to verbally communicate reasonably well.

Then of course, my parents were active in the community. They did a lot of work for the church and they had many friends (they still do). So we'd have open houses and parties and family reunions. I had to be able to carry on conversations, even know how to do "small talk". 

Over 30 years of doing all this, I've developed a motto. It goes like this:  "You have to take your shyness, put it under your feet and stand on it." That is, you can't let it get in your way. So yeah, you
Cows on a friends' ranch, because, why not?
They don't seem like they'd make good conversationalists, though
go up to that person you're considering saying hi to and you chat them up. Sometimes you luck out and make a new friend. Sometimes they barely say 2 words to you and you walk away analyzing every last thing you said and wonder if you said the wrong thing. Sometimes you do that even if you said all the right things. But you have to make that move even if it's hard.


As an author the main person who will promote me is me. How else will people know about the new projects I have going? Or what books are about to be
Because it's Throwback Thursday...
Me, senior year of high school. Eek!
published? Not every reader in the world follows me on social media and who knows what new readers I can gain. My existing fans want to know what I'm up to and if I can't promote it, how will they know (unless they're checking Amazon a million times a month to see if I've published something new or checking my website all the time).


The really cool thing is, most of the conversations I strike up end up being really good. People are usually supportive and interested. They like the idea of having met the author personally and hearing
Me, with authors Kerrelyn Sparks, & Christie Craig
about the books straight from the author him or herself.


So, take a deep breath, put your shoulders back, paste a smile on your face, and walk up to someone and say, "Hi! Can you believe the weather we're having? Hot, then cold, and rain. Yuck." (well, if that's the weather you're having, anyway). Once you've engaged them, you can say something like, "Do you like to read?" and go from there. You never know--they might even want your card or bookmark or website address. You don't know if they will get your novel, but they definitely won't if they don't know about it.

When I meet editors and agents at my RWA's chapter's annual conference, I generally open with "Welcome to Texas. I hope you're
My editor, Debby Gilbert from Soul Mate Publishing,
and me at the 2014 NWHRWA Conference
enjoying your stay." and go from there. (Speaking of which, my chapter has its annual conference coming in October--Saturday, October 1st. Check for details here).  Editors and agents are people, too, and you never know which ones will want what you're writing, if you don't talk to them when the opportunity presents itself.


I understand it's not easy. It really isn't easy for me, either. But it's doable and sometimes you're pleasantly surprised.

Best wishes!

Have A Tremendously Thrilling Thursday!

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Love the pictures, Bethany. And you're right, networking is so important.

CC

staceyapurcell said...

I, too, am an introvert. Most don't believe it. Being shy isn't truly being an introvert- an introvert is someone who does not get their energy from being with people. I don't. When I go to parties, I'm the host's best friend because I will be in the kitchen helping to clean everything. At conferences, I have to schedule in alone time to recharge. I am sucked dry after being around groups for a several hours. I am a "learned" extrovert in that I'm very good at being social and taking charge of a room full of people, but I pay a price. A few days of quiet and solitude are needed before I join in again.
Great article. It's a balance for most authors who tend to be like us more often than not.

Bethany said...

CC--

Thank you, and thanks for dropping by. :-)

Bethany said...

Stacey,

Good point. Not every introvert is shy, and not every shy person is strictly an introvert. I just happen to have both. However, I have learned how to hide it or not let it get in the way when necessary. The point is, it's not easy when you have either (or both) going on, but it's possible to overcome them.

Thank you so much for dropping by and commenting :-)

jbrayweber said...

Wonderful post, Bethany.

I'm not an introvert, but I used to be very shy. Shocking, I know. I decided long ago that, like ripping off a band-aid, it's just best to dive in with both feet. Whether that was in standing before a class to do a speech, introduce myself to a boy, or try out for a team. It carried over into adulthood and into this crazy writing career.

With the right attitude, anything is achievable!

Jenn!

Bethany said...

Jenn,

So true! Thank you for dropping by and commenting!