Writers are isolated and just keeping our fingers on the keyboard and producing words is a solitary action that we do alone. I know because even though I'm an editor for a New York publisher, for many years I've written books and magazine articles.
I'm going to detail five simple actions every writer can take to expand their writing world, reach more people and get more of your writing into the hands of others.
First, join a writer's organization. If you write novels, then look for a fiction organization in your genre. If you write nonfiction, then seek a local writer's group. Do more than attend their meetings but volunteer to help them and get connected to other writers. Do they have critique groups? If so, join the group and if not, start one. For many years, I've been active in the American Society of Journalists and Authors. I've been on the board of this group but also I've been the chairman of a committee. During the member meeting one year in New York City, I had the opportunity to give former President Jimmy Carter a copy of my latest book. While I have no idea if he read the book, I know it was the only book President Carter carried out of the room that day. I would not have had such an opportunity without being a member of the ASJA.
Second, get to a writer's conference. I love attending (and teaching) at conferences. I meet other writers and industry professionals. We exchange business cards and connect with each other on the phone or email after the event. I've received magazine assignments and book deals from these conference connections. Plan to attend a conference, bring plenty of business cards, then follow-up with the people you meet. It will propel your writing life to new levels.
Third, write for print magazines. I understand many writers want to write books yet print magazine editors need your stories. Writing for magazines is great exposure for your writing. It's one of the tried and true ways that editors and literary agents find excellent writers. It can not happen if you aren't writing for magazines. Make a point to pitch magazine editors (query) and read different magazines with an eye to write for the publication. These articles are shorter than books and will reach many more readers than a typical book. With an article, it is easy to reach 100,000 readers where a book might sell 5,000 copies during the lifetime of the book. Also you can practice your storytelling craft on a shorter form than a 50,000 or 100,000 word book project.
Fourth, join an online writers' group. While the face to face contact of a local group is terrific, you can get huge help from a national online group as well. There are writer's forums or groups on places like Goodreads to learn from others as well. With any online group, it is wise to start as a lurker and read the conversations before jumping into the fray. For many years, I've participated in several of these online groups as a writer. I learn a great deal and I'm able to help others through these groups.
Fifth, read how-to write books to keep growing in the craft. Whether you buy these books (and I have purchase many of them) or check them out from your local library, this training is inexpensive. If you take action, you can expand your writing world and propel your career ahead.
Not one of these five actions are complicated or time-consuming. Every writer can take these simple steps. Many will not take action but if you move forward, then you will be ahead of others and succeed in this amazing business.
W. Terry Whalin is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing (a New York publisher). His writing has appeared in more than 50 magazines and he has written more than 60 books including Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams, Insider Secrets to Skyrocket Your Success. He has over 178,000 twitter followers and his blog on The Writing Life has over 1,300 searchable entries.
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