Whether we’re non-fiction writers, fiction writers, editors, publishers, publishing marketers, artists involved in publishing, or anyone else who turns ideas into a book, we have to start somewhere. A lot of us dream of making it big. But, there’s a lot to learn before we get there. A few have made it big. They had to start somewhere too.
I’m not one to encourage working ‘on spec’. I don’t encourage giving our work away to no good end. But there’s a time and a way we can trade time for knowledge. And, if we do it right, we can make contacts and build our network at the same time. It’s called volunteering.
No, I’m not saying you’ll get a publishing contract handing out meals at a homeless shelter (though weirder things have happened). I’m suggesting you consider affiliating and working with a writer’s group or convention.
As I write this, I’m in my second year of working with the LDSPMA writing convention (this year at Utah Valley University!). I learned a lot last year and I’m learning more this year as I perform new duties and help those around me to succeed.
Last year, I met a lot of people (more than the year before, when I only attended the conference). I also found the confidence to pitch a book at the conference; learned a lot about press releases for books and events; and gained perspective on publishers that I’d like to work with.
This year, I’m doing more. This year, I’m getting a real inside look at how the movers and shakers do it. I’m building my name with the people who make the decisions, both for the conference and in the publishing houses. I’m gaining genuine experience and advice from folks in the know about how to handle the actual work of advertising our products, running meetings, working with volunteers, and reaching out to the folks we need to make our projects successful.
They say you have to know the right people. And knowing those people makes things easier. Guess what, if you don’t know them yet, working at a conference can help you meet them and make those connections. Working at a conference can teach you things and help you put your work out there successfully.
Yeah, it’s not all lovely beverages and fan worship. But volunteering at a conference helps us as much as it helps the conference attendees (often more so). It gives us access and opportunities that we might miss otherwise. And, if the conference relates to what we do, we’re not taking time away from our goals and purpose. We’re just moving toward them differently.
That’s it for this one, dear reader. Think about serving. Find success in your work. And (if I survive tonight’s board meeting) I’ll see you next post.