Something that’s always been difficult for me is finding a community. As most authors are, I’m pretty introverted, and this makes face-to-face interactions difficult sometimes. I get anxiety when I see people that I recognize, and sometimes I’ll go out of my way to not have to talk to them. I’ve always understood that finding a group of other authors to commune with was necessary, but I didn’t realize how connected it would make me feel until I realized that I’d accidentally stumbled into a community all on my own.
My first community was online.
The first place that I actively sought out other authors was Facebook. I joined a couple Facebook groups, and it was very exciting! I was very involved and I was so happy to have a place to discuss our craft. Unfortunately, as we all know can happen with online meeting places, things began to go south.
It soon became apparent that there were two types of people in the group: the new people who hadn’t written anything and needed to do their own research, and the people who had written things and had been through the process and were bitter about how ignorant the newbies were. Soon I began to see the dark underbelly of the group, and how ugly people could be to one another.
I think hiding behind a screen and a keyboard makes people more willing to be nasty to others, and I think that’s very unfair. Some people need the truth, but most people don’t need to be trashed for their efforts. We shouldn’t be competing against one another, we should be helping and pushing and encouraging. Seeing the opposite of this really soured me to the whole group, although I was fortunate enough to meet some really awesome people in the process. I made some connections, which ultimately led to me being asked to be part of a new podcast.
My second community built itself accidentally.
Last year in September, my sister and I had a table at a local comic event. We didn’t do very well, but I happened across a group of ladies who were selling their books. I ended up striking up a conversation with them, and learned that they were all members of the Houston Writer’s Guild. We traded books and I followed them on Facebook. We’ve loosely kept in touch over the last few months, pretty much only through following their doings on Facebook.
However, this vague relationship culminated last weekend at Comicpalooza. Because I’d kept in touch with these ladies, when I saw them at Comicpalooza, they recognized me! I even had one yell at me from behind her table, where I couldn’t see her, because she was so excited to see me. That was an awesome feeling!
I began to realize that I had accidentally networked myself into a small community, with the potential to join a larger community if I ever want to join the writer’s guild. It’s a very strange feeling to realize how many friends you have in your industry, especially when it seems like our work is so solitary.
What does this mean for you?
Author communities are great, especially for beginners. It’s always great to have wiser, more experienced authors to look to and to direct your questions. However, that being said, you should always try to do your own research. It’s very demanding of another person’s time to have to try to explain every little thing to a new author, and it can cause resentment. This obviously is not the proper way to handle the situation, but anyone who wants to step into a field they aren’t familiar with should do some reading first. There are many blogs and YouTube channels out there that talk about how to start and what you should be doing, including this series from Infinity Flower Publishing.
I would also encourage you to find a community in your immediate area. Find a local group that meets, a guild, or organization that works with authors. You will find resources for editors and designers, as well as meet some amazing people and be invited to do some amazing things. You’ll pick up lots of leads for selling your books and have someone who can help you if you get stumped.
It also feels good to be part of a community! 🙂