Publishing is hard. There is so much to learn when you make the decision to publish. Will you go traditional, self-publish, or hybrid? Do you need an agent? Which publishing house is the best one for you?
Then there are all the questions about craft. What’s the best point-of-view to write in? How do I show versus tell? What the hell is show versus tell? How do I dig deep and squish my readers heart with emotions?
On top of learning the basics of publishing and writing there are also the other things that aren’t as obvious. The publishing world is very small. Who knows who? Has anyone else done what I want to do? Who are the people I should know about, avoid, watch?
It’s really hard to do all of this on your own. Which is why the first thing I did when I wanted to pursue publishing was check out writing organizations.
I write romance, so obviously the first place I went was Romance Writers of America. I kept seeing RWA and RITA finalist on various novels I’d read as a kid. I didn’t quite understand what it all meant, but when I wanted to write romance, I figured RWA was the place to start. That turned out to be the best thing for me.
Some people hate RWA. Some people are disenchanted by the organization. Some people can’t see past the negative hype even though the board is working hard to make the organization more inclusive. For me RWA gave a foundation and introduced me to so many people who’ve been helpful.
But say you don’t want to pay the fee to join RWA. I get it. I’ve even lapsed in some of my chapter memberships *cough cough* most of them.
I’ll reup in 2019. I promise.
If RWA isn’t the thing for you look for other writers in your area. In SC there is the SC Writers Workshop. I went to a few of their meetings. It was cool. I would read a few of my pages. The other writers there would critique them. There weren’t many romance writers in the group I visited, so I didn’t feel as if it was my niche, but it’s still a great place to go and meet other writers.
I got super lucky and was invited to a writer’s retreat in Destin, FL by the fabulous Farrah Rochon. Attending that retreat turned out to be the best decision I ever made. The Destin Divas (as we’ve dubbed ourselves) have become my backbone in this writing game. My safe space to talk out ideas, frustrations, and goals. I could to an entire post on what the Divas mean to me, but that’s for another day.
I’ve attended other writing retreats and my recommendation would be to try and attend a few. I found my first agent through a retreat. Made other writer friends I still connect with via social media. Learned a lot of behind the scenes info on publishing.
If you don’t know about a retreat, start your own! Reach out to some writer friends and see if they want to meet up. No need to be fancy or elaborate. Start with coffee and go from there.
Knowing that writing and publishing can be hard, and in some cases harder for Black romance writers, I started the Black Romance Author Network. The connections I made online that moved off line is one of the reasons I started this network. It’s a way for Black Romance Authors to discuss all of the things that I mentioned at the start of this post. No promotions, no readers, just black romance authors connecting and sharing information. Right now it’s a Facebook group over 100 members strong, but seeing the connections that have already been made makes my heart smile.
Writing can be lonely. We all know that. Find your tribe. Find a group that can help support you and educate you along the way. You’ll not only learn a few things, you might make a few lifelong friends.
What writer groups are you a part of?