Sorry this is coming so late. It's taken me a few days to figure out what I want to say and end up with something I was happy with. I didn't think this was going to be this difficult.
I had a busy weekend when it came to making writing connections. I went to the romance writers get-together I mentioned a few weeks ago on Saturday, and Sunday met an author at a comic book convention. Both were wholy enjoyable experiences, and I got some good information from both, as well as a few networking connections.
One thing I got from both that I had never really thought about before was that, once the book is done, writing is a business. Just like with a regular job, it's about networking and who you know and who they know. It's trading business cards and having a public image, even if you don't have anything to show for it yet. When my friend told the author at the convention that I was an "aspiring writer", the author asked if I had a card. I had nothing to give him to help him remember who I am, even though he told me to feel free to contact him if I had any questions when I'm getting started with the querying process. I just have to HOPE he remembers "the girl from the convention who talked to you about writing superhero novels". The romance writers meeting was specifically focused on social networking and using Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest as writers. I got a business card from a woman who's "rebranding" with a new penname, and heard another talk about how she built up her twitter following before having anything out and how that affected her sales when her first novella came out. There was so much discussion about "brands" and "public image" and "networking" and other buzzwords you associate with businesses, and I never once thought about them as a writer.
But it's not wrong, really. If you want to be published traditionally, you want to know someone who knows someone. Yes, you can send things blindly, and yes, you can still get an agent or a publisher that way, but it's going to be a LOT harder. It's probably easier if you've got a network that can give you a boost over all the other people trying to get to that agent, that editor, that publisher. If you can say, "Oh, I'm ____ from Twitter, we talked about x and y a while back." If you can namedrop someone who told you to contact them. If you're self-published, you can make your book free for a while to get it out there, get people to know your name at the cost of sales. Or you can have a Pinterest and Twitter set up and let your followers know when your first book is coming out with a Facebook fan page waiting for them to join. Your friends and followers can retweet and repin or share on facebook. Do you want to roll the ball all the way there yourself, or do you want to give it a nudge and watch it go as social networking does its thing?
It really got me thinking. I'm not an "advertiser". On every blog I've had, I've kept my identity secret, not that it matters since almost every follower knows who I am anyway. Aside from one private forum, I don't advertise them anywhere that's attached to my real name because I want anonymity. When I'm finally done editing and the query letters are going out, though, there's nothing for anyone to find. Nothing to tell them who I am. No webpage or blog, no facebook account, no twitter, no pinterest, nothing under my chosen penname that an agent or publisher could use to see "okay, this girl's got people who might be interested in something with her name on it." I have no public internet presense, and I've been rolling changing that around in my head since Saturday. Setting up a pinterest account for my penname, making a twitter and learning how to use it... I'm still not 100% set on anything. All I'd ever thought was "write book, edit book, query until acceptance," but that's the old fashioned way, isn't it? In this social, online society, we've already seen changes in getting regular jobs. Why should I have thought that getting professionally published would be different? And yet, I managed to get my job the old fashioned way.
I don't know. I'm just in this place where I'm trying to figure out what steps to take now, and it feels like there are a lot more options to choose from. They all get me where I want to be, ideally, but what path do I take to get there?