Thursday, April 25, 2013

How Being Social Helps Me as a Writer and Editor

Okay, first: TO BE A WRITER, ONE MUST WRITE.

To which I will add: TO IMPROVE AS A WRITER, ONE MUST LEARN AND PRACTICE.

However! There's a social element that has been helping to get my work published, and it's gotten me a job as an anthology editor, and I'm going to talk about that.

In a widely used and respected personality test (free to take here), I come out as an ENFJ (Extraverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Judging), which clearly affects the way that I work. I'm not even the biggest extravert in the world, especially not relative to the general pool of Americans, but relative to groups of mostly-introverted writers, I end up looking super-social. This explains the number of people I'm connected with on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. I just love 'em. Bring on the people!

This might seem a little frivolous, but consider what it's brought me:

  • I was invited to submit a story for an anthology, when I had never been published before, on the basis of a five-minute conversation that wasn't even about writing, because I introduced myself to an author on a convention panel and complimented the awesome title of his book, and gave him my card. He put me on an invitation list. I wrote and submitted a story, and it became my first published story.
  • I was asked to write a book review for a magazine, which was later published in that magazine, because I spent four hours working at a convention party (and I also received an awesome t-shirt for that).
  • I became a slush reader for Clarkesworld Magazine partially because of a recommendation from an editor I had met at a convention, and the slush reading experience improved me as a writer and also gave me the experience to become a short-story editor.
  • I have evaluated a novel manuscript for an agent I know in the UK, because of work that I did for him on a book he was writing when I met him, which was before he even became an agent.
  • I was asked to contribute an interview for Writers Workshop of Science Fiction and Fantasy during a ten-minute conversation at a convention, which led me to interview my favorite author, Tim Powers (who, by the way, I had already met at a convention).
  • I've been invited to submit stories for six other anthologies as a result of meeting editors and a publisher at conventions, and three of those were accepted for the books. One of the ones that wasn't accepted for its anthology went on to make me a semi-finalist in the Writers of the Future Contest. I would not have written any of these stories, or my first published one, without the guidelines given to me for the anthologies.
  • Knowing that publisher I met made it easy to apply knowledge gained from an editor I had met, and turn my anthology proposal into a real project. All of the authors who have submitted stories for What Fates Impose are people I've met, or I've interacted with online, or have been recommended to me by people I've met.
  • Okay? So in every case listed above, I actually did the work. I wrote the stories and the review, set up and conducted the interview, read the slush, and volunteered my time and effort to help people in a variety of ways. But none of those opportunities would have been there for me if I hadn't shown up at conventions, introduced myself to people, genuinely liked those people, and continued to pay attention to what they were doing online even when I couldn't see them in person. I was doing these things before anything of mine was published, and I'll continue to do them because I would definitely do the same things just for fun, even if I didn't expect to get anything else back from it at all. But the honest truth is that I have the start of a career because of being friendly and interested in people.

    Coming soon: How I Learned to Be Social Despite Having Introverted Parents

    2 comments:

    1. I love the connections afforded to us by social media and I really value my Twitter friends. I've gradually shifted my Twitter feed over the past year or two so that I follow more writers -- not ones with well-known names, but regular people like me. Reading about their experiences makes me want to write more.

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    2. That's great for me, too. I started on it back in the LiveJournal days, but it's even easier with Twitter and Facebook, imo.

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