By Rachelle Gardner
In publishing, we’re constantly asking writers—typically a rather introverted bunch—to get involved, to engage, to network, to join groups and go to conferences. I often find myself wondering how many of you cringe every time you hear that kind of advice.
Maybe you’re not into the whole publishing “scene.” Maybe you don’t enjoy being in a critique group where people discuss your work.
Maybe you don’t want to be part of a crowd, you don’t want to go to workshops, you don’t think of writing as a group activity.
Maybe social media is not your thing. The thought of promoting your book gives you hives. You don’t want to be a speaker or a blogger or a Facebook expert.
Can such a person find success in publishing?
Yes—but these days it’s rare.
You’d have to be pretty darned talented to begin with. If you’re not going to workshops to learn, and you’re not getting feedback on your work, then in order to snag an agent and a publisher, or even find a large audience through self-publishing, you’d have to be writing amazing stuff without benefit of the collaborative process. There are definitely some writers who can pull this off. You may be one of them. The only way to know is to try it and see what happens.
There are still stories of writers getting their agent through the query process, without ever networking or getting a referral or going to a conference. But eventually you’ll need to build an audience for your book, whether you’re with a publisher or doing it yourself. You are going to have to engage with your readers and potential ones.
Most of that can be done online, so if you’re at least comfortable with blogs and social networking, you should be able to market yourself just fine. You don’t necessarily have to be “out there” promoting except in the virtual world.
For all the emphasis on critique groups and workshops and conferences, we recognize the reality that not all writers are cut out for all that. While this kind of involvement does offer terrific advantages for those who are able to do it—and there are some people who would never find success if they didn’t avail themselves of every possible resource—all is not lost if you can’t.
In the past, writers have told me they can’t afford conferences, or don’t have access to them because they live in a remote location. Some have said they haven’t been able to find a critique group. I tell them it’s up to them to find success despite the limitations.
But I rarely hear from writers who say, “I am not interested in all that group stuff. I am a writer! I sit in my cave and write — by myself. I have no desire to do it any other way.”
Today’s your chance.