Most writers have a fantasy of writing their novel in a cabin in the remote wilderness. We have a vision of being secluded, of the Muse sitting next to us as we type the words she has given us. This romantic notion of what it means to be a writer is not only false, but it can be damaging, especially to writers new to the industry.
The problem with this fantasy is that it presupposes that authors work as solitary figures, that we don’t have to interact with other people, or as they say in the business world, “network.”
It took me years before I understood the power of attending live events. I spent years working in my office, hiding behind my monitor. It was easy for me to write, revise, and publish without ever interacting with another human being. While this can be empowering, especially for introverts, it is not a good long-term strategy.
When I began to attend live events, I started to meet other authors. It wasn’t so much what was happening on stage that was important, but what took place in the margins—mingling and meeting other authors. So many insights and solutions have come to me from these more informal conversations. Even though I leave live events drained and with a need to recharge, I always come home with something more valuable than the time I would have spent alone in my office.
It is possible and usually advised by many experts to leverage social media to mimic the interaction we would have in real life. For many authors, it can be beneficial to like, follow, repost, and retweet. Meaningful relationships can be started online and with social media. However, it is difficult for those relationships to reach the same meaningful depths that they do in real life.
The reality is that it’s not always possible to attend live events, or you might live in a place that is sparsely populated, and there is nobody near you who is working on the same types of things as you. It might mean that you have to travel to a different city a few times a year to make these types of connections with fellow authors.
A mastermind group is a great way to bridge the gap between shallow social media connections and deep, meaningful relationships in real life. Although the mastermind groups I’ve been part of have been predominantly online, they utilize live videoconferencing, which is better than clicking “like” on a post.
Many of the people in the mastermind groups I’ve been part of have had the opportunity to meet in real life. When you are seeing and talking to someone regularly—even through a video chat—you’re incentivized to get to know them in real life when the opportunity arises.
It is only natural for you to begin to gravitate toward the people in a mastermind group who share the same values as you or have the same life goals and ambitions. You begin to recognize the commonalities because you are seeing and talking to these people regularly. Many times, in many different masterminds, I’ve gotten to know someone and then carry that relationship far beyond the mastermind group, so much so that I’ve even collaborated with some of these people on certain projects.
Not everyone in a mastermind group is on the same level or proficient at the same skills. Some will be stronger with craft, others with marketing, others with the publishing process. Each writer brings their own unique level of experience and knowledge to the group. We learn from each other and help each other grow. As those relationships develop, we might begin to call it an authentic form of networking. Networking is simply the act of connecting with others who have similar ambitions and dreams. The longer you are in a mastermind group, the more likely you are to get to know them, and you will authentically begin networking by sharing knowledge, experience, or audiences.
In the independent author community, doing a “list swap” is a common practice. This is when two authors who are writing similar types of stories, or publish in the same genre, share the other person’s book with their audience. This can be a powerful way to grow your own audience because readers put more value in referred and curated content than they do random content or content presented through paid advertising. If an author tells their audience that they would like your book, chances are, they will give it a try.
Sending a cold ask for a list swap is usually frowned upon. Without any prior relationship or connection, most authors will not send a book to their list if they don’t know the author. Being in a mastermind group helps to break down those walls and allow people with similar audiences to organically and naturally share each other’s work.
Finally, if you tend to be shy or reticent about promoting your work, finding others in a mastermind group to help you is a great way to extend your own network. You might discover other authors with complementary skill sets, ones you don’t have, and vice versa. You can swap services and help each other in ways that would be impossible without any type of prior relationship. The ability to see and hear your fellow mastermind attendees regularly is the single most important way to begin networking, especially if networking doesn’t feel natural to you.
And networking can provide something that you can’t get as an isolated writer: feedback.
Want to take your writing chops and business savvy to the next level? Check out The Author Success Mastermind group at https://theauthorsuccessmastermind.com/join/