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Networking! You’ve heard before how authors are colleagues, not competitors, and how we need to stick together to get ahead. That’s all true. But there are social conventions and best practices to ask for help, and knowing how to ask is as important as knowing what to ask.
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<p>Writing is only part of a writing career -- no one warned us that we would need business acumen and entrepreneurship to be an author. Whether you're traditionally published or an independent self-publisher, it's good to have a leg up on accounting, marketing, time management, and other key skills.</p><br><p>These recordings of live discussion on craft and development, on business best practices, on explorations of fascinating and inspiring real life cool stuff, and more will help you along your writing journey and career development. Join Laura VanArendonk Baugh as she shares what she's learned and what she's learning. (Or join the weekly live discussion with your own questions!)</p><br /><hr><p style='color:grey; font-size:0.75em;'> See <a style='color:grey;' target='_blank' rel='noopener noreferrer' href='https://acast.com/privacy'>acast.com/privacy</a> for privacy and opt-out information.</p>
Hello, everyone, welcome to Tuesday evening, at least it’s my Tuesday evening and ShyRedFox you magnificent rainbow you. Thank you for the subscription. I appreciate it. All right. And I’m going to get — oh, shoot, I don’t have chat up. But you know what, it’s good enough, I can find you if I need you, OK? I’ll be fine. So, hey everybody, it is To Write And Have Written.
I am Laura VanArendonk Baugh and we have a big topic tonight that hopefully will get lots of fun, fun discussion with and it will be, I hope, useful to some people.
Oh, hello. There’s a Rhonda in the chat, so I’m just going to not talk about how much crying I did over that cyberpunk story that I did send in over the weekend, thank God, finally got that out. Yeah, definitely, definitely did not get that in less than two hours before the deadline. That is positively somebody else we are talking about. Hey, guys
while you’re here. If you get the purple screen of death here live on Twitch tonight, just let me know, because I don’t, I won’t be able to see if that happens for you, but we’re trying to track how often that is happening to people.
So, oh, Rhonda says she can’t stay long. So I can talk about the story later. Now all my crying is done. I’ve had my dark chocolate. It’s good. Actually, I want to thank you. It was really good for me. You stretched me. That was a genre, that was not usually my stomping ground and I had a good time going and doing something new. So however that worked out, I learned, I became a better writer.
I cried and ate chocolate, OK? I didn’t cry, I did eat the chocolate. But anyway, so yes, I did get it in on time. Oh, Alena says me too.
OK, yeah. OK. Yeah, yeah. Just we’re just going to if you if you have not seen the purple screen of death, great. But if you if your screen suddenly goes purple and Twitch says, why are you, you’re not allowed to look at the stream, just drop that in the chat so we can find out what’s going on.
So OK. Yeah, stretching limits. Good chocolate. Very good. Yeah. That’s how it worked out. So tonight’s topic is all about networking, which I guess means and thrilled that I have like this lovely little chat going on at the beginning with all of you guys. Thank you so much.
This is a huge thing. And I’m going to skip straight to the chase and I’m just going to assume that if you’re hearing the sound of my voice, you already agree that networking is important. So we’re just going to skip all the reasons why that might be. “Me, too” was with regard to Rhonda’s story, not the purple screen of death. Yes. So you got yours in ahead of deadline, though.
Mine was eeeeeeee slide in under that door. Yeah.
So, OK, so I’m calling this how parentheses not to network because I am going to share some networking gone wrong stories. Everything, by the way is true, but ridiculously sanitized and anonymized. So I don’t think anybody’s going to be trackable or traceable from stories that I am going to share because honestly some of them are funny, but I actually do have a reason for sharing them that’s not just, you know, let’s laugh at people who made mistakes.
That’s not that’s not a great reason to do something. But I do have a reason. But we’ll get to honestly, like I have notes, we’re going to do this in order.
I’m just not getting there. So here’s the thing. We understand that networking is important. We know that authors are colleagues, not competitors. And, you know, the thing that I always try to emphasize is, you know, my ideal reader that I am trying to reach, you know, my dream demographic is not the person who reads one book in a year or in a lifetime. Right. So I am not going for a zero sum situation where either Rhonda can sell a book or I can sell a book.
Actually, today we can both sell a book, because Clockwork, Curses, and Coal is out this day. So there you go. There’s my, there’s my totally shameless plug for Rhonda and myself. But it is not a zero sum game where there only one author going to get to sell a book, so we all are competing for that one book sale. We are — ShyRedFox says, all the books. Yeah, exactly. Like I’m going to pick up more books than I can read anyway, and that’s just me.
So we, the more that we can network and share and do for each other, the better it will be.
So back in the before times when we went to places and sold books occasionally in person, every time I went to an author fair or some sort of, you know, public library book event or something, I would set up my booth set at my table and then I would do a circle around the event to see, you know, sometimes I’d recognize people there. Sometimes I had no clue who these people were. We would meet for the first time and I’d look and say, oh, you write thrillers, OK?
And so then during the day, people would stop by my booth and say, oh, I’m looking for a book for my grandson. Oh, OK. So how old is he? He’s 12. Well, that’s not actually what I write, but is he into dragons, lizards, you know, whatever, you know, something like.
Oh yeah, he likes that stuff. Let me take you to and I’d walk them over to the corner where I had met somebody that day who was writing great about lizards or, you know, whatever the case may be.
And this is just routine, because this is really helpful, for one to the kid who now has a book, two, to this other author that I’ve made friends with, three to the person who was actually buying the book for, I’ve built some goodwill on the planet. OK, so like even if I’m not financially profiting from this, it’s still beneficial. And at some point that’s going to come back around to me. So let me just say that, you know, obviously networking is and just and just cooperating is is key to success in this industry.
That said, there are some conventions and some social best practices that are better ways to approach this than some other practices. And while you would think that this would normally be covered in how to be a civilized adult human, that is not always the case.
So let’s work through some ways that are maybe not the best way to approach it, and then let’s work through what are good ways to network and to get the most value out of this. And I’m just going to preface this with, you know, there’s going to be a fair amount of please don’t do this, especially at the beginning of this. The second half of this talk is how to do this.
And I don’t want this to come across in the least as people don’t want to be bothered. Guys, I am telling you, the creative community is ridiculously over helpful, I would say in some cases. Like you are not going to find a group of people that is not more thrilled to share or to assist or to to help somebody who’s getting started or to boost somebody who’s like almost there but needs a push. And I mean, just in our relatively small community that does this show live as opposed to on replays,
I know, I think at least I’m going to say four people that are in the chat that I have done edits for or blurbs for or something, and just that I know people are trading and, you know, swapping, you know, beta reading for each other, that kind of thing. I mean, this is this is what the community does, OK? But, you know, there’s the classic joke about trapping the agents, the literary agent in the bathroom and then slipping your manuscript under the stall to them, and we all laugh about that because it is the classic joke.
But I will tell you, I have talked to several agents who said, yeah, it’s not a joke, OK? Or they come out of the restroom and there’s a person of the opposite sex poised, waiting to pounce on them. And so let’s talk about ways to approach people and ways to to get asks, because at some point I’m going to ask somebody to blurb my book or I’m going to ask somebody if I can have space on their social platform to reach their demographic.
And so we need better ways of doing this than, you know, attacking people in the restroom.
Let’s not do that.
So I’m going to talk first about some things that I’ve seen that are probably not the best way to do this. Again, the purpose of these stories — Well, you’re welcome to take one reason as, oh, wow. At least I feel better about some of my choices. OK, if that helps you to get through your day, great. Take that. I do have actual reasons why I’m sharing these stories, but first of all, we’ll talk through the things.
So my first example, my first category is people who did not plan their approach and their ask to be in the best possible way. So one that I witnessed very recently, this was not directed to me, but I was in the room where it happened, so to speak, which was online, and a person approached staff for an event, an online event. So I’m watching all this happen, you know, in the chat and “your design is terrible.
I can’t find what I want,” some colorful metaphors that are not allowed in certain brackets on TV, that kind of thing.
And so staff’s like, oh, what do you, what are you looking for?
Let’s help. “Well, actually, I don’t need your help. I just wanted to tell you how awful it was.”
“OK, thanks. Have a nice day.” You know, the con staff is being very professional about this. And then the person who’s posted said, “but you’re more than welcome to follow me on my social media! List list list list list.” Which, OK, that’s an odd sell. I’m not sure that, you know, “hey, I’m angry and cussing you out” is the best way to get me to follow you on social media. But great.
And then the next thing, like an hour passed and then the next thing that he posted was, “would you consider having me as a guest? I would like to be a guest at your event.”
I’m just going to venture that he’s probably not going to get asked in as a guest. He’s not setting the tone of somebody who really is going to be fun to work with. OK, so this person by by presenting his case in this way, not only ensured that he’s not going to be a guest at that event, he also ensured he’s never going to be a guest at any event that I’m in charge of, because I’ve looked at this and I’m like, this is not going to be a person who’s fun to collaborate with.
OK, this is this is you know, this is a temper tantrum waiting to happen. Similarly, did not plan the full — by the way, I totally just caught on that Hamilton was going on the chat. I completely missed that. I’m sorry. Let’s all get our “room where it happens” vibe out and then move on.
But so likewise, I was at an event. I’m at my table. Obviously, this is in the before times, so I’m in public. I’m at my table. I’m actively selling and signing books. And a guy comes up to me and he’s like, Oh, you’re an author. Yes, I am actively selling and signing books, you know? Yeah. And he’s like, Oh, I’m a writer. Let me give you my thing and you can edit it for me here.
And he pulls out his phone and he pulls up his manuscript on his phone and he hands it to me across the table and then just waits expectantly and I’m like.
I can’t first of all, I’m not gonna like, “young man, I don’t know how to explain this to you. I can’t just edit to your manuscript. Over on a cell phone for free, with no background on you or anything, while I am supposed to be having a signing.” You know, it was just it was such blatant opportunism and just made me a commodity.
And I understand, like, probably you don’t understand what you’re asking, but that manuscript edit is an in-depth and not cheap thing, okay?
So, yeah, “at a con while I’m working, doing my job, which is not editing your book.” Exactly. Bridger got that straight up. And so something, that if if he had planned his approach differently, probably we could have had a great conversation. Possibly I could have helped him out either myself or directed him to some other good resources. But once you’ve put me in that position, even if I wanted to help you, I really can’t.
And you’ve not put me in a place where my top priority is getting you what you want, OK?
Because you’ve made me feel kind of like a utility actually at that point.
And likewise and this is just a general general rule. Don’t be a booth barnacle. And if you hang out on the convention circuit, you know what that term means. If it’s not familiar to you: barnacles, of course, being the sea creatures that latch onto things and a booth barnacle will be a person who attaches himself to a table and refuses to leave. There are two kinds of booth barnacles. One is the legitimately clueless
“I like this work and I want to I want to form a relationship. So I’m going to hang out here all day until you love me.” And the other is, “I know you can’t leave and I’m the creeper who’s going to stay here and do creepy things because you can’t leave.” The problem is that people at the table don’t know which category a person is when he starts. It usually becomes obvious pretty quickly.
But either way, there is no good way for that person at the table to, there’s no exit at that point because their job is to be at the table. It’s just like coming in, you know, harassing the barista.
And so. Yeah, sorry.
The Hamilton Hum-Along, it’ll probably come up again. So so just general rule of thumb, don’t be a booth barnacle. If you are, we’ll give you our secret handshake in the world. If you are at a table experiencing or you see somebody trapped by a booth barnacle, there are there are a number of ways you can aid that person. I definitely have slipped in a number of times like, “oh, so-and-so is on the phone.
They really need to talk to you. I’ll hold your table for ten minutes while you go take care of that.”
And so, you know, sometimes you can you can help people that way. And I did it for one poor editor, a publisher who, this guy was bound and determined she was going to take his manuscript over the table.
And so I’m like, “oh, you got to go. I’ll hold the table for you. And then, oh, I’m not the editor, so I can’t accept anything.” And eventually, you know, he got bored and left and she was able to come back.
Guys, you’re not selling your product by being creepy. Don’t, let’s not do that. So with that, we’ve said they’re, like these are the things not to do. What is helping those to go wrong is just a lack of planning, but also a lack of understanding what these people actually wanted out of the situation. You know, do you just want to say, “I’ve been close to so and so” and just, you know, you’re the star collector.
And so you need to stay close enough to get the selfies and and to be like, “oh, I totally know this big shot editor name” or, you know, whatever. Do you want marketing from this person? Do you want them to help you to promote something? If so, what kind do you want? Because just “I want help” is not very specific. It’s not going to help you to plan. So and just knowing, truly, knowing what you actually want out of the situation is going to prevent a lot of disappointment.
So I’ve got one more story of things that went wrong and this, I’m going to tell the story. This is the personal story but just a reminder, I’m in somewhere between two and three dozen writing groups online. It covers a lot of territory. There are literally tens of thousands of people here. And like so I’m telling the story pretty positive that’s going to be anonymous as it goes out here. But in one of my groups, you know, somebody was struggling with her book and it’s her first manuscript and she’s really trying to get this right.
And she thinks it’s ready to go, but she doesn’t have money for an editor. And I’m like, hey, you know what? Like, I’ll be happy to look at that for you. Send it over. Not the whole manuscript. Send me, you know, X number of chapters or whatever. And and — oh, sorry, I didn’t mean to throw anybody under the bus, you know? Yeah, “I’m realizing I have booth barnacled.” Let me back up just briefly.
Generally speaking, you know, if somebody is legitimately enthusiastic, that’s not the problem. The problem is when they’re starting to be enthusiastic into the third and a half hour, maybe that’s an issue.
But I think we’ll talk more later and it will become more clear. But as long as… We’re trying to avoid the creepy vibes, that’s that’s what I’m after.
And that’s something that, I have been backed up with my back against a wall in a row of of booths and tables. That’s not the sales tactic that’s going to work.
OK, that’s, I’m not listening to your pitch. That was somebody trying to sell me a thing. Like, I’m not listening to your pitch. I’m trying to figure out an escape route and how big a social debacle it’s going to be when I push you and run.
So that’s what we’re trying to avoid there.
So, OK, everybody is like, “oh, no, I’ve been the booth barnacle!” But guys like, “hi, I like this. I’m going to hang out and look at your stuff” is not the… Yeah, there’s a line that crosses like. So don’t assume that being at the tables — the tables are there for you to be at. OK? That’s OK!
Just don’t be a creeper at the tables. Yeah. And Alena is pointing out the other big risk of booth barnacles is even with great intentions, if other people can’t get to the merch, you know, then you’re hurting sales. So if I’m at somebody’s booth for more than just I’m picking up your stuff and making a purchase, I try to move to the side so that other people can actively see the displays, pick up the displays, that sort of thing.
Yeah, we can maybe circle around and spend more time on booth etiquette because that’s that’s definitely a topic of itself. But don’t assume that if you were at the table that you were necessarily a problem. That is not at all the impression I meant to leave. So, OK, going back. OK. So this person wants to send out her work. She doesn’t have money for professional editor. I said I’m happy to look at it, you know, send me another eight, 10 chapters, whatever it was.
And it is kind of rough. And so that’s OK, it’s her first manuscript. That’s fine. So I spent hours editing and very, very carefully wording things because I don’t want to, I don’t want to be mean. Like, that’s not my goal here. My goal is to help her.
But I’m like, OK, this is what’s going to need some work. This is pretty good. Lean into this.
But this is where I need some polish over here, that kind of thing.
Rhonda’s got nervous face. Yeah.
So I sent it back with ridiculous amounts of notes in it and then with a note on top saying, OK, don’t be scared by all the notes. A lot of them are good. But I did put some places that you’re going to need some polish before it goes out. Please talk to me if you have questions about this.
I didn’t hear anything, so a few days went by and I just like, I didn’t get anything back at all. So I just sent like, “hey, did, you know, did it fail because of the attachment? I just want to make sure it reached you.
And if you have any questions, send it back.” And I didn’t hear anything. And I started seeing some posts going on online and I was like, oh, OK. She didn’t actually want an edit. What she wanted was somebody to gush about it and say how awesome it was. What she got was feedback. And, you know, even though, again, I swear to you guys, it was not mean.
But it wasn’t what she wanted. It wasn’t what she was expecting, regardless of what she said. Here’s the rest of the story, because that’s not that uncommon. OK, that happens all the time. Here’s the rest of the story and why this is going to play into the next segment. About a month, two months later, you know, whatever in that community, and this happens all the time, it’s very common online that your writing group will have a thread where everybody gets to put their social media up and they can all follow each other, you know, look for people who are doing similar markets or similar brands, genres or whatever.
So that’s pretty common. And this person said, hey, I want to start a Twitter exchange so I can follow people on Twitter. Everybody list your your Twitter handles. So we did.
And I must say, we got three, four dozen people who listed their Twitter has in there and every single one of them. She went down. “Thanks. I followed you. Thanks. I followed you. Thanks. I followed you.” Thirty-some people. She gets to me. “I’m looking for people I can be friends with.”
“Thanks. I followed you. Thanks. I followed you. Thanks. I followed you.” And I just kind of stared at that for a minute.
So first of all, like, if that was supposed to be a sick burn, it didn’t have the effect you wanted because all I’m feeling is a sense of relief. Thank goodness I did not, you know, get involved with — you know, this is not a person who’s going to be a joy to collaborate with. Like, I’m not going to be able to recommend this person to other writers or to editors. And, yeah, Bridger is going, “wow. And publicly.”
That’s the thing. That’s exactly the thing. Like, I understand if I got more critique than I expected, I need a while to process it. That’s fine. But if two months later you’re publicly salty about it, that tells me that I probably don’t want to sign up to work with you professionally. So where — and that’s been like a long while ago. Totally, totally not findable at this point. I’m very comfortable telling that story because I know it’s anonymous — but that’s the reason I’m telling the story is now when we start talking about how to approach people, here’s the thing.
Assume that any person you’re approaching to try to network with has just had a crazy experience with someone who took them for granted and tried to take advantage of them. Rhonda’s looking, that’s great. If, and we’re going to come back to this, but guys, I am a very, very small fish in the publishing ocean, OK, if I can tell you the number of these stories that, I’m only telling you things that are very, very safely anonymous and very, very, very distant, like nothing I’ve told you has happened, none of the personal stories that I’ve told you have happened within the past year, the online event, one that was more recent, but that’s also not connected publicly to me.
And so if I, as a relatively small fish can say, well, here’s a number of examples that I can just whip off very safely, assume that anybody you’re approaching has had multiple such experiences and possibly the day before you’re talking to them.
And — ha, Rhonda’s like, “I know enough people like that, I don’t need to seek them out.” Yeah, absolutely. And so we need to plan our approach in such a manner as to indicate that we are not going to be another one of those bad experiences. So if you can be honest about what it is that you’re trying to get out of it and try to do, trying to get out of this networking relationship, one, it’s more fair to the person you’re networking with, and two, it’s more fair to you.
You know, if she had known what she wanted, neither of us would have been put in that position. And then if you can be honest with the person you’re asking, that’s going to set up a totally different dynamic and a much more user friendly and productive relationship. The other example I’m going to pull out, and this one is not a writing example, this one is in my day job, you know, behavior example. And I got a phone call about a particular case, which is something I specialize in.
So it’s not unusual that I get that call. And it was like, “oh, this is my scenario.
These are the details. What would you do to address this? How do you think you could help?” I’m like, OK, let me start talking about, you know, generalities and things. And I started to catch on, like as we were talking, like, this just doesn’t sound like a typical client interaction, you know, what’s what’s going on. And. It finally came out. I’ll just cut to the chase. It came out that this was not a client with this situation who had called me.
This was another trainer who had called me as if she had a client with a situation and just to feel me out and try to try to get what I would say. And I’m just like, oh, my gosh.
If you had called me and said, “hey, I’d like your professional opinion on this,” we could have had a conversation, OK? But because I feel like you tried to trick me out of my knowledge — Bridger is like she’s seen that happen. Yeah. You know, and what it is, is instead of having a professional collaboration now, I feel like you tried to deceive me. And that’s, again, not setting up a great professional relationship.
OK, so just be honest about what it is that you want. Sometimes that means you have to do some thinking about what it is you actually want.
But, you know, take the time, get details. That also means that if the person says yes, you don’t stand there and go, I have no idea how to how to, how to practically apply this. You’ve got your things ready to go. So and then the other thing is to be realistic, you know, and and I’m talking definitely right now about making asks. Networking is not all just asking for things, OK, but getting that out of the way first.
Because at some point it is going to be a part of it.
But then be realistic about what it is that you want. And one of the things that, again, true example, not lately, but definitely happened with somebody who was very angry. And the quote was, “You retweeted that person’s promotional sale, but you didn’t review my book for me.” And I’m like, OK. First of all, my priority is, will this be valuable to my readers? OK, if I’m going to promote somebody else’s book, it needs to be something that’s connected to my brand, my marketing, or I’m wasting my readers’ time and that’s not good for them or me.
Secondly, the flowchart for, you know, for retweeting: “Oh, so and so’s book is on sale.
Will my readers like this. Yes. Click retweet.” That’s it. Like the entire flowchart is three seconds long to complete. If I review a book, that’s eight to ten hours minimum, and then I’m writing and in all of this and you know… And also, and here’s the thing, this is my very first contact with this person. I have no idea who this person is. Go back to, we’re not setting up for personal, we’re not setting up for a great professional relationship, because our first contact is you yelling at me because I wasn’t actively scouring the Internet for new books that I could review and send to my readership.
OK, yes, the chat, thankfully, is outraged with me. So “that is so privileged sounding. Wow. A complete stranger.” Yeah, that’s really how I felt about it. Like, I don’t even know you and you’re angry at me that I have not given up 10 hours of my life the way I gave up three seconds of my life for somebody I probably had known and had good relationships with. OK, so again, it comes back to just be honest, be realistic.
We’re going to talk about things that are not asking for help. But I wanted to talk about this stuff first because this is you know, these are the big rocks, OK? This is this is where you can get. OK, Adam, thanks for stopping by. Kate’s like, “gosh, Laura, why didn’t you help this person?”
Yeah, so this is what I’m saying again, the reason I’m telling these stories is not — I mean, yeah, if you want to take them and be like, “oh, thank God, at least that wasn’t me,” great. You take that and hold on to it. You know, sometimes sometimes the good that we do in the world is to be the example, like that happens. I’ve definitely been that example for other people. But again, it goes back to, if I, as a relatively small fish, have had multiple such experiences, just assume that anybody and definitely, definitely anybody bigger than me — and heavy air quotes there, because I don’t even know what that means —
But, you know, if you are approaching somebody with more weight, you know, if we’re approaching an agent or an editor or a household name author or, you know, somebody, they have definitely —
I’m not, I don’t have enough mass and gravitas to attract the really crazy approaches.
Just assume that they have had stuff shoved them under the toilet stall and that you’re the first person approaching them after that. So it will help you to craft your approach to be much more personable. So, OK, Kate, it was not you, I’ll tell you that right now.
So OK. And then I will always say too, no matter, if you do any kind of ask, no matter what the response is, thank the person for their input or for their response, because, you know, you did take their time. And and if nothing else, you want to make sure that you leave a good impression. So Bridger is asking, is there too much backpedaling? Hey, in my perfect world, we’re going to craft, when we get to this, we’re going to craft an approach that requires no back pedaling.
So that’s ideal. If you realize, you know, OK, I’ll put myself back at the table because this is something: I’m at somebody’s table. OK, look, you know what? I’m just going to use Rhonda as an example because she’s in the chat and I feel like I can probably safely do this to her. So Rhonda has got a table. She’s selling stuff.
I’m like, “oh, hey, this book has me in it!” I’m all excited.
So I’m coming over and I’m hanging out with Rhonda and I’m talking to the other authors who are at Rhonda’s table because she’s got some people. They’re signing books that she’s getting to sell, you know, whatever. And and then I realize I’m standing in front of the table and I’ve been standing in front of the table now for several minutes. And so I’m actually kind of blocking traffic and preventing access to the authors who are there to sign books. And at that moment, I would just, “oh, my gosh, I’m in front of your table.
I’m so sorry.” You know, I could step to the side at that point or I could be like, “hey, do you guys want me to bring you some donuts? I’ll go pick up some whatever from the booth” and so I can remove myself out of that. Honestly, I think if people just realize that… You know, every person, me especially, I have been passionate in a moment and effervesced a little too hard, that is a thing that could happen.
OK, Rhonda likes donuts. Good.
So if I overenthuse, you know, generally speaking, you know, if you’re just like, “oh my gosh, I didn’t mean to be blocking access to your table. Let me let me get out of the way,” I don’t think anybody’s going to be upset by that. It’s when you are knowingly doing that, that it becomes an issue. That’s that’s the problem. So.
Oh, hey, thanks for the follow! Is that Bobicus? So “effervesced a little too hard,” that is. Yeah, but I mean, it’s an accurate description, I feel like. OK, so I want to tell a story really quickly about thanking and this is a good story. So spoiler happy ending. But I got an email not terribly long ago from somebody saying, hey, can you send me some paperback books so I can review them?
And she did not have a venue yet to review. That is something that she was planning on starting. And so I was being asked to ship paperbacks that I had paid for. And I kind of just cringed when I saw the email because I get this, you know, a fair amount. “Hey, can you send me free books?” is an email that authors get often. And I knew where this was going to go. And it usually ends with, if you cared about your stories, you’d give them away. You’re a terrible person, you know, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And so my first instinct, honestly, was just to ignore the email because I’ve had this conversation before. But instead I waited a few days.
I’m like, OK, fine, don’t assume the worst, just, you know, be an adult.
And I sent back an email saying, hey, thanks for your inquiry. It’s actually not really feasible for me to send free books to everyone who asks, even if you’re going to review, because I need to you know, that costs me money for the books and for the shipping. And then I need to have some expectation that, you know, the review is going to help recover some of those costs. And you don’t even have a platform yet.
But here are things you can do, when you get your platform established and then this is a way that you can approach an author with with your platform established. And I send it off and I was like, OK, like, there it is.
Well, I got an email back and she said, “thank you. And she’s like, these are great. This is great help. Thank you so much. I will be in touch with you in the future.” And I’m like, oh my gosh. Like one, I didn’t get cussed out, always a plus, two, she thanked me for my time and the and the tips I had given her.
And when that person contacts me in the future, yes, I will happily work with her because she has proven to be a professional, responsible, civilized human being.
And I would be glad to work with her and even to help her get her platform started, because she has shown that she respects my time and work as well.
So Bridger is like, “is that the author version of if you don’t train the dog for free, it’s your fault he goes to the pound or gets put down?” Yes, it’s totally that. It is 100 percent. Yeah. If you don’t train this, this death or this bite is your fault. And if you don’t send me a free book, I’m going to leave a terrible review on all of your other books. And yeah, these are totally, totally real things that.. See above re “should be covered under by, civilized human adult.”
Hey Grace, thanks for stopping by. So, where was I? I have no notes, no idea where I am in my notes, I was just effervescing, that’s what I was doing. OK. So always think the person for their input and response, even if, you know, even if it’s not exactly what you wanted. Again, they gave time and sometimes, sometimes it’s not their fault if what they responded with is slightly different than what you wanted, maybe your question wasn’t super clear. One that I observed, not too long ago, you know, hey, I’m having I’m having trouble with this, can anybody help me with this? The response was, you know. Oh, I see, I see what you’re talking about. Try X. And here’s details where you can learn about X. And the first person’s response was, I’m already an expert at that, very curt.
And I’m like, well, so first off, kind of clearly you’re not, or you wouldn’t have been asking the question.
And secondly, that person was offering their best, you know, advice. And I will just completely be honest, that kind of thing experienced on the regular really does burn people out from giving advice, because I don’t want to invest time and energy to get yelled at. And I’ll be brutally honest, and again, I’m in a lot of groups, guys, but there are some individuals in some groups that every time they post, I just scroll by because it is not worth the time in trying to answer those questions. It’s really not.
So. OK, Alena saying, nice book series you have. There would be a shame if someone left a one star review.” That is not a joke. OK, people do that. People do that. What’s wrong with people? Yeah, so OK, OK, Rhonda sticking me in the ear while she cooks dinner, I am so honored to be included in somebody’s dinner, like that is like the highest level of praise there.
Yes. So Bridger says, “I’ve heard them called askholes and it makes me so happy to have a word for it.”
That’s not a bad term, actually, because it is a hole where all of your advice falls down and all of your good intentions go to die. And then we’re going to stop right there.
Yeah. So so here’s the thing. If maybe your question wasn’t as clear or maybe it just wasn’t the answer that you wanted to hear or whatever, people did try to answer it. So thank them for their time.
If they didn’t understand the question, if whatever it was went wrong, don’t take answers personally, don’t take advice personally. You know, in that particular case, they didn’t say you were an idiot. They said, here’s where you can get help with this, and got snapped at for it. Especially if there’s no personal relationship, don’t take things personally, OK? If if you’re if you’re asking in an online group and people are answering back, they’re speaking to thousands of people besides you. Don’t take it personally. They’re answering generally. They’re assuming from a statistical likelihood. So it’s probably not really personally about you.
Even if they’re looking at your specific work, they’re talking about your work, not about you. And jump back to, I think it was January that we talked about taking criticism and how to read criticism for what its actual value is. And it’s not about me as a person. So that and, just the short version, obviously appreciate their time, respect their time and don’t burn bridges.
Even if you didn’t get what you wanted this time, leave that open that you can go back and talk to people later. So, OK, yeah. All right, so again. If if I’m just looking around and watching this stuff happen, and if I have this many stories that can be safely anonymized in in a relatively short period, just assume that when you’re approaching people that they… I always try to think of it…
OK. Here’s another story I didn’t plan to tell this one but it’s a great example. I am in a bookshop. I am doing a signing in an independent bookstore. I’m sitting at my table, you know, near the door. And it’s not that far from the door to the back of the store where where the desk is.
And while I’m sitting there, a person walks in the door, walks right by me, walks right by every every book on the shelf, goes directly to somebody who’s trying to do work in the back and says, “I’m an independent author. I want you to carry my books.” And the person says, “OK, we’d be happy to look at,” she’s like, “I’ve got them in the car, I can bring them in, you can give them cash for me now.”
And I’m sitting here like, “Is this a stunt? Like are there cameras that I should be looking for?” And the person who’s there, who, first of all, is not the shop owner and can’t just decide to hand over cash for books that have appeared on her shift.
And she’s like, well, you know, if you want to leave some contact information, I’ll take it.
And the woman gets very irate that they’re not just going to buy her books and she leaves.
And at this point now there’s just the two of us standing close and and we look at each other and and I’m like, “do you, have you seen her before?”
And she’s like, “first time she’s been in.” So when I approach bookstores to carry books, I always try to imagine that that is their last contact with an author, especially with the self published author.
As you know, I’m hybrid. I sell both traditionally and self publish. And and so sometimes we might have a bit of a rep because sometimes there are some loose cannons that are out there making a reputation.
And so I just try to say, OK, this was their last person. I’m going to come in and I’m going to be so professional and so amiable and so helpful that it’s it’s going to counter that taste that’s in their mouth.
So, yeah, I love how Bridger just said this! “Rule of thumb: assume everyone you’re asking has been approached by the comments section recently and then be better than that.” Yes. Yes, that is absolutely a great way to think of it. Their last conversation was the comments section on the Internet. And you have to come in and recover from that. And what that means is, you will come in with such a professional orientation. You will have exactly you want, where that’s going to go, what you can offer them in return, because that’s part of an ask.
You know, all of those things are going to be ready to go.
And you’re not just coming and being like, hey, out of the good will of your heart and because I deserve it, give me stuff.
OK, and so here’s, now let’s talk about how to do this in a much more practical way, because that’s been a lot of gloom and doom and oh, my gosh, please, please don’t.
Let’s talk about what please do might look like. Bridget nails it, yes, absolutely. Yeah.
So first of all. Networking does not start with asking, networking starts with being a civilized adult human and making and building relationships. So an example that I am doing right now.
Excuse me, enthusing too hard and running out of running out of speaking. OK, so example that I’m doing right now, as I have recently become more active on Discord, I don’t know how I feel about this. Discord still feels strange to me, but darn it, I am an adult and I’m going to learn a new thing and I’m getting it.
So here we go.
And so I have joined a number of new Discord communities that I don’t feel fluent in, and I don’t know most of the people in these communities. And so I am not going to walk in and be like, “Hi, my name’s Laura, I have books, please buy them.” That’s not how I’m going to start this. I’m going to start by coming in kind of reading and getting a feel of what the different vibes are in the different channels.
I’m going to start liking some comments. I will occasionally respond to some comments. I’ve had a few instances where people were asking questions and I was like, I know the answer to that. Here’s useful information. Here’s links to the thing that you were specifically asking about.
Rhonda, you have a Discord? I didn’t know you had a Discord.
I mean, nobody knows I have a Discord, because I haven’t officially launched it yet. But I’ll get to that.
But yeah, go ahead and go ahead and throw your your Discord invite in the chat if you don’t mind, and I’ll come and catch it later. So Rhonda says I suck at lurking guys. I don’t necessarily mean lurking. Oh hey Ron, thanks for following. I love a Ron Weasley.
So I don’t mean you necessarily have to lurk. I mean you just don’t throw the doors back and announce yourself and expect everything that’s already in progress to stop because you walked in. And I feel like most of us have been in a real life or virtual situation where that happened and. OK, yeah.
Now there’s a Discord exchange in the chat. Everybody go, that’s fine. Everybody throw your Discord links in.
So you know what? I’m going to drop mine in right now and then we’ll catch up, then we’ll continue. Can I invite people? We’re going to invite people. OK. There you go. My Discord’s not even officially open yet. You guys get to come in and see the dust and the dirt and all the things.
All right. Anyway, so I’m trying to participate in picking up in conversations that are already going on.
It’s just like in real life when people are talking and you walk up and you stand on the edge of the conversation and you nod for a little bit and then you laugh at somebody’s joke, and then you say something relevant to what they’re saying.
You don’t approach the conversation to be like, by the way, I like squirrels! Less helpful to get a continuing thing going.
Oh, Kate’s got a food channel discord. OK, that’s awesome. I mean, I like food. Yeah.
OK, so and I’m not just randomly shoving in mentions of my stuff where it was not asked for. There will come a point where I have built enough relationship and enough community good vibe to know. Oh OK. Yeah, this is a good place where that will fit. But I’m not just going to walk in and start doing that. OK. OK,
“My Discord is not officially open yet. Chat beats down the door. Book booth barnacles!”
Oh yes. Awesome. You can’t barnacle a Discord. Everybody can still get in. It’s ok.
So I’m respecting people’s time and respecting people’s interests and energy and the stuff they’re already doing there. And here’s the key. My first impression. I want to be a interested, helpful, fun human, not as a walking sales promo.
OK, so do try to build some relationship before I start pushing my product.
And if I can build enough relationship, if I can become respected and reliable as a member of that community, then when I say, hey, guys, I’ve got this lanch that’s coming up, would anybody mind, you know, retweeting this or promoting this thing or, you know, whatever it is that I know that I’m going to ask for help with, by that point, people will one already know me and my brand well enough to know whether or not they’re comfortable helping to promote that.
And by comfortable, I don’t mean, oh, my gosh, we can’t talk to her. She’s evil. I mean, more of a well, you know, you write angsty epic fantasy. And I write, you know, middle grade first dates. So it’s not really going to be a great match.
Hey, all the social well wishes. Great.
But I don’t expect you to promote my work to middle grade, you know, first date readers. OK, so, yeah, I don’t even know if middle grade, first date is a thing. I totally just made that up. But the idea. There we go. So.
Oh, bye Ron. So anyway, so what I had to say is, when you are ready to make the ask, so you’ve put in some time, you’ve got some goodwill going, know what you want it be very clear about what you’re asking for and be very clear about what you can offer in return.
And what it what it is, is I am either going to trade it. Can you hop up here, please? Come on. People want the dog cam, and then I can have you not in my lap while I’m trying to work.
That’d be great. So I can pay for something in one of two ways, I can either offer a good, tangible or intangible, in return. “Hey, if you put my book in your newsletter, I’ll put your book in my newsletter.” You know, that’s an ask that I could make if somebody at that point knows that knows my brand and knows that I’m going to be reliable about it and that sort of thing.
Or I can pay for it in what I’m going to call Goodwill Vibes, just totally a unit of currency. And so where are we going? Goodwill is not always a tangible thing, but goodwill can just be a community thing. You know, I have been in a local culture, whether that’s on Discord or on Facebook or on Twitter or in person or in a writing group or, you know, whatever the case may be. And, you know, we’ve we’ve developed enough of a relationship that it’s OK to lean on somebody there and just be like, hey, I could really use some help at this time.
Can you help me get some some extra tweets out, or I really, really need my preorders to go two more notches today, you know, whatever the case may be. And somebody asked me for that recently and, you know, hey, can you do this thing? It’s going to cost you some money, but it will help me out. And I you know, I’m happy to do it for you in the future. And I said yes, because this is a person who has, you know, been a fairly stable and supportive person and he’s willing to do it for me in the future.
So I’m happy to do it for him now. And the big thing is just consider from their point of view before you make the ask. Sometimes something looks perfectly reasonable from one side. But when you look at from the other side, you’re like, oh, actually this does look a little entitled.
So the classic example of that is, hey, could you just read my manuscript and tell me if I got this, the history right about this particular event?
OK, so “can you just read my manuscript” is a really big investment of time and energy. It’s perfectly fine if that’s something that is on my reading list anyway. But, you know, “can you just do this quick check for me on this,” that, you know, it’s not just a quick check, even though you might sound like that to you.
Yes, AuthorGoddess, thanks for stopping by, she says, “OMG, that’s a type of editing.” Yes. Yes, it is. OK, and and that could be anything from, you know, a sensitivity reading to authenticity, you know, accuracy in a history or you know, I’m very open about the fact that I’m happy to talk to people about the ethology and the animal behavior of their monsters. OK, you invented this creature. Let’s make sure it’s believable and actually scarier than what it will be if you follow some of the pop culture tropes rather than actual science.
And we can make it a really, really good monster. But I’m not just going to read your whole book and then work that out for you. Let’s have a conversation about it. We may spend 20 or 25 minutes rather than 12 hours. So a lot of it is just really, really look at things in both directions and to make sure that… “Well, I’d only want him to…” is a sentence that we hear a lot.
But then when you actually look at what that means, it’s actually going to be a much bigger than an “only.” OK, so. And ShyRedFox says, Yes. And asking for free. This goes back to you know, there are two ways to pay for things. If I, I have guys, I am going to totally throw down and brag.
I have the best group of edit exchange people. Sorry, all the rest of you. You don’t get them. They’re mine. Not as if they don’t know more people than just me.
But and I can call one of those people and say, hey, I really, really, really need this manuscript, you know, looked at this month. Can you do that for me? And these people will be willing to do that because they know they can turn around and hit me for that. OK, and we’re also very honest. You know, I I told somebody yesterday, I’m like, always ask. I promise I will be honest if I can’t.
OK, so always, always, always feel free to ask. That’s just fair. So OK. Yeah. And author Goddess’s pointing out I might ask for that for a specific scene, but I’m upfront about the word count. Absolutely. Be like, hey, I have a 700 word scene that takes place in this particular setting. Can you help me make sure that I got the toxic gases in the volcano correct. OK, like that’s specific.
And and again, being willing to compensate them in some form for their expertise. Not everybody is going to take that up in a tangible way, but it really helps to build the goodwill if you were if you were willing to do that rather than, hey, you know my brother’s cousin’s goldfish is former owner, how ’bout you do this for me for free?
Yeah, Bridger’s like ethology and behavior of monsters and angsty epic fantasy?Yeah, I’m just I’ve been at some conferences where I’m just like, yeah, if you if you’re developing a new species and you need it to be scary and you want to run it by me, let’s do this. I’m all for that.
OK, yes. Edit exchanges are clutch. They are awesome if you can, building that network of people and this goes back to goodwill and being reliable and being helpful and you just are building enough of relationship that when you need to ask you can because they don’t feel like they’re being taken advantage of.
OK, that’s the thing.
And then just just being polite about stuff, like goes back to civilized adult human. If I see somebody making an effort and making an honest effort, they’re trying really hard and they just need a little boost to get there when they ask for help. I am far more likely to go out of my way to help that person than if I see somebody who’s sitting back and just being like, I don’t understand how X works. Somebody should explain it to me.
The thing that I see all the time is, you know, just to make something up, trying not to throw any particular person under the bus, but what is the literary agent? And I’m like, well, you’re posting this online. So you clearly have access to the Internet.
Have you tried the top result on Google? And then if you have specific questions, then we will be happy to help you with those specific questions. But don’t don’t start expect us to be your starting point, because I have a job to do my actual life. Yes. You know, establishing relationships is key. That is pretty much this whole thing is about establishing relationships and respecting people’s time and expertise.
So, yes. OK. Sorry, I’m getting so excited and I’m just running off and leaving my notes in the dust. Sorry notes. But yeah, “I just want” is a very dangerous phrase. If you see that, actually stop and look at what is it that you want, and is it a “JUST.” Okay, so.`
Yeah, and then politeness really, really matters a lot. Like I said, the person who emailed me asking for free books and I was like, hey, I can’t do this, here’s why.
And I fully expected, like, I know where this has gone before. I fully expected to get some very rude stuff back. And what I got was, thank you for your help.
And I’m like, oh, my gosh, you’re so in! You so in at this point.
So, yeah, let me Google that for you is one of my very snarky, I don’t do it very often. Like once a year I indulge in the let me Google that for you. So Yeah.
OK. Oh high fives in the chat. So hey thanks author goddess.
I appreciate that as politeness feeding back. Awesome.
OK, so let me tell you some ways that I have successfully met people and I’m going to be vague on some of these because I, you know, I not everybody signed up for me to, you know, talk about them on the stream, but one that I am going to talk about, which I think she would be fine with, is Susan Spann, who has been on the stream before. I had her on last fall to talk about one of her new books and climbing in Japan, climbing mountains in Japan.
So I read one of Susan’s books and she writes murder mysteries in historic Japan with a shinobi, a ninja solving murders. Great. Recommend them. I read one of her books. I was like, Oh, I really like this.
I betcha she would be a cool person to know, OK? I did not drop everything and drive to her house, set up camp in her front yard.
That would be weird. “Don’t dox yourself or others.” Yes. And don’t don’t creep people out about things. What I did was, I first reviewed her book and then I talked about it on my blog and I talked specifically about what I liked. So yeah. So that is where I started. She commented on my blog because as she said, her Google Fu was strong. And so when I talked about her book on my blog, it came up and she’s like, hey, thanks for the review.
There we go. We were going to be at the same writers conference. So now I’m like, oh, contact has been made. Senpai noticed my blog. OK, when we get to the writer’s conference, I will say, hey, this is me. I really liked your book, then I will move on with my life and not be weird. OK, so we got to the conference. I said, hey, this is me. I liked your book.
I moved on down the hallway and I was not weird. Pretty sure I wasn’t weird. Might have been a little weird. Tried really hard not to be weird.
Yeah. So ShyRedFox is mentioning the Hiro Hattori books. That’s the series, totally worth picking up if you’re into that setting. So at the conference just a couple of times said hello, said polite things, you know, was not super weird. But then opportunity opened and this one is not necessarily the opportunity I would have asked for, but we at that point we’d had enough conversations that we had actually exchanged contact information. Again, not by following her around and being creepy, just by being friendly and open.
And so then and now it’s the final night of the conference. There’s going to be a banquet and a weird guy attaches himself to me. Guys, you know what I’m talking about, if you’ve experienced this.
And one of those, let me tell you about my book and my life story things. And so he’s talking about, you know, his book is True Crime, and it’s about the parents killing their child. And in real life, you know, the situation, they were atheists, but he’s changing them to Christians in the book because that way people can understand how bad Christians are. And I’m like, wow, you’re selling me on all kinds of things.
And like you’re you’re really creeping me out.
You’re just telling me that you’re literally going to lie about people to further your agenda, about this particular demographic, which happens to be mine. But that’s cool. And just all of this, and he’s like, so we’re going to sit at the banquet.
And I’m like, oh actually we’re not. At that point, as I said, Susan and I had exchanged contact information and I’m just like, hey there.
So I wouldn’t normally ask this, but is there a spot open at your table? Because I really need a place to sit now.
And and she said, yeah, there’s one spot. Oh, come on over. And that was that was the we got to talk more at that particular banquet event. And and now, you know, I’ve traveled to Japan to to stay with her and to hike on some mountains and she’s been on the stream and know great, great relationship, but it started slow and polite, is where I was trying to go with this. And not just, not, what I’m trying to say.
I didn’t go to the conference with “and I’m going to leave with Susan’s phone number,” OK? That would have been weird. And I didn’t go to the conference with “and I’m going to get Susan to endorse my books.” OK, that also would have been weird. I went to the conference with, “I want to make sure she understands that I respect her work and really like it. And if we have a conversation beyond that, great.” OK, now Bridger is like, “picking your audience, critical fail.”
So where I’m going with that is: if you lay the groundwork, a lot of times opportunities will open up and, you know, if I had not been a polite, civilized human being before that night, probably that opportunity, I wouldn’t have been, I would not have felt comfortable — and I would not have had the contact info to say, hey, can I sit at your table? OK, but now we’ve had years of, you know, good relationship because of that so. Poor Susan.
I didn’t tell her I was going to tell a story of how we met, but that’s how we met. So that’s it.
But. In the. Ultimately, you know, Susan has endorsed my book. Ultimately, I have had her on the stream. We’ve done things for each other, but we didn’t start either of us with those goals in mind.
So what I would say, though, is be… You know how you can smell when somebody is being nice to try to get something out of you?
They’re not really being nice, they’re just kind of buttering you up as minimally as possible until they can get what they want? Just like you can smell that, other people can smell that.
So if you go into a networking relationship with, what can I get out of this, it’s not going to end well, OK, because you’re going to scare people off. Go into a networking relationship with, what can I offer? What relationships can I build? Ultimately, there will be an ask and that’s fine. But you get there. Bridger says, “I call that casting charisma.” Yeah. Yeah. So, yeah. And that’s not going to.
Not not. The example I see, and again, if you go back to — and I’ve got a whole thing we’ll do a different time on, you know, when you are at a convention or an author alley or a library book fair or whatever — but you’ve got tables and you’ve got the people on either side who are just so desperate to sell a book.
And they’re like, “I like your shirt. Your shirt is great. Do you want to buy my book?” Like, you don’t like his shirt? You’re just weird. Stop it. And you’re scaring people away at that point. So. OK, here’s the here’s the other thing that I want to emphasize. And again, I go back to I am a relatively small fish in this publishing ocean, but to some people I look like a bigger fish and to other people I look like a really tiny fish.
OK, we’re all, and I don’t want to make this sound like a hierarchy because I don’t really like thinking of it as a hierarchy. But we’re all traveling forward or backward or up or down or something along career paths and we’re not all heading to the same place. Not all of us have the same goals or the same definitions of success. So it’s one of the reasons why hierarchy is kind of a weird way to think of it.
But it is true that some people have larger platforms than others.
Some people are more known or have an easier time selling a particular thing or whatever the case may be at any given point, wherever you are.
You will want to approach somebody else and somebody else will want to approach you and you are going to think I’m moving, I’m reaching for somebody higher and somebody else is thinking, I’m reaching up when they’re reaching for you.
OK, so and if that metaphor doesn’t work for you, massage it until you get one that does, again, I don’t like hierarchy language there, but but I’m using it for simplicity. So I want to end with two examples of authors that I had interactions with and the incredibly different vibes they left for me. So the first one was an author, I loved her work. I read all of her books. They were great.
I had a fantastic time reading them and she and I were going to be in the same place at the same time at a conference. And I was like, oh, great, I’m going to tell her how much I like her books. That’s my complete goal. I love your books, gonna be my complete goal. So it’s the first day of the conference. You know, people are moving around, people are setting stuff up, day is winding down.
And I’m in the hallway and I see this person coming toward me and I just step forward and I’ve got my stupid fangirl face on like, you know, when you can feel, I have fangirl face. And I’m like, “Hey, I just wanted to tell you–“
And she says, “not now. I am on my way to the bar.”
Pretty much shoves me physically aside and barrels on.
And I was like. OK, I had one whole sentence I wanted to get out, my stupid fangirl face was on. And I just was like, I felt honestly it was almost like a physical slap because it was that level of dismissal. There was nothing about it that was, oh, you know, thank you. I’m really busy right now. Like, maybe we can chat later anything. It was really, really cold.
It’s probably not really surprising that that person is no longer writing and selling and kind of went down in flames, actually.
But that happened a few years later. But I was just standing there and I remember just standing in the hallway like, what did I do? You know, what did I do wrong? What could I have done differently? The answer is I couldn’t have done anything differently. Right. That had nothing to do with me.
And so yes. “Two decades ago and still not over it.” (from the chat)
Here’s the thing, though. I stopped reading those books. Not because I was angry and it was a “oh, my gosh, I can’t believe this person treated me this way. I’m never going to read her books again. And that’ll show her.” Because honestly, that wouldn’t show her.
It was when I picked them up, I felt that that incredible shade throwing again and I just couldn’t get excited about picking up the next one.
Yeah. ShyRedFox is pointing out we definitely remember the negatives more than positives. It’s not a great thing, but it’s the way we’re culturally conditioned to, you know, both both biologically and culturally conditioned to process things. And I really was stung by that. I was just trying to say something happy and it was done. So, yeah, it’s just gone. Contrast that with another experience I had. OK, so Kate’s going to tell a good story here.
She did the same thing to Michael Sullivan, at Gen Con. We chatted for an hour. Yeah. See, like probably left with a much better experience, some much better feeling. So I’m going to I’m going to tell a story about Brandon Sanderson, who has no reason to know who I am at all. None whatsoever. But we were at the same conference. He was the guest of honor. I was not. And we were at the same conference.
And he was hosting or he was hosting, organizing, participating in, I don’t know who was actually in charge. But there was a Magic the Gathering tournament that night at the conference that Brandon was going to play in. So I’m a tabletop RPG girl, I don’t play collectible trading card games, but I’m totally happy to go learn a new thing and Brandon Sanderson was going to be there and like there’s a bunch of authors going to be there.
So it’ll be fun, right? That’s where I that’s where I am. So I go to this Magic, the Gathering tournament where we could buy in and get cards and stuff.
And it’s time to start with, like, I want you to imagine every stereotype and it was there. So there’s some guys there who are absolutely like the worst stereotype of, I feel insecure so I’m going to shout at everybody about how much I know about all of this. And I don’t, I don’t know the game. So I’m trying really hard to learn things as I’m going. And I’m asking questions and listening and then I’m asking questions where I need clarification and I get cards and I pull one out and I’m like, oh, man, what’s this Planeswalker card? I don’t, this doesn’t look familiar compared to the things that I’ve read up on and tried to learn.
And the guy next to me is like, oh, planeswalker.
He’s like, that’s really complicated. Tell you what, I’ll trade you for this card over here and then you give me that one and then this one will be one that you know how to use. And I’ll just take that one. Since it’s much more complicated, it’ll be easier for you.
Yeah. Guess what, that was a sixty five dollar card that he just took because he wanted it and he knew I didn’t know enough. Here’s the thing. If he had asked me, “hey, that’s a really valuable card. If you don’t play regularly, can I have it?” I would have given it to him. But because he’s like, “No I’m gonna trick the new girl,” I have a totally different opinion.
So I’m sitting there. Oh, no, Rhonda knows the con, but it’s OK, it has a good ending.
I totally forgot you. This was your neck of the woods. Anyway. So I’m sitting here and I’m like, all this stuff is going down and I’m just like, oh gosh, why do why are there all these jokes about women feeling excluded and like terrible gamer stereotypes and all of that? It’s just like, it’s going on, but I’m trying really hard because I do like gaming.
I’m going to give this a fair shot. And Brandon is going around.
Brandon Sanderson is going around. He’s making sure to play with everybody in the room, like he is making a conscientious effort. He has played with every person in the room. But now we’re wrapping up. It’s like one, one thirty in the morning, something ridiculous. And everybody’s leaving. And he’s played with everybody except me. And he’s like, do you want to play? And I’m like, hey, you know, it’s late. You’re the guest of honor.
You’ve got stuff to do. I you know, I have stuff to do in the morning as well. You don’t have to stay late. He’s like, no, like if you want to play, let’s play. It’s like, yeah, yeah. Actually I would. And we played a game and he murderated me. I think in the entire game, I beat him one round, and when that one round happened he posed with for a photo of me slamming the card down and him sad and everything.
And then he totally wiped me off the rest of the game and it was over very quickly.
But here’s the thing. He made me feel like I was worth his time. He made me feel, you know, he took the time for that photo. He made, you know, made the photo funny, like, so I could show it to people. And it was humorous. I don’t freaking care what he writes. I mean, The Way of Kings is pretty good and all that.
But I don’t care. I’m a Brandon Sanderson fan now because he took the time to make me feel like an actual human that was worth his time.
OK, so that is that is where I’m going is, you know, every single time I go to an event, I literally think about those two.
Oh, hello, Labrador. There is too much Labrador. I think you can you hop up here. Thank you. All right.
Every single time I go to an event, I think about both of those experiences and I try really hard to send people away with one feeling and not the other. Sorry, I’m not as cool as Brandon Sanderson. Never going to be that cool. It’s not going to happen. But I can still try to make sure that, you know, you feel like I didn’t brush you off. OK, that’s that’s what I’m after.
So I guess the sum up is go out and respect people.
There we go. So. So, yeah.
So, hey, I am so glad that the chat has been active tonight and, you know, throwing jokes and trading links and all of the things, if anybody has stuff to contribute to or to ask at this time that did not get to come up yet. Please, please take time to do that at this moment. So excuse me, I’m going to grab a drink because I think there’s actually a bit of lag going on.
So I’m going to give the chat a moment to catch up with me. So that is, hopefully that leaves you with some practical applications for networking as well, as opposed to just going and I don’t want to just be like, here’s a list of things not to do. ‘Cuz first of all, it’s kind of negative. And secondly, it’s not actually helpful. Like I know a hundred ways not to get to somewhere. I need to know the directions to how to get there.
So, you know, I just again, the big thing is just go out, respect people, respect their time. And, you know, if you build relationships, you can get the ask when you need it. But if you go into the relationship with “I’m just going to be nice until I get what I want,” it’s not really a great relationship. It’s not going to pay off.
Oh, ShyRedFox hurried to eat to catch as much as she could. That’s ok. I’ve got replays. I’m sorry, don’t choke.
Yeah but but thanks. I appreciate it. And thanks for the subscription again tonight. I appreciate that. So yay! Bridger says her first big asks were a couple of weeks ago, and this makes her retroactively less scared. Yeah. And and I’m going to say, and I think I alluded to this before, but. Like big asks feel scary, like that’s that’s legit and honestly, that a little bit of that is a good thing because it means you really get your act together before you go and ask people for stuff.
I try to be as honest as possible. You know, if somebody asks me for something and I can’t do it, you know, I had multiple books that I was supposed to be reading and blurbing in February, somebody sent me an ARC that I haven’t even opened yet.
OK, so if somebody if somebody were to ask me tomorrow, hey, Laura, can you do this edit or blurb this book or whatever the case may be, I’m going to say no, but it’s not because I don’t like that person.
It’s because, you know, I can’t right now. So understand that no doesn’t always mean it’s about you sometimes. No means Laura was bad at planning and March is looking pretty hot right now, OK.
There’s any number of reasons that it could that it could be no. So me personally, I try to be pretty honest about, hey, this is my stack right now. I may not be super detailed about what it is, but I will tell you there is a stack and just, you know, but ask me again in the future, if somebody says ask again in the future, that’s not standard rejection language. OK, that’s the exact same thing as if you get a rejection from a an editor who says, you know, not this story, but send me your next piece, OK?
That is an editor who wants to see more.
OK, that we talked about that when we talked about rejection. But if you, you know, don’t get your first no and be like, “I guess this is it. It’s never it’s meant never to happen” because that’s not necessarily the right way to take that.
So, OK. Oh, and Bridger is going to sub too, thank you so much. OK, yeah. So Rhonda’s pointing out, c’est moi, that one thing I frequently tell people is the worst thing that happens is they will say no. Right. And if you don’t ask them, it’s essentially the same. No. So you’re not, you’re guaranteeing the no by not asking and you’re giving yourself a chance if you do ask. So yeah. And as Rhonda points out, if you’re not a jerk, I’m sure not going to hold that ask against you.
Right. Like that is, that’s a completely, just be polite and you’ll be amazed — there’s enough not polite going on guys. You will stand out so much just by being polite.
Really. Honestly so. OK, all right. Yeah. So that’s it.
That’s what I’ve got tonight. We’ll probably go raid Alena. Oh my gosh. It’s like closing on eight thirty. I’m sorry. I just got excited. I effervesced too hard. So we’re going to go see that. And then if anybody, I have absolutely no idea what next week’s topic is. None. I think it’s procrastination. It might be.
We should check. I think it’s, I think it’s procrastination. I’ll look on that. That would be hilarious if I forgot to check the procrastination topic, but that is it.
And then. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Booth barnacles. I like booth barnacles, That’s our raid call for tonight, let’s yell Booth barnacles. Guys, thanks, it is Tuesday night. This is To Write And Have Written. I’m Laura VanArendonk Baugh. Go be polite and respect people and we’re going to yell booth barnacles when we arrive because that’s the most respectful way to do it.