1. Look locally. Are there published authors in your community? Go to their book signings, even if you don’t know them personally or they write in a different genre than you do. Authors have nightmares about doing readings where no one shows up (just see this Onion article). They will always be happy to see interested faces in the audience. And, if the reading ends up being small, as many of them are, you may even get a chance to ask questions or chat with the author for a few minutes.
2. Get social. Very few authors can get away with not having an online presence these days (ahem, Jonathan Franzen). And, to be honest, the process of writing is solitary. It’s fraught with long periods of waiting, when you just need to “talk” to someone who gets it. Facebook, twitter, and writing-related blogs are great for connecting with others going through the same confusing process you are.
3. Support other authors. Did you read a book you loved? Tell a friend. Buy it as a gift for someone. Tweet about it. Write an Amazon review. I know that authors writing reviews has become a hotly debated topic, but the truth is that Amazon reviews matter for moving books up in terms of visibility. If you love it, share the love and spread the word.
4. Put yourself out there. It’s ok to be shy. It’s ok to be nervous about sharing your work with a critique partner, beta reader, or writing group, whether it be in person or online. But getting feedback is a very necessary step in the path to publication. I’m always floored when people say they are too nervous to share their work with a writing group, but want to be published. How can you share your work with the world at large if you can’t open yourself first to the feedback of a few trusted readers?
5. Pay it forward. A few weeks ago, all of the debs blogged about the people who supported us on our writing journeys. Many of us named other authors who helped us in revising, querying, or just general moral support. Paying that sort of help forward to other writers who are just starting out keeps that wheel turning.
Where do you turn for your sense of community?