Sure, we all know the saying, writing is a solitary act, but the success of that writing, the success of the writer is connected to the community the writer belongs to.
And what community is this? Well, there are many communities, to include (My category titles are fairly loose; I apologize in advance for that.):
The "familial" community, those in our family (and I would add close friends) who support our zany idea of becoming an author, who listen to our doubts and help to push them away, who put the pot of coffee on in the late-night hours, who clean the house and make dinner when we find ourselves in a writing groove.
The "stealth critique group" community, that small group of people you trust to send material to for critiquing during the writing process and the editing process. Every writer should have a handful of voracious readers who are willing to share their unbiased opinion of his/her work. My group has been developed over the years with about five great friends who love to read, who read often, and who are great are giving strong opinions of what works and what doesn't work in my writing. Although I tend to wait until a project is complete before I ask my band of reading misfits to critique my work, there are moments when I get stumped in my writing and need to brainstorm aloud to trusted people for advice. This is that group.
The "writer" community, that group of people who know of your struggles, for they, too, have the same struggles. Personally, I don't know what I would do in my writing endeavor if I did not have other writers to talk to. My family loves and support me. So, too, my critique group community. But there is something about this group that sustains me in a different way. My family would probably, after a while, try to slink off if I talked about writing nonstop; however, with my writer friends, we can talk for hours on end about the writing craft, our own writing, writing we love, etc. This type of connection helps me to remember all the wonder, awe, and awesomeness that abounds in choosing to become a writer.
The "publishing" community, that group of people that work to get your writing to its strongest point--and then work to sell that writing. Here, I'm thinking the agent, publisher, and even people such as a publicist. Agents are our literary wares' advocates, and picking one that works well for you and your work is an important task.So, too, with a publisher. Now, this might sound funny because they pick us, right? We submit work to them in the hopes that they will say YES and bless us with representation or publication. And this is true; however, we must be diligent in our research in contacting agents who work in our genre(s), who have sold others' work, who keep lines of communication open, who actively push to get our books through the Publishdom's great doors. And we should be as diligent in our pursuit of publication. We shouldn't jump at the very first chance of publication just for the sake of being published. Our publishing home should mesh with what we hope to do in our literary careers--at least in the initial stages of those careers. With publicists, because we are choosing them, we need to research the companies, the work they do, the clients they've had, the "success" they've had, their personalities so that we can make sure our author persona and our literary wares are in good hands.
The "audience" community, that group of people who actually BUY our work. It's important for us to develop our author identity (what we've come to call "platform") so that our audience gets to know us, our books, and see the worth of our books in order to buy them. There are plenty of books and Websites on the subject of developing an author platform, using social media to develop that platform, and cultivating your audience; it's important to be mindful of all of these aspects. Although we can argue all day about whether a book is good or not, the success of a book is connected with how well it sells. If the author (and those working in the "publishing" community) are not effectively connecting with the audience, success will be hard to come by.
As a writer, what communities do you see as important to your success? Are they the same as the communities above? Are there others not mentioned? Share your thoughts!
Shon Bacon is an author, doctoral candidate, editor, and educator. She has published both creatively and academically. Shon also interviews women writers on her popular blog ChickLitGurrl: high on LATTES & WRITING. Her second mystery, Into the Web, was released April 2012, and, recently, she's been published in the short story collection, The Corner Cafe. You can learn more about Shon's writings at her website, and you can get information about her editorial services at CLG Entertainment. Currently, Shon is busy pursuing her Ph.D. in Technical Communication and Rhetoric at Texas Tech University ... and trying to find the time to WRITE.