Ep. 04: Finding Your Author Community

Join us as we discuss how and where to find your author community.

Writing can be a solitary process, but publishing isn’t! There are so many opportunities for authors to connect with and support one another, share what’s worked or hasn’t worked, and receive advice from industry experts. We’ll discuss a few places you can find author support: writing communities, booksellers and librarians, conferences, associations, social media, and IngramSpark’s own Community. For more publishing support, check out the IngramSpark Academy of free online publishing courses.


Robin Cutler [00:00:06] Hi, everyone. Welcome to Go Publish Yourself, an IngramSpark podcast. This episode is sponsored by the Creative Penn Podcast, named as one of the top podcasts for writers by Writer's Digest, offering information and inspiration on writing, self-publishing, book marketing, and how to make a living with your writing. Hi, I'm Robin Cutler, Director of IngramSpark.

Justine Blyo [00:00:30] I'm Justine Bylo, the Author Acquisitions Manager for IngramSpark. Hi, Robin.

Robin Cutler [00:00:36] Hey, Justine! A big shout out to my friend Joanna Penn, who is the sponsor of this podcast. I love Joanna. I love the work that she does with writers. If you're a Joanna Penn fan, so am I.

Justine Blyo [00:00:53] Yes, we love Joanna here at IngramSpark.

Robin Cutler [00:00:58] Today, we are welcoming Deon McAdoo who works with our support team here at IngramSpark. We're going to talk about how writers find their community, and how I believe that you need a tribe as a writer. Don't you, Justine?

Justine Blyo [00:01:18] Absolutely. As a writer, it can be so solitary, and you need to find your people. It's so important.

Robin Cutler [00:01:26] Deon, I know that we recently launched our version of community, our own IngramSpark community, just a few months ago. Do you want to tell us a little bit about that?

Deon McAdoo [00:01:38] Yes. The first thing I want to say is the way you can find our community is by going to help.ingramspark.com. That's where you can find the link for our community that we have, where we have about a list of six topics. Each topic is kind of generated for your specific activity that you're doing with your book. One of the biggest attractions that we're trying to push forward is our publishing topic. Trying to get our authors and publishers more engaged to have them kind of spill their ideas about the books that they wish to publish with IngramSpark.

Robin Cutler [00:02:10] What's great about the community, because I go in there every now and then and just kind of troll a little bit--

Justine Blyo [00:02:15] Oh.

Robin Cutler [00:02:17] I love it because this is the opportunity for you guys to talk to each other and to ask each other questions, and actually answer questions for each other. Isn't that right?

Deon McAdoo [00:02:28] Yes, correct. It's a way for not just us as the support staff to help out, but you can actually get other authors and publishers to kind of assist with your publishing, as well. One of the big things that we see, we have about five comment authors who generally go through and help the new people that come in who are fairly new to the community. You might see somebody say, "Hey, my name is this. I'd like to help you…I've been here a few months now. I kind of found my way around here well enough, so I want to try to help you out, as well." You can see that activity in there, too, once you get on the community, as well.

Justine Blyo [00:03:06] Yeah, so they're super supportive of each other.

Deon McAdoo [00:03:08] Yes, very supportive. Everybody wants to see everybody do well.

Robin Cutler [00:03:12] Yeah. That's what I love about authors. They're not competitive like you see at some other creative pursuits. Authors tend to want to help each other.

Deon McAdoo [00:03:24] Yeah, and it makes it very engaging, too, for them. Especially when I go and view the activity, it's nice to see everybody interacting. It's almost like they're becoming best friends over this community.

Justine Blyo [00:03:36] Oh. I love that.

Robin Cutler [00:03:38] They're actually generally getting it right, aren't they Deon, with the advice that they're giving?

Deon McAdoo [00:03:43] Exactly. A lot of the people have a lot of experience. Either they've been authors from the very beginning, or they've got enough experience on our support staff, so they can kind of answer the questions that kind of best suit everybody else within the community. Well, that's just great, and I love that you guys launched this, and that you're there to help, as well. Besides our own community, Justine, what do you recommend as far as authors finding their own group? I know for different genres there's a lot of different writing groups.

Justine Blyo [00:04:20] Yeah, writing groups are a great place to start in your community. Those can be just small groups of people who get together and read and review work, and they can help you really improve your work and get better at your craft. You can find those groups by going to your local bookstore and asking your booksellers or your local library and asking your librarians, or even just going online and Googling. I live in New York, so there's a ton of them for every single genre and they're really, really great. These groups are places where you can really foster your work, and you don't have to pay anything. There are just, you find your people. It's really great.

Robin Cutler [00:05:12] Yeah, I live in New Mexico. One of the major groups in the southwest are the Southwest Writers.

Justine Blyo [00:05:21] Oh yeah.

Robin Cutler [00:05:22] I've spoken to that group a number of times and recently, I was invited. There are even subsets of the bigger writing group that are genre-specific. There's one now on science fiction. There's some on romance.

Justine Blyo [00:05:40] Yeah, like RWA, which is Romance Writers of America, has smaller chapters all over the country, and you can join those chapters and have a group within your community. Those groups are very active.

Robin Cutler [00:05:55] Then broader than that, there's a number of associations that I always recommend for people kind of just getting started, especially as a new indie author, or even as a new publisher. I like Independent Book Publisher Association that's here based in the US. And then I also love ALLi, the Alliance of Independent Authors, which was founded by my good friend Orna Ross who lives in London. I love ALLi. I think ALLi is especially focused on authors. I know you hear, and we get a lot of ALLi kind of authors coming across the transom, don't we Deon?

Deon McAdoo [00:06:41] Yes, all the time. All the time.

Robin Cutler [00:06:44] Yeah, and they're from people all over the world, although, even in the US, the ALLi membership is growing now.

Deon McAdoo [00:06:50] Yes, definitely.

Robin Cutler [00:06:52] It's ALLi, the Alliance of Independent Authors. Check them out. What else? What other good ones?

Justine Blyo [00:06:59] Oh, conferences. Conferences are huge. We go to a ton a year. I probably go to, what? 15? You go to a ton. The thing I love about going to conferences is seeing the authors reconnect after a year, and it's old home week, for all of them. It's like you haven't seen your best friend in a year except through Skype. It's the most magical thing. You work on your craft, because you can take craft sessions. You can work on the whole business element of writing. They really offer really great programming at a lot of these conferences. If you want to invest the money in a conference, they can not be cheap sometimes, it's really, they're really wonderful.

Robin Cutler [00:07:54] I think some of the best are Writer's Digest offers--

Justine Blyo [00:07:57] Oh, Writer's Digest is great.

Robin Cutler [00:07:59] Yes. And offer several different ones in different parts of the country.

Justine Blyo [00:08:04] Yeah, they do New York, which is their big one. And then they're doing a novelist one in Pasadena, and then another smaller one in Ohio, I believe.

Robin Cutler [00:08:17] Yeah, that's right.

Justine Blyo [00:08:18] They're all over the place.

Robin Cutler [00:08:19] Then we have like the Writer's Association of San Francisco, and then we've got the big book fairs. Let's talk a little bit about that because probably most of our listeners haven't ever been to a BookExpo America, or to a London Book Fair.

Justine Blyo [00:08:38] Yeah, those are huge. BookExpo America is the big one in the US, otherwise known as BEA, for a very long time, and then they shortened it to BookExpo. But that's the big one, and it is a sight to be seen. But then, they also put a reader’s section on it called BookCon, which is also a really fascinating thing to go to.

Robin Cutler [00:09:03] Describe BookCon because if you haven't been there--

Justine Blyo [00:09:06] Oh, I don't even know how to! Okay, imagine the Javits Center, and lots of teenage girls, and lots of lines, and lots of books, and so much excitement.

Robin Cutler [00:09:19] Very excited.

Justine Blyo [00:09:20] So much excitement. People are just so excited to be there.

Robin Cutler [00:09:24] It's great to go to these reader conferences, and you see this, especially in romance, too. You'll see fan-based events. When the readers and the writers come together for something like that, and the readers are so excited to meet their authors--

Justine Blyo [00:09:41] Yes, it's the coolest thing.

Robin Cutler [00:09:43] Yeah, so the authors at these events are rock stars.

Justine Blyo [00:09:47] Totally.

Robin Cutler [00:09:48] And you see people all the time. You'll meet really famous authors, just kind of milling about.

Justine Blyo [00:09:55] Yeah, like Sherrilyn Kenyon on the Author Spotlights told us about how the Navy Seals had to extract her from her booth at Comic-Con. Yeah, people get really excited.

Robin Cutler [00:10:08] Yeah, so that's a good point. I'm glad you mentioned Comic-Con because some of these big book events, Deon, are kind of at that level, right? What's so exciting to be in the publishing world, is to actually see authors kind of celebrated, and people treating them like the celebrities like they are. We always love seeing that. What else do we want to talk about as far as author community?

Justine Blyo [00:10:38] I would say social media. Find your people on social media. Places like Wattpad, where you can interact with your readers are really important.

Robin Cutler [00:10:47] I love Wattpad, because you actually can serialize your book. You can put it up as you write and get immediate feedback and start building your readership through that tool. I think it is one of the best things that has really come forward in publishing.

Justine Blyo [00:11:08] Totally, and it's a global platform, so you'll find readers across the world, which is really fascinating.

Robin Cutler [00:11:16] Okay, anything else we want to mention while we're at it here with the importance of authors finding their tribe?

Deon McAdoo [00:11:23] Yeah, the only thing I would say is with the social media thing, it's not just for your own personal life. You can actually use it for your own marketing and promotion, as well. I've seen a lot of publishers and authors have a lot of big traction once they step out from using it for their own good and start pushing forward with their books with it. They get a lot of customer interactions with that, which is great to see on the customer service side, because we love to see those type of interactions, as well.

Justine Blyo [00:11:48] Absolutely.

Robin Cutler [00:11:49] It's not just Twitter, Facebook. I think as an author, you should have a YouTube channel.

Deon McAdoo [00:11:56] Oh, yes.

Robin Cutler [00:11:57] You should be videotaping, especially yourself talking about your motivation in writing and publishing your book. That people want to read and see that, right? Directly from you. And Instagram, one of our biggest authors and the biggest success stories we've had in IngramSpark has been through their work on social media through Instagram.

Justine Blyo [00:12:19] Instapoets.

Robin Cutler [00:12:21] Yeah, so we're really proud of them. Well, thank you both for being with me today. Thanks so much to our listeners for tuning in to Go Publish Yourself. We hope these episodes inspire you on your own publishing journey. If you're ready to publish today, please visit the IngramSpark website. For more tips on publishing like a pro, subscribe to our podcast and weekly blog, or check out our free online self-publishing course available in the IngramSpark Academy. Talk to you soon.

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