I enjoy watching interviews with actors on The Actor’s Studio, TCM, and other shows. The actors usually make two points. One is the importance of every member of the creative team. The actors may get most of the attention and the kudos, but they must depend on the director and all of the other people who make up the production crew.
The second is the importance of encouragement and support. As one actor said, “The director knows that if he wants the best out of the actors, he has to encourage, praise, and provide a safe environment for creativity. Threats, bullying, anger, sarcasm and putdowns will only shrivel and thwart an actor’s efforts. Most of us have had managers, bosses—and parents, too—who didn’t understood this, and we all suffered for it.
These two points apply to writers too. The popular image of a creative genius pounding out a best-selling classic alone in his garret is fish poop. Writers also need their creative team to produce a polished, error-free, literate book. That team includes readers, critiquers, agents, editors, designers, publisher, and marketing and promotional professionals.
Connections are important too. Connecting to other writers through writers’ associations helps develop the professional knowledge and network to advance in this highly competitive field. Association members set up critique groups as a step toward saleable work, organize meetings and conferences to share expertise, bring in agents and editors to look at our work, and offer their own experience to help the rest of us.
Publishers associations are useful too, especially if you plan to self-publish. What is required to publish a saleable book? What is an ISBN? LCCN? CIP? How do you get them? How do you get into bookstores? Libraries? How do you get reviews? Why do you need them? What kind of cover would sell best? What about subsidiary rights? Foreign rights?
Publishing has a steep learning curve. Many states or regions have state publishers associations affiliated with a national group such as the Independent Book Publishers Association (www.ibpa-online.com). Their websites are full of useful resources. They offer networking and information exchange, cooperative marketing opportunities, and low-cost access to national and international book shows, such as the Frankfurt Book Show and Book Expo.
You can’t afford to ignore these connections.