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Publishing is known for being a pretty difficult industry to break into, especially if you have no background (academic or professional) in the business. Believe me, I’m someone with a heavy background in education who only pivoted toward the book space within the last few years.

The first question you need to ask yourself is who specifically do you want to meet and why? Other writers? Seasoned authors? Agents? Editors? There’s different places for different people.

Where Do I Meet Publishing Professionals?

There are a few different places where you can meet these folks—agents, editors, publishers, etcetera. I’ve listed some of the more common routes here.

Conferences/Retreats

This is by far the most popular option and your best chance of meeting industry professionals. I, myself, have probably only been to three or four events around the Chicago area (where I’m currently located) but have met a few figures, including my now-publisher, as well as new writer colleagues.

Here are some tips I have for if/when you join these events:

Online Workshops/Events

You can literally find these anywhere. I’ve attend numerous webinars and workshops hosted by Jane Friedman, StoryStudio Chicago, Writer’s Digest, and even Meetup! This is great for meeting folks and learning something new without breaking the bank or feeling emotionally depleted.

Upon attending, I would highly recommend you drop this message into the chat (only if you’d actually be willing to do it):

Hey! Is anyone in the ___ area and willing to meet up to connect and discuss [topic] even further? I’m collecting emails/IG handles to arrange something if anyone is interested!

Otherwise, you can always ask for others’ socials, websites, links, books courses, etc. OR meet individually with folks over Zoom.

Associations/Organizations

This is essentially a club or a group of like-minded individuals you pay for annually (i.e. a membership) that allows you access to all kinds of events, resources, perks, discounts, and networking opportunities. There are different associations for different purposes—memoirists, nonfiction/fiction authors, writers—so be sure to do your research. Here is a list of all the biggest associations/organizations in the US.

By joining, you’ll not only get to meet other writers and get community support for your own project(s), but you’ll also get access to local and/or regional events (sometimes even conferences) often at a discount where you’re bound to meet all kinds of people. Again, it depends on the kind of organization you join. Nonfiction authors will have a different priorities/focuses than librarians, for example.

LinkedIn Connections

LinkedIn not only has a free AI-based networking platform where you’re able to connect with a bunch of different people across a variety of industries, but also displays mutual alumna that attended your university.

What I’ve done more than once is look up a company I’m interested in working at someday on LinkedIn to see if any of my connections or mutual alumna work there. If so, I can see their credentials, how long they’ve been working there, and reach out with a message to connect in order to learn more about their professional journey/how they got involved in that industry.

But generally, after attending any kind of networking event where you met someone you liked, benefited from, or wish to remain connected with, definitely hit them up on LinkedIn AND reach out with a message to connect further with a link to your calendar or scheduling tool.

Once You’re In The Right Room…

…You’ll need to know what to do. Here are a few pieces of the puzzle that will help you to keep and maintain your new connections.

Know How to Introduce Yourself (to Anyone)

Here’s a basic formula:

Put it all together, and this is what you get…

“Hi, I’m [Your Name], a [descriptor] who is working on a [book genre] about [brief synopsis]. I’m ideally looking for [1-2 specific items] and can be contacted via my website, [domain name].”

Tell Them What You Want

This is an extension of the third bullet point just because it can be super awkward for creatives to ask for something. You need to be able to identify a sore spot or specific, unanswered question you have and know how to ask for it.

Follow-Up Always

This is probably the most important part: follow up on anything you discussed with them and/or requested. If you didn’t request anything, consider having a post-event conversation with them to learn more about who they are, what they do, and how you can support them. It not only demonstrates a level of professionalism, but also that you were listening and want to see them succeed.

Here are a few other quick tips:

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, these are people who want to have a good conversation. It’s good to keep talking points or a focus in the back of your mind, but don’t confuse that with having an agenda. Even if something doesn’t go the way you want, at least you can say you’re connected with another person.

Here are some final thoughts I have to share on what I’ve learned in my own experiences:


⭐ Let’s keep the conversation going! Email me at lauren@laurenericksonofficial.com 

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