I’ve been hearing a lot about BEA (Book Expo America) on the blogosphere recently, which is being held in New York. Firstly, can I just say how incredibly jealous I am of everybody who has the opportunity to go? It sounds like an amazing experience, and a great chance to network. But it also got me thinking about real social networking.
In these technological times, we’ve come to associate social networking with being on the internet and connecting with fellow internet goers. This includes Facebook, Twitter, even the blogosphere itself. I myself am a great lover of social networking, particularly for helping writers.
But we have to face the fact that social networking, sitting behind a computer screen, is far easier than social networking in reality.
Take BEA for example. There are going to be a lot of writers there, published and unpublished alike, along with editors, agents etc., people from all across the publishing business and then some. It is a fantastic opportunity to meet new people, to chat to those involved in publishing and even get a book or two signed.
However, writers aren’t typically the most social creatures. Although I would say that I am social, I certainly don’t have boundless confidence in social situations. I think in a place like BEA, a lot of writers would find themselves at a bit of a loss, especially if it was their first convention. It’s a lot easier to comment on somebody’s blog, or tweet them, or post on their Wall than go up to a stranger in public and start making conversation with them.
But ultimately, I think the latter is more rewarding. Obviously, there are going to be times when you try to connect with somebody and simply don’t. But for all those failed chances, there are likely to be some equally positive outcomes after the nerve-wracking approach to a complete stranger. We can make friends, share experiences, even speak to people we never even dreamed of speaking to.
I suppose this links somewhat to my previous post. It’s all about stepping out of your comfort zone and taking opportunities even if they scare you half to death. Conventions like BEA are the real social networking, and in a way, it’s the next stage of the process for writers looking to publish.
Say you do publish a book, and it becomes successful. Your publisher is going to want you to speak to people, to go on a book tour, maybe even go to conventions yourself. It’s marketing. So to achieve your dream, you might have to go out of your comfort zone anyway. Better to have some friends to support you whilst you do it than to be alone and stuck to your phone tweeting about it.
So ultimately, while I am one of the first people to triumph social networking, I think real social networking can be so much better in many ways. It forces you to go beyond your comfort zone, even prepares you for the future if you do become a successful writer. I’m not saying it’s easy. Only that in the end, I think it’s worth it if you do take the opportunity, like with BEA, and go up to that stranger. You never know who you might meet.
Are any of you going to BEA? If not, would you go to writer conventions like it in the future?