Romance Writer’s Road Map: Part One

So, you want to write a romance novel? Or perhaps you have a work in progress. Maybe you’ve completed a manuscript. Or several. Congratulations! You’ve embarked on an incredible journey, one that can be both fun and potentially frustrating.

When I began writing two and a half years ago, I didn’t know any other writers and was clueless about what went into writing a marketable story. I made many mistakes. In an effort to speed you on your way toward publication, I’m passing along information I wish I’d had when I started. I’m calling this the Romance Writer’s Road Map.

One thing that slowed my progress was the fact that I was writing in isolation. I craved contact with other writers, but I didn’t know how to find them. Today I’m going to list six steps to help you make those all important connections. In Part Two, I’ll talk about how to get feedback on your work.

1) Join Romance Writers of America®. This organization is for both published romance authors as well as those of us who are as-yet unpublished romance writers. With over 10,000 members, you’ll be in good company and will have access to many excellent resources, including the monthly magazine, the Romance Writers Report. The cost to join as a general (U.S.) member at this writing is $100, which includes a one-time $25 processing fee. This is money well spent.

2) Join one or more of the over 130 local and special-interest chapters of RWA®. To locate a chapter, click on Chapters Listing in the national website sidebar. Once you’re a member of your local chapter, attend the monthly meetings if at all possible. You’ll meet wonderful women there who share your passion for romance writing and may well become some of your best friends. You must be a member of RWA to join a chapter. The fees are minimal.

3) Join a writers’ online chat group. Many local or online RWA chapters have one and will invite you to participate once you’re a member. If not, contact one of your chapter’s officers to find out if the chapter has a loop. Once you’re a loop member, you can start by just reading the messages. When you’re more comfortable, you can join the discussions. You’ll learn a great deal from reading the messages. Common topics are upcoming chapter events, agent/editor updates, contest announcements, and individual writers’ news items.

4) Visit blogs that focus on writing or writers. You’ll find a links page on this site. Many websites and blogs have them. Check out different blogs until you find those you like that fit your needs and interests. You can subscribe to those you want to read regularly. I use Google® Reader as a way to manage my blog subscriptions. That way my inbox isn’t flooded with blog feeds. I schedule time to read blog posts so that doing so doesn’t break up my day. When visiting a blog leave comments. You’ll interact with the blog owner, guests and other readers. This is a way to cultivate professional relationships. You will find that you connect with some people and go on to form friendships that you continue privately.

5) Consider joining a social network such as Facebook or MySpace. Many writers are members of one or both and will “friend” other writers. If you want to learn more about Facebook, I have a post on my other blog, On the Path to Publication, where you can read about my positive experience.

6) A wonderful way to connect with other romance writers is to attend the RWA National Conference held each summer in a different city. The 2009 conference will be in Washington, D.C. If the expense of attending Nationals is more than your budget can bear, there are conferences and workshops put on by RWA chapters throughout the country. Other writing conferences can be beneficial, too, if they have fiction writing instruction.

These are just some ways that will help you become part of the larger writing community, but there are others. What are ways you’ve found that helped you connect with other romance writers with whom you’re sharing your journey to publication?

Drawing!

All those who leave a comment between now and Saturday, September 20, at 8 p.m. Pacific time will be entered in a drawing for a set of eight note cards depicting that special substance that jump starts many a writer’s day: coffee.

Congratulations to Jessie, winner of the drawing.

If you don’t see a comment form below, please use the link by the post title.

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About Keli Gwyn

I'm an award-winning author of inspirational historical romance smitten with the Victorian Era. I'm currently writing for Harlequin's Love Inspired Historical line of wholesome, faith-filled romances. My debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, was released July 1, 2012. I'm represented by Rachelle Gardner of Book & Such Literary. I live in a Gold Rush-era town at the foot of the majestic Sierras. My favorite places to visit are my fictional worlds, other Gold Country towns and historical museums. When I'm not writing I enjoy taking walks, working out at Curves™ and reading.
This entry was posted in Facebook, Google Reader, MySpace, Romance Writers of America, RWA Nationals, writers conference, writing, writing contests. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Romance Writer’s Road Map: Part One

  1. Susan Mason says:

    Hi Keli,

    Thanks for the good advice.
    I took some of your advice and opened a Facebook account. Hope I can get the hang of it quickly. Any words of wisdom for the beginner?

    Do you like Facebook better than MY SPACE?

    Sue

  2. Keli Gwyn says:

    Sue,

    Glad you found some of the information in this post helpful.

    I prefer Facebook. I think it’s easier to set up an account there than it is on MySpace. And I have to admit that I listened to my teen daughter who told me MySpace tends to attract younger users. If I were writing for the Young Adult market, I would definitely have a MySpace page, but since I’m not, I went with Facebook. My thinking is that once I land a contract, I will revisit the issue and may set up a MySpace page at that time.

    As far as pointers on using Facebook, I’m planning a future blog post on the subject, which I’ll run on 9/25.

  3. Anne Barton says:

    Hi Keli –

    Nice post! I wish I’d had your list 2 1/2 years ago! Like you, I thought writing was a solitary endeavor, until I stumbled upon various writers’ blogs and loops. And I think I’ve just barely scratched the surface.

    Another route for connecting with writers is entering and judging contests. Judging helps support RWA chapters, and it can be educational too. And of course, there’s the way we met — by being fellow contest finalists. 🙂 I think lots of writers meet that way.

    Looking forward to Part 2!

    – Anne

  4. Keli Gwyn says:

    Anne,

    Thanks for dropping by and for the kind words.

    I wholeheartedly agree with your advice on contests as a way of connecting with others. I now have 63 wonderful Pixie pals as a result of the Golden Heart. I also have a contest judge from a chapter level contest, several Seekers from Seekerville and many others writers as my new friends–all thanks to entering contests.

  5. Jessie says:

    HI Keli,
    Awesome list and when I started writing around the same time, I was also in the same boat.
    I’ve been thinking about a facebook. Thanks for mentioning it.
    And now, I’m totally ready to try to win those cards!
    Love my coffee in the morning!

  6. Fedora says:

    Hi, Keli, Just wanted to say that I enjoyed your post, despite not being a writer 🙂 I think that it’s terrific you’re giving a hand-up to others starting out–because of the Internet, it seems much easier to begin connecting with others with similar interests. (Please don’t enter me ;))

  7. C.J. Redwine says:

    There are so many benefits to networking within the industry! Friendship, connections, buzz, feedback, support, and someone who also hears voices talking (Not to you! To each other!) in their head. 😉

  8. Keli Gwyn says:

    Thanks for dropping by, Jessie, Fedora and CJ. Good to see all of you here.

    I’m having some computer trouble, so I’m a day late on the drawing. Sorry about that.

    The winner of the java note cards is Jessie. Congrats!

Comments are closed.