View this email in your browser

The Secret to Networking: the Four C's

When you hear networking, it sounds like business-speak, doesn’t it? All transactional, like a salesperson trying to expand their client list to sell another widget. But here’s the thing: it’s really another way of saying, no writer or artist can do it alone. As a creative person, if you want to improve your craft and become traditionally published, and not fall into despair along the way, the key is to find your community.
Because I like alliteration, here are my four C’s for networking and finding community: Curiosity, Compassion, Curation, and Connection.
Be sure to enter my giveaway of $100 for any class or conference of your choice (details below)!

1. Curiosity

It all starts with being curious and open to new ideas. Instead of approaching networking as a way to develop your brand or sell books, think of it as connecting with all the interesting people. One great thing about social media is finding people who share your interests. I have a private Twitter list called “always interesting” that includes mapmakers, ocean explorers, funny AI accounts, and esoteric historians. When you keep an outward focus, you can’t help but enrich yourself.  
The TV show Ted Lasso has a pivotal scene about this, but I won’t ruin it (HOT TIP: go watch Ted Lasso ASAP, it’s one of my top shows of 2020, hilarious & full of heart).

2. Compassion

It’s been a tough year. You never know what someone is going through, so a good rule is to be compassionate. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. This can be difficult when we face deep injustices and urgent issues (environment, politics, Covid-19, racism/sexism/etc), but the point is, you don’t have to engage with toxic people. Uplift and surround yourself with those who are making the world a better place; find the people who will support you and your creative efforts. 

3. Curation

The corollary to being curious and thinking of others is you’ll want to curate your social media. Keep the good stuff in and leave whines or vents in drafts. We’re all human, so HOT TIP: find at least one trusted friend with whom you can be as petty and snarky as you want, in private channels. 

4. Connection

While the above can help you network, how do you actually find your people? Here’s a rundown on some great writing & illustrating communities (mostly kid lit, some cost $ and others are free, and look at all the Cs!):


In addition to learning craft, classes let you connect with others at the same stage in your career. Some of my best CPs have come from classes. I highly recommend:
  • The Muse Writers Center – workshop-style classes for fiction, nonfiction & more, where I learned so much about novel-writing. A QUICK PLUG: I’m teaching an intermediate- and above-level Fiction Workshop starting in early February. I’d love to see some familiar names and faces. (Check it out)



Pre-pandemic, I loved connecting with writers through conferences. Most have moved online. A few favorites:
  • Big Sur Children's Writers Workshops. Andrea Brown Literary Agency, one of the premier agencies repping kid lit, holds conferences where agents and editors lead small critique workshops with aspiring authors. I met my wonderful agent, Jennifer March Soloway, in a Big Sur workshop.
  • Better Books Marin  - an excellent craft-based workshop for MG & YA novelists
  • SCBWI regional conferences (Mid-Atlantic, NESCBWI are great)
  • For more, check out Kidlit411's Conferences, Workshops & Retreats


The best way to improve your craft is to get honest feedback. Some places to find CPs:

A great way to connect with others is by entering contests or applying for mentorships and supporting fellow applicants. For example:
  • Pitch Wars – this past Fall, a group of middle grade applicants to Pitch Wars found each other & became friends (Malia Maunakea wrote about it at #mgwaves -Building Community). They meet online and share resources, critiques, and support. In the short time they’ve been together, they’ve celebrated 2 people getting into Pitch Wars, 1 getting another mentor, and 2 signing with agents). 
  • Author Mentor Match – AMM applicants can connect in the FB group, AMM Hopefuls to share tips, query critiques & more. AMM also hosts Twitter gatherings like #AskAMM or #AMMparty. (A new round application period opens Jan. 11-14)
  • Nevada SCBWI Mentorship - for PB, MG, YA authors (applications open until Jan 31)
  • We Need Diverse Books - mentorships for authors from traditionally unrepresented groups (applications open in Oct)
  • Twitter pitch parties – #Pitmad, #PBpitch, #DVpit, #SFFpit, #KidLitGN are just a few pitch pitches where people can make friends while pitching their work  
  • For more, check out the Kidlit411's Contests & Awards  or Mentor Programs

Here are some of my favorite creative communities: 
  • Kidlit411 – my friend Elaine Kiely Kearns had an idea 7 years ago to gather articles and resources for children’s writers and illustrators. I joined her and together we made a website (now with 1000s of links and 100s of interviews), a Facebook group of over 11,500 members, and more.  
  • 12x12 – a paid community of picture book writers with monthly webinars and a private forum to exchange critiques and information. 
  • Debut author groups – when authors and illustrators sign contracts for traditional publication, debut year groups form, typically divided between PB and MG/YA creators. These groups have public sites as well as private groups, and are a repository of shared information and support. Some 2021 debut groups include: The 21ders (MG/YA); 21 for the Books (PB), Forever 21 (PB), and new ones are being formed. If you're a MG/YA/adult debut in 2022, ask me about the #22Debuts Slack group. 
  • Others: Storystorm (30 PB ideas in January), #ColourCollective (weekly illustration prompt); Sub It Club (FB group for writers on sub to agents); On Submission (FB group for agented authors on sub to publishers)  
  • My college roommate, who writes in the adult space, recently discussed a community, Creative Caffeine, that sounds intriguing

Final Thoughts

Finding community doesn't require a huge group. Having just a couple good writing friends and CPs can be enough. So much of building connections is informal. I've made friends on Twitter (one of my new author friends and I bonded over our love of Battleship Galactica), giving feedback to applicants to AMM or PW, doing writing sprints in Slack groups, and more.  

Also, don't get hung up with connecting with people who may be "important" or who could help you in your journey. The people who will grow with you are truly the best networks. In August I wrote about my PB critique group & how we all started out unpublished and un-agented and now most of us are both. (I connected with them 8 years ago after seeing the FB posts of a writer who seemed to be my twin in outlook on life - Teresa R! - I asked her if she was in a writing group, and the rest was history).

2020 Reading Roundup

In 2020, I read 114 books, exceeding my Goodreads Reading Challenge of 100 books (50 MG, 29 Adult, 23 YA, 12 PBs; 59 authors of color, 55 white authors). Here some of my top picks:

1. Middle Grade. I loved so many, but two 2020 MGs stood out: When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller (a contemporary fantasy based on Korean myths; a girl uses the power of stories to try to save her dying grandmother) and National Book Award-winner King and the Dragonflies by Kacen Callender (a boy comes to terms with the death of his older brother and being gay).
2. Science Fiction. Out of the 16 sci-fi novels I read, my two top were Network Effect by Martha Wells (the latest installment in one of my favorite series, The Murderbot Diaries, about a rogue security bot who inadvertently bonds with the humans they're tasked to protect) and The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin (an imaginative, expansive story about sentient New York boroughs embodied by people who must save the city). 

3. Young adult: My favorite YA reads were Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas (a trans Latinx brujo accidentally raises his high school's bad boy from the dead; they fall for each other and solve a mystery) and Call Down the Hawk by Maggie Stievater (the first in a new series spun-off from the Raven King series, about a tortured young man who dreams things into existence and a young woman who forges magical paintings)

4. Nonfiction: My scariest read was Mindf*ck: Cambridge Analytica and the Plot to Break America by whistleblower Christopher Wylie, explaining how data mining our FB data led to both Brexit and the hacking of the U.S. elections, plus the concerted effort by Russians and the likes of Steve Bannon to sow chaos and racism in the United States.


What were some of your favorite reads of 2020?

$100 For Your Creative Career

This month, I'm giving away $100 to a randomly-chosen subscriber. I'd love for you to put it toward a writing or art class of your choice, but the gift will be cash, so you can use it in any way that will help your creative endeavors.

To enter:
1) You must subscribe of this newsletter
2) Reply to this email with one word that represents your 2021 intentions or goals. My word for 2021 is CONNECT.

Giveaway ends at 11:59 p.m. Friday, Jan. 15, 2021.

NOTE: If you arrived at this post from an external link and want to enter the giveaway, subscribe to the newsletter (link in upper left corner or the button below), and reply with your one word to the welcome or confirmation email (either works).
Subscribe to my Email Newsletter
Copyright © 2021 Sylvia Liu, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp