The Blog of Author Robert K. Lewis

On the Joining of Professional Organizations.

So, after I got my book deal (see the post below this one), I figured I would now start joining up with some organizations for writers of mysteries and thrillers. It was, actually, a sorta hard decision to make. Why? Well, let me just confess something here:

I.Am.NOT.A.Joiner.

I’m a lone wolf, man. I drink alone, me and nobody else. Je suis seul. Or, to put it even more clearly, per Woody Allen: “I would never want to be a member of a club that would have me as a member.”

But, here I am.

I found myself WANTING to become a part of this great mass of humans who write and publish crime fiction.

So, my first foray into joining-ness, was International Thriller Writers. I sent off my application, and got an email damn fast back, welcoming me. And I was glad I did! Why?

Well, they have a “debut authors mentor program”. I sent off another email, and got a GREAT and warm welcome email from Allan Leverone and then another from Jenny Milchman, both who work not only with ITW, but also their debut authors program.

And again, this joining quickly paid off. In spades.

Because I soon found myself on a Skype Q&A conference call with one of my favorite writers. Lee Child, author of like 16+ Jack Reacher novels! Man, there I was, drinking my coffee and Bailys at like 9am on a Sunday, hooked up with a few other debut authors, Allan and Jenny, and… LEE CHILD. It was great, and I learned SO MUCH. What did I learn? Well, I learned that I’m approaching this entire publishing thing with the right attitude; that we’re ALL on the same team, and that my feeling that I’ll pull as hard on the rope as everyone else is SPOT ON, attitude-wise. I learned that I was on the right path.

And Lee Child was great, man. SO much about “paying it forward”. And well, just so engaging and generous. It was awesome.

And why did this happen?

Because I’d gotten over myself and joined a professional organization.

No, it won’t always be like this, I know, but it was a great start. I’m learning to reach out… to ask questions of people that know a HELL of a lot more than I do.

Next up: The Mystery Writers of America, and the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association (NICIBA). Yeah, you need to have a book sold to join some of these guys, but that’s not the point. The point is that it’s important for a writer to surround themselves with as many resources as possible, as they travel along on their journey to publication, and beyond. I had this great opportunity, to speak with a writer, one who is really one of my writing heroes, simply because I got over my fear of becoming a part of some formal, organized group.

It can work. On many different levels. It might make you feel more legitimate, I don’t know. Might make you feel like you’re moving ahead on your path. Bottom line though: you get access to resources you might not otherwise have.

Take the leap. Do it. If THIS misanthropic mess can adjust to joining a group (and trust me, I AM the ORIGINAL misanthrope!), then you can, too. And if not an organization like the ones I mentioned above? Well, there are ones like Sisters in Crime (I LOVE getting their newsletter! Always chock full of goodness!). Or a place like Agent Query Connect. The forums there are FULL of great advice and, well, camaraderie. 🙂

RkL

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