Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Learning from the Creative Community: 3 Places to Start

As in any industry, continuing to develop your skills regardless of how other people perceive your abilities and success is fundamental to achieving your career goals. What's that mean for someone in a creative field?  That means you have to study the art and the business. This week's topic is about from whom we learn: teachers, mentors, and other resources.

KAK's Top 3 Resources for Being a Better Career Author

1. Fellow Authors:  From their works to their social media to workshops they offer, I look to my peers to fill in my knowledge gaps. That means I read widely, I "follow" outside my "clique," and I participate in author-groups. One of the many nice things about genre authors is that they freely share their advice and experiences in public forums. The diversity of our backgrounds and experiences usually means there are some great nuggets of useful information to be had amid the banter and inanity. Find them on Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, YouTube, etc.

Where to start? Pick 6 authors outside your circle-of-norms, and check their websites for where they hang out online. Choose:
--> 2 authors who are current commercial darlings (1 debut, 1 established)
--> 2 authors who are critical darlings (check the lists of award winners--Hugos, Ritas, Gemmell, Locus, Stoker, etc--for the last 3 years)
--> 2 authors who are industry veterans that other successful authors respect.

2. Reader Groups: There are numerous reader-groups on the Web discussing my genre and its many sub-genres. I've joined a few to listen, NOT to hawk my wares. What do they like? What do they care about? What annoys them and what are they hoping to find? Maybe it's a legacy from my marketing days, but these communities are the best focus groups for which an author could ask.

Where to start? Look to Facebook and Reddit for great reader communities. Yes, the quantity of discussions and daily messages can be overwhelming. Using the sites' digest settings, filtering, and mute tools to manage the deluge.

3. Other Creative Professionals: While publishing likes to think it's a snowflake, there are a lot of issues and opportunities that are common across the greater creative industry. There are also a lot of innovative solutions that can be tweaked to improve your processes and business. Pay attention to discussions about tech, tools, laws, sales, marketing, customer expectations, predators, pirates, etc. Also take note of the tips for mental and physical health, refreshing the creative-well, and humor rooted in the common struggle for respect and recognition.

Where to start? Social media of course. As for who to follow, well, that's a bit more complicated. You're looking for creatives who actually share that "behind the scenes" information on their feeds. I find illustrators and designers are as forthcoming as authors, while actors and musicians are bit more guarded. They often share the pretty and the product; less so with the process and business. To build a list, check the awards nominations from #1 above and look to their retweets/shares.

Dear reader, if you have a follow-favorite, let me know! 
I'm always looking to learn from new perspectives.