One key to effective networking is to think outside the “writer” box. It’s relatively easy for us to seek out other writers—after all, we have a lot in common with others who spend their time spinning out words! But there’s a whole long food chain of other people who work to put good books into the hands of young readers, and all of them can be excellent allies as you strive to develop manuscripts that will have true kid-appeal and work to market your published books. Here’s just a starter list of some of the other players to consider as you expand your networking goals: teachers, librarians, PTA parents, local media people focused on children’s issues, and booksellers. Try this little exercise: Create a set of characters, each of which holds one of these roles. Just as you would for fictional characters you’re creating, try to put yourself into their shoes. How are they connected to children’s books? Where do they like to hang out in their spare time? What groups might they join? What concerns most preoccupy them? What would they tell a hopeful writer seeking advice about appealing to kids? Where do they turn up on social media? Getting to know these “characters” will help you better understand the real-life people who hold these roles, and give you ideas for how to expand your network beyond the comfortable circle of other writers.
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