Friday, November 03, 2006


This past Sunday I finished up work with the Texas Book Festival, except for follow-up meetings, turning in my notebook, etc., until next year begins for the committee chairs. Today I went to the first planning meeting for Texas Mystery Month next May. I’m already scheduled for a day of gift wrapping for the Bess Whitehead Scott Scholarship Fund in December.

Although I would have liked a little time between the Book Festival and Mystery Month work, I like volunteering and I recommend it to others, especially aspiring writers.

Granted, unless you volunteer for something like an agents conference and you ask for the job of driving agents to and from the airport or being an agent escort, you’re not likely to meet an agent who might represent you. But there are other benefits. If you work on writing-related events, your chances are good you’ll meet published authors. Generally speaking, authors are nice, generous people. You can learn things about the business and about writing by talking to them. You might get to meet other aspiring writers. This could lead to critique partners or possibly someone to join up with on a book tour after you’re both published. You might get to meet people who manage or set up events at bookstores. That kind of a contact could come in handy when you’re published. And what about the people in charge of the event, like the Book Festival or the writing organization putting on the conference? Getting to know them may set you up in the future to teach classes or appear at the event yourself.

A lot of these benefits of volunteering have you looking for and reaping the benefits far into the future, after you’re published. When I teach a workshop on book promotion, I tell writers to start thinking of ways to promote their books early, like when they begin writing. You can’t wait until after it’s published.

Then, of course, there’s always the good feeling you get from giving back to the writing community. Get involved. You’ll meet people and you’ll reap immediate and far reaching benefits.

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