It takes a community to create an author—unless you’re a literary genius and secretly produce fantastic works in your basement that get snatched up right away. If this is you, you are amazing, and please continue kicking ass, you lucky bastard. Regardless, you’ll probably still want to be involved in the romance writers community.
Most of us, sadly, are NOT literary geniuses, and we have to learn everything the hardest way possible—through doing it wrong, bumbling around blindly for years, receiving constructive criticism which we then apply incorrectly, and back to the beginning we go.
As we’re doing all this circular blundering and flailing, we’re consistently getting our hopes crushed with rejections, low scores in contests, and gut-punching feedback, but someone cheers us on. We’re not successful—yet—but someone has read our work and disagrees with Agent X and Editor Z. Someone thinks we’re great and have something special to share with this world. Someone who’s been there before offers guidance. So we brush ourselves off and get back up. Because we’re writers, and we write. That’s what we do.
Who is that someone?
The romance genre is home to one of the warmest and most welcoming writing communities out there. It makes sense. We write about love. Through organizations like Romance Writers of America (RWA), social media, and contests like Pitch Wars, romance writers can network and find their writer friends, critique partners, and mentors.
Are you an introvert who’s embarrassed to let people know you write romance and dream of having your name splashed across a man torso paperback at the grocery store? You’re not alone!
Interact with others in your romance writers community via local RWA chapter meetings, online venues, and contests, and they will become your support group (and you, theirs) as you work toward your publication goals.
They might not have read your book/s, but they care. They will cheer for you when you reach your success landmarks and cry with you when you don’t. They are worth their weight in platinum.
Not only are Critique Partners (CPs) your writer friends, but they exchange work with you. They read your crappiest drafts and offer feedback and encouragement in return for the same from you. As my social life is nonexistent, my CPs are also my BFFs.
How do you find a CP? It’s like dating. You can feel out your writer friends to see if they’re a good fit or participate in CP matching programs through RWA or Twitter (#CPMatch).
Mentors are rare, wonderful humans. If you’re lucky enough to have one, this person will share their knowledge with you and help you improve. The absolute best place to find a mentor is Brenda Drake’s Pitch Wars contest . Some chapters of RWA may have mentoring programs, as well.
Romance Writers of America
RWA is an incredible network of romance writers in the United States with hundreds of local chapters. At chapter meetings, you will learn about both the craft and business sides of writing as well as make writer friends and meet potential CPs. It’s a solid foundation for the romance writers community.
This is a writing contest where experienced writers (mentors) help less experienced writers (mentees) improve their manuscripts during a two-month revision period in preparation for a final agent round.
I participated in Pitch Wars 2016 with fabulous mentor Brighton Walsh, and it was hands down the best thing I’ve ever done for my writing career. I learned a massive amount craft- and industry-wise and made a life-long friend in Brighton. In addition, the other mentees from the contest are now my CPs and best writer friends. The Pitch Wars community is A+.
If you don’t like contests or peopling in person but you’re comfortable on social media, a great place for meeting other writers is Twitter. Here, you can follow your favorite authors, agents, and editors and get the latest publishing drama.
Some hashtags to search: #RWChat, #amwriting, #amwritingromance, #FridayKiss, #PitchWars, #tenqueries, #500queries, #querytip, #MSWL.
Your Romance Writers Community
Connecting to the romance writers community can only help you as you work toward meeting your writing goals. There are other people out there walking your same path. You don’t have to do it alone, so don’t be afraid to get involved!