In a previous post, one commenter said, “I’d love to know how to get on listservs or good blogs to connect to more librarians.” How do you find places to plug-in online?
No one can give YOU a specific list of places, because there are too many variables. Your book, your interests, your career goals–these will determine where you should plug in. But there are some general ideas that might help.
Subject Specific Listservs or Forums. You can start by looking up listservs or forums that specifically focus on the topic of your book. Let’s use two examples: an elementary nonfiction about birds, and a YA problem novel about alcoholism. Start with the obvious: Audubon Society and Al-Anon. These national organizations may have listservs that discuss topics of interest; or they may have magazines you could write for. But also look for local/regional listservs. On search engines, look for listserv and then “birds,” “Ornithology,” and so on. Also, look for trade or professional organizations to see if they have listservs. You may have to join the National Science Teachers Association, but if you’re writing science books for kids, you should do that anyway!
Audience Specific Listservs or Forums. Likewise, if the most important thing about your writing is the audience you serve–you only write YA books–then look for listservs discussing YAs. Here, you are putting the emphasis on the fact that your teen novel about alcoholism is written for teens. The issue of alcohol is secondary, so you’re not looking for AAA or Al-Anon groups. In the short run, you might be tempted to join these groups for a while after a book is published, but the question is how long can you keep it up? Will your next book also be right for AAA or Al-Anon? If not, then it makes sense to join the YA group instead. Build relationships for the future,not around periphery issues that you can’t sustain over the long haul.
Genre Specific Listservs or Forums. Finally, you might look for listservs and forums that focus on a certain genre: fantasy, science fiction, mysteries, historical fiction, nonfiction, etc.
I joined a state-wide birding listserv for a while, but ultimately, that wasn’t where my heart was. Now, I am on local and national librarians listservs, a better place for me with my long-term goals. Where should you be, considering your long term goals? How can you participate in this community in a meaningful way (NOT just with promos)?
Good practices for Participating in a Listserv
What do you do once you’ve located a few appropriate listservs? First, familiarize yourself with any special guidelines this listserv has.
- Know the group’s guidelines. Know what this particular listserv considers polite or rude. Some require you to use your whole name, location and job description in a signature, while others are more informal. When you join, you should receive guidelines, so read them and obey them.
- Use a Sig. Make sure you load up your email signature with goodies. Here’s my current sig:
BOOKS: DESERT BATHS (Sylvan Dell)
NSTA-Outstanding Science Trade Books 2013 list
“intriguing combination of biology and earth science” KIRKUS reviews
“will hold children’s interest on many levels” SLJ reviews
Spanish version: LAS DUCHAS EN EL DESIERTO
WISDOM, THE MIDWAY ALBATROSS “. . .a bird bio that’s easy to distinguish from the flock.”
Elizabeth Bird, Fuse#8 Blog, SLJ
- Post only when it is appropriate. When you go to a cocktail party, you don’t collar every person and shove a book in their face. Same here. Take a month to see where conversations go and think about how you can join in (and let your sig do the promo work for you) with helpful information or interesting comments.
- Set to DIGEST. Most listservs use a common set of commands that let you control your subscription. I always set my subscriptions to DIGEST, so they collect a bunch of messages and send them as one. At the top of a DIGEST is usually a Table of Contents. When I get a message (and one listserv I am on sends out a dozen Digests per day), I scan the TOC for anything of interest. Nothing there? I delete. About once or twice a week, there is a post about something that I can answer and I’ll send a private message to that person. About once a month or so, I’ll post a message to the whole group, making sure that it is NOT just a promo about my book(s), but it’s something interesting and helpful to the group at large. In other words, I try to participate in the community in a helpful way.
What do you think about listservs and forums? Are you a member of a couple and does it help promote your books over all?