Saturday, March 11, 2023

Building Your Author Network, One Volunteer Job At A Time By Lisa Malice

Hello all! My name is Lisa Malice, a psychologist-turned-fiction author. I write to thrill with psychological suspense. My debut novel, Lest She Forget, will be released in December by CamCat Books. It’s the story of a woman suffering from dissociative fugue (PTSD-induced amnesia) and running from a deadly past she can’t remember—but must—to thwart the stalker on her trail, a faceless man willing to kill to find her. More on my debut novel and some interesting research underpinning my heroine's story in future blogs.

For now, I just want to tell you that I am excited to be joining the talented crime authors who offer you the daily blog, Writers Who Kill. This opportunity will offer you and me a chance to get to know one another and share knowledge, ideas, and stories. 

When I first embarked upon my writing journey, I had no idea that I would meet so many interesting people, many of whom have become close, supportive friends, including writers, readers, editors, agents, publishers, social media and marketing gurus, and a host of experts in a variety of intriguing forensic fields. In fact, I’m in the line editing stage of my novel, part of which is writing acknowledgements, recognizing everyone who needs to be thanked for accompanying me on what has been the most adventurous trip of my life.  

I wouldn’t be where I am today—a few months away from publishing my first crime novel with an ambitious publisher—without the encouragement and support of these people, a network cultivated over the years through my involvement in crime writers’ organizations and conferences. As my December launch date nears, I’ll need these people in my corner even more to reach readers and sell books.

I credit New York Times bestselling author Mary Kay Andrews with setting me on the “write” road when we met at a library luncheon in 2012, when she suggested I join three writers’ groups that would help me learn how to write and publish crime fiction--Sisters in Crime (SinC), Mystery Writers of America (MWA), and Romance Writers of America (RWA). I did so the very next day. International Thriller Writers (ITW) and The Authors Guild (AG) came a bit later. I attended conferences—Killer Nashville, Bouchercon, Thrillerfest, energizing my efforts toward publication.

Each organization or event offered different programs and opportunities for me to grow as a writer—informative meeting speakers, workshops, webinars, digital access to educational archives, and most importantly, the invaluable opportunity to connect, learn from, and make great friends with writers locally and across the country, from those just starting to put words on the page to those who’ve sold millions of books worldwide.

What I would like to convey more with this inaugural blog post is how much you, as a writer, can get by giving of yourself to your writing community, how it can open doors for you that will help you be a better writer and make those connections you need to publish and sell your book.

I know what I’m talking about here because I’m a compulsive volunteer, all too willing to jump in and help when I see a need, and my efforts have been eagerly welcomed. Start at the chapter level, like I did, offer your talents a few hours per month any way you feel comfortable, for example, managing the membership roll, writing the newsletter, helping to secure monthly speakers, managing a chapter online resource (Facebook, website, Meetup, virtual meeting technology). Officer roles, such as secretary or treasurer, are good options to start out slow as a chapter leader. These are all important roles, and your willingness to contribute to the success of your chapter will not go unnoticed nor unappreciated both within your chapter and beyond. 

Serving as a SinC chapter leader also opened doors for me and my members to meet big-name authors. Flashing my SinC credentials often led to meals, happy hours, and coffee breaks with bestselling authors coming to town for book appearances--most memorably, with Tess Gerritsen, Sue Grafton, Hank Phillippi Ryan, among many others. Just mentioning SinC drew a big smile and hug from Lisa Scottoline during her 2015 library event, along with an offer to get my WIP to Lisa’s agent when I was ready to query (I was a few years away from that at the time).

Conferences are no place to be shy and are great opportunities to meet national board members from every organization, all eager to meet you, especially if you convey your willingness to lend a few hours a month supporting their group’s work.

When I encountered Chris Goff at Bouchercon in 2018, SinC’s Education Committee Chair at the time, she was just getting National’s webinar program off the ground. I mentioned my work doing webinars for our SinC Atlanta members and offered her my help, which she eagerly accepted. I served as a webinar producer and moderator for nearly two years. Early on in my tenure, when we jumped from one webinar per month to two, I drew on my network of author friends to recruit moderators. It was great fun and amazing exposure working with so many talented authors and subject matter experts. These programs also put my name and face in front of thousands of SinC members who viewed the webinar live or have done so via SinC ‘s online webinar archives.

Similarly, I met up with ITW’s Executive Director, Kimberley Howe at both Thrillerfest and Bouchercon.  My offer to volunteer my skills led to a job as a consulting editor for ITW’s digital magazine, The Big Thrill, interviewing members about their newest releases, then writing up feature articles for the monthly publication. With a circulation of more than 30,000 subscribers, The Big Thrill is great exposure for me, too! More important are the new author friends I’ve made across the country, who I promote via social media and who will do the same for me after my book launches. 

Conferences are great for building wonderfully supportive friendships. I first met members of Writers Who Kill—Martha Reed, Debra Goldstein, Paula Benson, Annette Dashofy--at Killer Nashville. All these ladies helped me in one way or another, supporting my SinC programming efforts, as well as my needs personally as an emerging author, whether it was helping me craft a great query letter, reviewing my options for publishing houses, or connecting me with someone I should meet. Martha and I became especially good buddies after both moving to the Tampa area and volunteering for the local SinC chapter to create programming that more than sustained our group through the pandemic, but grew its membership. (Thank you again, Martha, for nominating me to fill this opening with Writers Who Kill). 

We can write by ourselves, but we can’t publish and sell without friends to support us! With so many amazing people in my corner, a network developed through my willingness to contribute my time and skills to the crime writing community, I’m hopeful that my debut novel will reach thousands of thriller fans. I’ll ask for blurbs and reviews from authors and other I know, of course, but relying on my friends to share my book news and reviews on social media can help me reach my future readers. 

Let’s keep the conversation going. How have you grown your network of writers, readers, and other publishing friends over the course of your publishing journey? What rewards have you reaped from being connected to others? How have you involved yourself in writers’ organizations? What did you get in return for your support?


  1. I can't agree more, Lisa. As with most things in life giving opens the door to receiving.

  2. Are you a writer? A crime reader? How do you give of yourself?

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  4. Hi Lisa, it’s a pleasure to meet you. I look forward to learning more about you. As for volunteering – YES! It’s the perfect way to network and connect.

  5. Yes to volunteering! This is one of my favorite tips for new writers, Lisa. Glad to have you on board at WWK.

  6. Great article! I’m an avid book blogger with aspirations to finally am starting writing the mystery series that’s been living in my head and in journals notes here and there. I’ve attended a few recent SinC webinars and joining a chapter is high on my list of to do’s.

  7. So glad you've joined us! Looking forward to that new book.