I think it is particularly important for pre-published authors to keep track of the writing and publishing world. Especially in this down-sized market, in this poor economy, and in this world with a wealth of opportunities...and scams.
That said, one tool that I'm finding particularly helpful is...Twitter.
Which surprises me. I've found Facebook helpful to get in contact with writers--my last two interviews on this blog were done through initial Facebook contact. But I've viewed Twitter as an almost throw-away...another way to network, sure, but not really useful.
Colleen Lindsey is changing all that.
Besides being the brain-power behind #queryfail and #queryday on Twitter, she's also begun doing #askagent posts. Last night, as I was about to go to bed, I popped on Twitter. Colleen posted a tweet about how she would be taking questions for agents for the next hour. Soon, Jenny Rapaport and Literaticat joined.
As I'm working on a YA SF novel, I immediately asked about the market: where they saw YA SF in the future, how close were YA SF and science fantasy. Others asked about daily life of an agent, publicity, and other marketing questions.
It only lasted for about an hour or so (the agents each volunteered an hour, but started at different times). Because it was unannounced, it was less crowded than #queryday, and my questions were answered within seconds of posting...which enabled me to easily ask follow-up questions.
It's unfeasible for pre-published writers to meet with agents and discuss the publishing world in real life. But #askagent on Twitter felt like I walked into a bar with three agents and was able to discuss publishing while waiting for the bartender to pull my beer. THIS is what I'd like to see Twitter become: Cheers.