As I age, I have more and more doctors -- one for my eyes, my ears, my teeth, my heart, my skin . . . and so on. And I have discovered that doctors can be a great source of knowledge and encouragement, and not just about health issues. My cardiologist is a published poet and an aspiring novelist. He and I both recently finished our first novels, and he has advised me about helpful conferences, and venues to 'pitch' my novel to publishers and agents. We compare notes about our novels, and are racing to the finish line - publication.
I recently went for my bi-annual visit to my dentist. Though there are fewer opportunities to converse with a dentist, as he (or she) usually has his (or her) hand (or hands) in one's mouth, but before and after the actual work there is time for brief conversation. He asked me what my plans were for the summer, and I told him I wanted to finish, finally and completely finish, my book and find an agent. Lo and behold, he has a friend who is a literary agent and has her own firm. I was happily surprised. He asked for my information and told me he'd contact her to see if she might be interested in receiving a query letter from me (a letter aspiring novelists write to entice agents or publishers to want to read the entire manuscript).
I wrote my email address down for him, and the name Olaudah Equiano - as my historical novel is about the daughter and sister of Equiano. I figured if the agent knew his name, she would be more likely to want to receive a query. Later that same day my dentist emailed me - she knew the name Equiano and would be happy to receive a query. Yippee! I'm fine-tuning my query and the first five pages, and will soon be sending them through cyberspace to a fine literary agency in Florida, in hopes that this agent may want to represent me, and find me a publisher. I'll keep you updated here on my blog.
So, opportunities for networking can be found in the most unlikely places. And I have found one ideal place is the doctor's office! My prescription for aspiring writers, don't neglect an opportunity to talk about your book as you never know who might be able to help you on the journey to publication.