Letters from the Real World: Camp NaNoWriMo

Me at a "funny hat" NaNoWriMo get together last November.
Me at a “funny hat” NaNoWriMo get together last November.

I have been doing every single National Novel Writing Month event for about eight years now. NaNoWriMo (as it’s called) has expanded from just November to include a “Camp” in April and a “Camp” in July. The differences between November NaNoWriMo and Camp are that you can set your own word goal for Camp and you get an online “cabin” with cabin mates that you can live chat with.

Now, here’s the funny part: I’ve never, ever, ever ‘won’ a NaNoWriMo event. Ever. But I finish and publish books all the time. So, go figure.

How does this relate to book marketing? It actually does, if you don’t write in a lonely basement, cut off from the world with only you and Igor the rat you have befriended with crusts of bread from your meager meals. Um…may have gone too far on that one. Oh well.

Aside from actually writing, the whole point of NaNoWriMo is to get you hooked up with other writers. A lot those connections will help you find your moral and literary support team. Some of those connections, however, will be for people who run interesting blogs and are looking for writers. For me, at least, I’ve found that guest-blogging is a fantastic way for me to get visibility. You’ll also get offers from people who are following NaNoWriMo’ers in order to promote their editing/proofing/marketing services.

I have a lot of fun doing word sprints on Twitter, and it’s amazing how much it helps me focus and drive my word counts forward. By sharing my project, my LSW’s (last sentence written), and general banter with other sprinters, I’ve met a lot of like-minded writers and bloggers. In fact, some of the best guest-blogging opportunities I’ve had this year have come from folks I met through NaNoWriMo sprints.

The NaNoWriMo main website has message boards that are always a great place to connect with other writers, especially ones specific to your genre. You might be able to find opportunities to exchange guest-blogging gigs or get inspired by some of the things they have done to promote their books.

For Camp NaNoWriMo, I love the cabin setting, where you can chat with your cabin mates. Last summer, I ended up with a group of amazing women also writing paranormal romances. We ended up wanting to name our cabin because we were just awesome that way. We put together a long list and narrowed it down to “Cabin of Lost Souls” or “Cabin with a Cauldron.” In a stroke of brilliance, one of the campers suggested “Cabin of Lost Souls with a Cauldron.” TEAM COLSWAC was born. Yes, we are designing a mug. No, you can’t have one.

We are together again for April, and I’m super excited to be with them in my cabin. I’m also making plans to be bigger, better and badder on Twitter for sprinting because it’s just so much fun, and I really do have a lot to share now. My Camp project is to finish book 3 of my Blue Moon series, “Blue Blood.” I’ve set a goal for 60k words, and I’m totally ready to go for it.

I guess today’s real world lesson is be yourself and get out there. Even if something seems like just a writing event, get involved and start getting to know people. You never know where it will lead…and when you’ll come up with coffee mugs.


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