Publishing sometimes seems like a secret society that doesn't take kindly to strangers, doesn't it? It's not. Promise! Like any other industry, it's made up of a million different personalities. Lucky for you, all of those personalities are attached to real, live people--many of whom would love to have a conversation with you. Here are some great places to go online (and IRL) to talk directly with other writers/illustrators/editors/designers.
1. Twitter! (Follow us.) There are TONS of book publishing types here.
2. Verla Kay (the "Blue Boards"). A WEALTH of information from writers, illustrators, agents, editors, etc. Ask all your questions and get plenty of answers.
3. SCBWI (especially your regional chapter). Go to the conferences, meet other writers and illustrators, learn from the pros, and have a blast. I've heard of more than one deal that sparked from a conversation at an SCBWI conference. Even if you can't get to New York or LA for the national conferences, the regional conferences can be just as great.
4. Your local bookstore and library. Go to readings, spend time browsing, and support the community.
Where else do you go to talk to writers/illustrators/book lovers? What other networking tips do you have for other book lovers? Leave tips in the comments.