Friday, October 12, 2007

Sometimes, it is who you know

Contacts are very important in any business, and they are just as important for writers as they are for bankers, realtors and any other professional.

To succeed as a writer you need a lot of things: Talent, skill, luck, ability, etc. But personal contacts can help.

Getting to know editors, and other writers, can help. First, these other people become your peers, and they can become a sort-of support group for you. Who else knows the goods and bads and ins and outs of the writing business than editors and other writers? They can also provide advice, and sometimes they're just swell people to hang out with or chat with online.

And, and this is a big and, they can help your career.


Simple. If an editor has one slot open for a story in his or her publication, and they have two great stories in front of them, they are more than likely going to pick the story from the writer whom they are most familiar.

Foul! Right? No, not right. It's fair. You might scream nepotism or favoritism or some other -tism, but the truth of the matter is that editors are human too, so most of the time they're going to go with the safe bet, someone they know and trust to provide them with good material. Also, editors, more so often than writers, realize publishing is a business ... that's right, a business, not artsy fartsy or playtime or any other garbage ... publishing is a business, so again, the editor is probably going to play it safe.

Now, that's not always the case. Again, editors are human, so maybe some of them will sometimes give the new guy or gal a try. Or maybe they just feel they've published a lot of work from one particular writer of late and they want some fresh meat in their publication.

But regardless, it never hurts to make contacts. And contacts at smaller publications could be just as important as knowing the big-city, hot-shot editor at a major book publisher. Someday that hotshot editor is going to retire or move on, then he or she is going to be replaced. And the truth of the matter is this, quite often the newest bigshot editor at the giant publishing house is someone who has worked their way up from smaller publications. It happens. Be prepared for it. A lot of known editors and publishers started off 10 or 20 or 30 years ago with a fanzine or just as fans.

So, the lesson of the day is, get to know some people.

Oh, yeah, and be nice to them. Nobody likes an asshole writer.

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