Sunday, May 03, 2009


In publishing, it's who you know that matters.

I hear this sentiment a lot, usually from people who haven't been published. It isn't entirely true. Trust me, there's no great conspiracy to keep great writers off the market. The publishing industry desperately needs breakout hits. Then they need other writers to create derivative works to cash in on the popularity. No one in the publishing industry makes a killing at it. Most scrape by. They're in the business for the love of it. If they read something that knocks their socks off, they're going to champion it in a big way.

But notice that I said "entirely true." It helps to know people. And by help, I mean that you get a better picture of how the publishing industry works by talking to many published writers. You hear about trends in publishing as they're happening. You get to learn from someone's bad experience, saving you the trouble of a do-it-yourself disaster. Then there are the opportunities that drop into your lap because you know someone.

In the past few months, I've been offered some wonderful opportunities. The temptation to get involved is strong. The potential benefits are almost worth it. And I always regret opting out when I see the project moving forward. But here's the thing - I only have so much time in my life. I do not churn out stories. I am fascinated and astounded by people who can. I'm just not one of them. So I have to pass on anything that isn't a pet project. That kills me, because through years of networking with writers and editors, I finally know people. And it doesn't do me any good.

1 comment:

Helen said...

I feel your pain. I'm at that point too these days, where I know enough editors and publishers that I can stay out of the slush pile and get a good second look when I submit something. However, like you I have limited time and projects of my own that I desperately want to keep working on.

It's a question of priorities. I don't think my name will disappear from these people's memories, especially not with all the work I am getting done, so at some point when time does free up, I'll be ready to dive in.