Friday, January 14, 2011

Who Do You Know?

Have you ever thought about your favorite actor or recording artist or author and wondered what special person in their life had the “right connections” to help that particular person succeed? Because, as we’ve all been told a bazillion times before, it’s all about who you know, right?

I used to hate that statement, because it made me think that since I didn’t have a rich relative or famous friend, I couldn’t possibly reach success levels that others had. Also, it inferred (in my mind) that the successful person was only successful because of who they knew, rather than because of their own talent or skills.

Maybe for some people that’s accurate. But not for the majority.

When I started writing, I didn’t know a single soul who actually wrote books for a living. In fact, I didn’t know anyone who wrote anything for money. I didn’t even know anyone who wrote as a hobby (to my knowledge). And I had NO idea how to get started. All I knew was that I wanted to write a book. Just one. And it didn’t have to be published, because I wasn’t going to tell anyone—not even my husband.

We all know how big that snowball got. And it’s still rolling. Several years later, after numerous conferences and classes, I have lots of author friends. I’m acquainted with publishers and editors. The list of people I “know” in the industry is long.

But has knowing them made me successful?

If by successful you mean a NYT bestseller, making big money on royalties, and waiting for word on a movie deal that will smash all previous book-to-movie conversion records, than the answer is no. Not yet.

But if by successful you mean have I grown as a writer or author? Have I honed my craft, put time and efforts into learning all I can? Have I gained knowledge from having my work critiqued and in turn critiquing for others? Do I have support from the writing community? If you are asking any of these questions, then the answer is absolutely a resounding YES!

Has knowing the right people helped me get a contract faster? Depends on how you look at it. I have not yet signed with an agent, and I do not yet have a national book deal. But I do have two books published in smaller houses, and I’ve grown in leaps and bounds since I started.

So. What are my odds of success? No idea. But I will tell you, they’re a whole lot better today than they were six or seven years ago. And yes, it is because of who I know.

Go figure.


Jemi Fraser said...

I totally agree - the writing community I've met online is absolutely incredible! The absolute best! :)

Anonymous said...

I think it's not just who you know, but who you let yourself know... a lot of people hold themselves back from getting to know the right people who might help them head in the right direction, because they forget that that "right" person was probably where they were too once.

I think the creative world in general is a great place, because a lot of times the people further along the path than you are are always willing to help you out, but you have to reach out first.