Pssst! Maybe It’s Who You Are

Some people think of publishing as an “It’s who you know” industry. And it often works that way.

But I believe it’s not “who you know” as much as “who you are.”

You may think:

  • “I’m no one. I’m not published. I’m still adding to my (growing) file of rejections.”
  • “I’m no one. My first book didn’t do well and I can’t even get an agent to return my calls.”
  • “Sure my series sold well, but I’m still waiting for that big break that will make me the next Dean Koontz.”

Treadmill reality?

Whatever goal you have yet to accomplish, do you feel you’re constantly dodging the next obstacle? Maybe you see yourself as George Jetson, walking his dog on that moving sidewalk outside his space bungalow—walking, walking, walking—but never going anywhere.

I’m not trying to scare you, but maybe it’s not who you know. Maybe it’s who you are.

Are you the kind of writer who:

  • Bristles when someone suggests edits you don’t like?
  • Doesn’t use standard manuscript formatting?
  • Never follows up when an editor requests your proposal—with changes?
  • Always asks for deadline extensions?
  • Pushes ahead of others to get the seat at the editor’s side at a conference meal?
  • Brings every conversation back to you and your project?
  • Believes you know it all, but no one sees your brilliance?

Time for a rehab?

If you see any of these traits in yourself, consider whether you may be sabotaging yourself. What changes can you make to be the kind of writer editors want to work with?

Editors prefer writers who are partners in the process—writers who have a long-term vision not just for their own careers, but also for where their work fits into the larger picture.

Be that writer and you’ll come to know and be known by the right people.

Michael Ehret, for Writing on the Fine Line


7 thoughts on “Pssst! Maybe It’s Who You Are

  1. Awesome post! I definitely welcome sound editing advice–it takes my writing to the next level! I know I don’t know it all, but there is some level of confidence a newbie writer has to have in his/her writing. Otherwise, quitting will quickly be on the horizon. So I do think you have to think your novel/writing is brilliant, or at least something worth publishing.

    • Heather,

      I do agree, but there has to be a balance between knowing you have something to offer and knowing you still have much to learn. Even the most successful writers I know are still learning the craft every day. And the very best realize they can learn from everyone–even the unpublished.

      Perseverance could be a future blog post, eh?

      • Ah, yes, I totally agree on that. I love getting input from all my writerly friends, from the unpubbed to the multi-pubbed. I found that in critique groups, those who are pubbed bring helpful info (like recent trends in dialogue tagging), and those who weren’t pubbed brought fresh insight into the storyline itself. Yes, we can learn from almost anyone!

        Oooh, and perseverance (always spell that wrong!)–that would be a great post. When to give up, when to stick to it, etc.

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