Where Do You Find the Connections To Get Published?
Let’s recap the action so far: You need 3 things to get your novel published:
Today we’ll look at #3 on the list — Connections.
The problem is that you can have marvelous Content and incredible Craft, but if you don’t have any Connections — an editor who wants to buy your novel — then your book is going to languish in anguish.
These days, it’s very difficult to sell your novel to an editor on your own. Editors are just too swamped to look at every piece of junk that somebody sends them. Most publishing houses, in fact, will SEND YOUR NOVEL BACK UNOPENED if they don’t know who you are.
That means, in practice, that you probably need an agent. An agent’s job is to have tons of Connections with editors. It’s all too tempting for the beginning writer to think that having an agent will solve all their problems. “If only I had a first-class agent, I could sell this great idea and then I’d have time to write my novel.”
Yeah, right. You know what? It takes more than a great agent. The best agent in the world can’t help if your idea is lame or your writing is crappy. That’s just a fact. If you don’t believe me, ask any agent or any editor or any published novelist. They’ll all tell you the same thing.
That puts you in a tough spot. Because the great agents of the world won’t give you the time of day if your Content sucks OR if your Craft is second-rate. Why should they waste time trying to sell a manuscript that can’t be sold? Agents are in business to make money, not to bang their head against the wall.
Oh, sure, you might find an incompetent agent who’ll take your money for “evaluating your manuscript.” Run like fire from such thieves. They won’t help you.
So, is the situation hopeless? No, not at all. Let’s turn the logic around here. We’ve agreed that an agent won’t work with you if your Content and Craft are lousy. That’s the bad news.
The good news is that if your Content and Craft are excellent, the good agents will be a whole lot more interested in you.
Why? Because the combination of great Content AND great Craft is rare. And valuable. An agent will have no confidence that he can sell your novel unless you have great Content and great Craft.
And that’s the key to getting Connections. Get the best possible Content. Learn the best possible Craft. It’s a simple idea.
It’s a simple idea, and it can be made even simpler. The thing is that you probably ALREADY HAVE pretty strong Content. There’s a reason you’ve got a burning in your gut to write a novel. It’s because you have something to say, right? You’ve lived life. You’ve been in the thick of things. You’ve got some wisdom socked away in your soul. You’ve got great stuff you want to put in a story. In other words, you’ve got Content.
What that means is that probably the only thing you need RIGHT NOW is to develop your Craft. Then you can use your powerful Craft and your great Content to find excellent Connections — a top-notch agent. And then the agent will do his best to sell your book to the appropriate editor.
Now you have a target. Develop your Craft. I’ll remind you that most beginning writers aren’t anywhere close to that target. Most begining novelists spend weeks or months or YEARS trying to figure out what they ought to be shooting at.
You KNOW what you should be shooting at. You’ve got two legs up on everyone else. That doesn’t mean you’re there yet. Not by a long shot. But at least you know where “there” is. You’ve got a goal — great Craft.
We’ll stop for today. Are you champing at the bit to develop your Craft and then find you an agent and go slay the world? Good! You’ve got a goal. But a goal is not a plan. Your next step should be to make yourself a roadmap for how you’re going to get from here to there — from unpublished to published.
Watch for tomorrow’s lesson, when we’ll summarize things and then figure out your career strategy: Make Your Battle Plan To Get Published!
Randy Ingermanson, Ph.D.