“You can say what you like, pass the blame I don't mind, because we both lit the match that burned the bridge.” Lifehouse
One of my favorite bands, but seriously, you can’t burn the bridges in the publishing industry. Do you know how small a world it is? What do I mean by burning a bridge?
- An author replies to an agent’s form rejection with nastiness. Burned bridge
- Not saying thank you to a beta reader. Burned bridge
- Shunning a newbie writer at a conference. Burned bridge
You never know when you might meet this agent at a conference. Or who this beta reader knows that you don’t. Or that this newbie writer might be the next [insert big name writer here]. You never know when you might have a mutual friend. Or when you might learn something. Or meet a kindred spirit. You just don’t know when your burned bridge will come back to bite you in the a**.
Better yet, how about build a bridge?
Which brings me to my real point. The power of Networking. Also, publishing is a VERY small world. A VERY, very small world.
A writer colleague of mine (who I casually banter with on twitter) knows a publisher or two. That woman I sat next to at a workshop last year? She knows my agent’s boss. The woman I just invited to speak at a conference? She publishes the exact sort of book that I write.
If you think about it, I KNOW you all can come up with six degrees (or way less, in some cases) of separation from your favorite dream agent or editor. So how do you build bridges?
- Be nice. Always. And in every possible way.
- Reach out, congratulate someone if they tweet about a success story. Commiserate if someone is down.
- Pay it forward. Go above and beyond. You never know when it’s going to come back at you.
- Interact. Participate in chat groups on twitter. Again, be nice, not troll-like.
- Go to conferences, if you can afford it. Shake hands, say hi. Share your work, but don’t be pushy. Be appropriate. Be the person you want them to remember.
- Don’t just network with the big-wigs. Say hi to the stranger sitting next to you. Reach out and shake hands with the gal on the elevator. Retweet someone’s good news.
This isn’t to say that if you do these things you’ll get an agent. Or a book deal. But anyone in business will tell you that networking is important. Being well-regarded is important. And it certainly won’t hurt your chances of getting an agent or book deal if you practice these suggestions.
This is a very small industry. The longer you’re around it, the more you’ll see it. That person you talked to on twitter will sell a book. That intern you goofed with will become next year’s rock star agent. That beta reader will get an agent and refer you. Build the bridges, don’t burn them. And then pay it forward.
But it takes time.
I’d love to hear your stories of building bridges that turned into success stories!