Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The "You Have to Know Someone" Myth

If you've been pursuing traditional publication for a while, you've probably heard it over and over again from well-meaning friends and family: you can't break into the publishing industry unless you're well connected, unless you "know someone."

While this may be true in other arenas (screenwriting, I'm looking at you), it's definitely not the case in publishing. I have many friends who have agents and book deals. About half of them got their agents by sending a query to an agent they'd never met, just like everyone else. A few more were signed through online contests—again, by agents they'd never met or interacted with.

The rest got their agents by attending conferences where they pitched something in person. While technically this means they knew their agent before signing, anyone can go to these conferences and pitch agents. There's no mystical connection, no mysterious foot in the door.

(For a more extensive survey, check out this great post from To the Shelves.)

If you're having trouble getting an agent or publisher interested in your fiction, I can say with 100% certainty that it isn't because of your lack of connections. It's far more likely that your writing or presentation aren't up to their standards, or the subject simply isn't one in which they have interest.

Debunking the myth that you have to be connected to get published is good news for aspiring authors. If you write a good book, craft a decent query letter, and do your research on agents who might be a good fit, you have just as much of a chance of getting published as everyone else.

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