Still with me? Good!
The reason for my sudden sense of blogging clarity is that I've had a lot of people ask me the same questions recently, so I thought I'd take a few minutes today to do a little publishing mythbusting and de-bunk three of the myths I keep hearing.
(it has nothing to do with procrastinating on a difficult scene. Nope. I would NEVER. *adjusts halo*)
Okay, here goes:
Myth #1: I need someone to refer me to their agent/editor in order to get an offer of representation/book deal.
No, you don't. I PROMISE.
Are there stories out there of authors whose friend recommended them to so-and-so and it ended in a book deal? Of course. BUT, 99.999999% of the time those drafts were good enough that, had the person queried/submitted the old-fashioned way, it would've ended in the same result. (also: there are many, many stories of writers who got the golden recommendation to an agent/editor and still had it yield a rejection).
If your book is good--and right for that person and the market--it will get offers, whether you are a famous author's BFF or Jane Nobody from the slush pile. All a recommendation will really get you is a slightly faster read, which is nice--of course--but NOT worth the amount of stress and worry some writers put into the quest for networking. It still always comes down to the writing and marketability of your book. Nail that, and nothing can stop you.
Myth #2: Authors only blurb their friend's books.
Obviously, I can't speak for every single author out there, but I do know quite a lot of them and I can say in all honesty that the answer is No. And yes, I realize that a decent percentage of the time it seems like authors know/are friends with the authors who blurb them. BUT, that is not because the author is doing a favor for their friend by blurbing their book. It's because if you have enough in common with a person to be friends with them, there is a REALLY good chance you will like their book. The things that make people similar enough to be friends often translates to similar writing sensibilities.
Am I saying connections don't help? Of course not. But what I am saying is: if you don't have them, your book/career is not doomed. There are many, many blurbs that happen where the author is not friends with the other author. So don't waste precious time stressing about it--and definitely don't try and befriend authors simply to get something from them. That's just a bad idea all around.
Myth #3: Published authors don't like to talk to unpublished/un-agented authors.
Again, I can't speak for every author here, but in my experience, published authors really aren't paying attention to this. Believe me, I understand. I remember being un-agented and unpublished and nervous around authors who were. However, I learned very quickly that if I relaxed and talked to them like real people, they were just as open and friendly to me as they were to others who were published. In fact, pretty much all of the authors I'm close friends with now I met before my book deals.
And speaking personally for a second... honestly, if someone comes up to me and tells me they're a writer, it doesn't cross my mind to ask if they have an agent or a book deal. Sometimes I might ask the name of their book, but only because I'm bad with names and it would be really embarrassing if I was talking to someone whose book I've read and never realized it was them. And if I find out they don't have an agent or a book deal it doesn't make even the slightest difference in my opinion of them--and I know many authors who feel the same way.
Notice a theme here? Lots of people wondering about networking, and yes, networking IS important. But it's not the key to publishing success either.
And I'd like to wrap this up with a quick Shannon-Networking P.S.A: The best way to network is to NOT "network." Don't have an agenda when you reach out to people. Don't expect anything from them--and don't do it thinking it will advance your career. Reach out to someone because you admire their writing or enjoy them as a person. It is always always ALWAYS better to make a FRIEND than a CONNECTION. And don't let any of this take away from what really matters: improving your craft as a writer.
Phew--that was a lot of thinking! My brain is tired now! :)
Anyway, I hope you guys found this helpful and that it answered some of those questions that are sitting in my still-to-be-replied-to email label.
Also, if you have other pressing questions feel free to leave them in the comments. I'll do my best to answer them as soon as I can.