For the next couple weeks, I’m giving serious answers to the questions in my humorous post The Top 10 Things People Say to Writers, and How You Should Respond. So when you’re tired of being snarky this will help you give some constructive–and helpful–answers to your non-writer friends and family.
On to number four!
4. I wrote a book too! Can you hook me up with your publisher?
I’ve gotten this question several times since I’ve been published, and I can tell you it always comes from someone who, while they may be a writer, has no experience with the writing industry, and has never queried any of their work before. Just like you wouldn’t ask a doctor to ‘hook you up’ with the hospital they work at or a lawyer to just give you a spot at their firm, asking a writer to give you an in with their publisher is like trying to get a job without submitting a resume or doing an interview first. Sure, you can put in a good word for someone at most jobs, but you actually can’t do that when it comes to publishing.
Obviously, there are famous writers who have friends and family who are also published, but those people didn’t get published on the famous writer’s suggestion alone–they still had to be good at storytelling and submit their work. The famous writer might have gotten their friend to the front of the line to be seen, but the friend had to have a good product to bring to the meeting. Also, the weight of a famous writer’s suggestion is a hell of a lot heavier than the rest of us small fries. If Stephen King asks his editor to read someone’s work, you can bet your ass they’re going to set aside some time in their day, but if I try the same thing they’re going to be like “wait, we published you?”
My funny answer on the list: Absolutely. Every Saturday my publisher and I have a champagne brunch and I give them the unpolished manuscripts of all the writers I know who can’t be bothered to learn how to compose a query letter, construct a synopsis, or the take the time to look up and follow submission guidelines. My publisher loves it and waits breathlessly for this meeting every week. Plus you know, I’m their favorite author so they trust my judgement.
A more constructive answer: Publishing is a difficult business, and to get in there’s a lot of specific hoops you have to jump through. Is your manuscript polished to the best it can be? Have you written a synopsis? Can you construct a query letter? Do you have a list of prospective agents/editors to submit to, and do you understand their submission guidelines? Do you know your target audience? I can show you some resources for all these things. I can’t get you published, that’s work you have to do on your own, but I do know the mechanics of submission and I can help you out with any questions you have.
Have you ever had anybody ask you to ‘hook them up?’ How did you respond?