by Lee Tidball
Ah, wouldn’t it be nice…
You’ve written your masterpiece novel, screenplay, poetry book, etc. You’ve hired a professional editor to sharpen it up and make it grammatically perfect. You’ve gotten coverage from a reliable source that’s advised you on just how to make your masterpiece ready for the market. You’ve had beta readers read it and make sure everything’s up to snuff. You’ve even paid a consultant to recommend the best places to market your work, or maybe it’s even gotten the okay from your agent or manager.
Now it’s surely only a matter of submitting and time before your work is on its way to a publisher who will publish it, a production company who will option your script (for money, of course), etc. etc.
Like I said, ah, wouldn’t it be nice… But it almost never happens like that anymore. In fact, you could have written the virtually perfect novel or screenplay, and, if it doesn’t somehow make it into the right hands, it will NEVER be anything more than a great piece of writing sitting on a desk in your house somewhere. And even if you use every method ever used to present your work to the industry—pitch events, querying agents and managers, cold-calling people, all the various ways of Internet marketing, etc.—it’s STILL a shot in the dark whether you and your masterpiece will ever see an online sale, a place on a bookstore shelf, or a movie theater near you. I know. I’ve tried all of the above—many times—and it’s like trying to knock down a mountain with a ball-peen hammer.
That’s because, as it is in so many areas, in writing, despite all the new technologies and whatnot, it’s still all about WHO you know. Writing is essentially an entertainment BUSINESS, and as in any business, people are in it to make money—at least the people who hold the keys to success. The stakes are high, and very few people are willing to go out on a limb unless it’s on the recommendation of a trusted friend or business associate. Then, suddenly everything changes. If you obtain an agent with good contacts in the publishing and/or movie industry, your chances of your work moving forward increase exponentially. If you’re friends with a publisher, ditto. If you know someone that has access to millions of dollars and loves your script, you’re more than half-way there.
If you have friends willing to get your work into the hands of their friend, the publisher of imprint X at HarperCollins, things could very well be looking up soon, assuming your work is something they’re looking for.
If you have none of these, though, you’re virtually doomed. With so much money involved, and the expectations so high, it’s just not worth the risk for so many in the publishing/movie-making industry to put their trust in a complete stranger.
So how does an aspiring writer make that elusive personal connection with “someone who is someone” to give their work a fighting chance? It’s all about networking. Here’s a few ways that I’ve built a network, and how they’ve helped me.
- I took a course. Mine was an online one in screenwriting (Screenwriting U), but there are many such for novel-writing also. Usually the teachers of such courses have websites, a social media presence, etc. where you can network with others taking the same course. With Screenwriting U, the instructor had even organized an online alumni association where collectively we could help each other along towards our own successes.
- I signed up for an online mentoring program. Again, this was for screenwriting, but there are such things available for novelists as well. Through my mentoring course, I automatically became part of my mentors’ email network of Hollywood professionals, which included everyone from new writers like me to vastly experienced stalwarts in just about every facit of the movie industry.
- I joined a local writers’ group. They meet once a month to chat and encourage each other, but by far the best part of this group is that we can read our work to each other and get truly objective feedback on it, since very few of us are what you’d call close friends.
I did all these things over the past 5-8 years. In Part Two of this post, I’ll tell you a few of the results of my efforts, and how my future as a writer looks, now that I’ve made (and continue to make) them.
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – NeoGothic Horror / Thriller
Rating – R for violence & language