The Way of the Word

22. March 2010

It’s Not What You Know

Filed under: Commentary,general,Uncategorized — jensaltmann @ 09:53

If there is one thing that I have learned in the last 40 years (although the realization came far too late to do me any good), it’s that it doesn’t matter what you can do, or how well you do it.

It’s who you know.

That’s it. Really.

Don’t believe me? Read the advice of any editor or established creator in the business of writing or comics. They all say the same thing: attend cons. Get to know the editors. Get them to know you. Make sure that they will recognize your name, and associate it with something positive. And then, only then, start pitching, and they will pay attention.

Unless you do that, you can forget about selling them your stuff, or having a career. It doesn’t matter how good you are, they won’t pay attention. They won’t care.

Oh, I’ll grant you that even if you know the editors, you still have to have an edge over all the others who know those editors and pitch stuff. You’ll still have to convince them that giving you work is more profitable for them than giving all the other guys work.

Alternately, it helps if your family is connected. To look back at my Generation Swipe post, does anyone really think that Nick Simmons or Helene Hegemann would have gotten that far if not for their respective fathers?

If you’re not connected, then it doesn’t matter how good you are. Nobody will give you the time of day. If you’re connected, you’ll still need to prove yourself, but unless you’re connected you won’t even get the chance to prove yourself.

Make no mistake, though, this isn’t confined to the publishing or movie industries. It’s all over. It’s everywhere. You think the HR person is more likely to hire you over someone who knows someone at the company, just because you’re better? Forget it.

That is, I believe, the mistake I made in my life. I believed that if I worked hard, if I applied myself, it would make a difference. I believed that hard work would get me ahead.

I now know that I was wrong. It’s too late for me to correct that mistake. But with this, I can at least help you avoid making the same mistake.

It’s not what you can do. It’s who you know. Never mind what you aspire to, that is the secret to success. If you’re not connected, you will fail.

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