Suggestions for making (and maintaining) the right professional relationships
Ask any freelancer what the scariest part of writing is, and he or she will most likely tell you, “Going it alone.” It’s a lot like traveling to an unfamiliar destination: Although you have a map, you’re unsure about what will happen as you proceed with your journey.
This fear of uncertainty is common, even for seasoned professionals. As a writer, you must remember you are not alone. We tend to think of writing as a solitary experience, but all of us strive for the same reason. We write because we cannot imagine ourselves doing anything else. Those of us who possess enough determination will eventually see our work in print.
Whether you’re in the middle of an early draft of your first manuscript or preparing to pitch your latest idea to an editor, it’s never too soon to network. The Internet is an invaluable resource for making contacts. I prefer consulting market listings, as well as perusing the websites of authors, publishers, agents, and organizations. (When relying on the Web, be sure to cross-reference any connections. You don’t want to get scammed.)
So what happens after you make contacts? It’s important to keep the lines of communication open. I’m not suggesting that you have to become friends with the people you meet, but you should make some effort to acknowledge those you’ve exchanged information with. Who knows? Maybe you’ll develop some lasting friendships along the way.
I’ve been fortunate enough to make a few writing pals over the years. Because of my inability to travel, I am forced to reach out to the literary community via the computer. I hope my options will one day increase, though I try not to dwell on this. If you want to write, you will find a way to do it.
Always remember the rule of common courtesy. When someone goes out of his or her way to do something nice for you, return the favor. Those who helped you obtain the name of an editor or some other contact might just find themselves needing similar assistance someday.
One of the reasons I enjoy writing so much is because of this give-and-take process. There’s nothing better than knowing you’ve helped someone. When you take the time to do this, you’ll appreciate the successes even more.
I know I sure do.