Network your Way to Writerly Success!! 

Julie Benesh

Like with everything else, writing is far less about what you know than WHO you manage to startle into submission. So sharpen those writing implements and let's go!


          1. Prioritize. You are likely spending way too much time writing. Use the "80-20 rule," For every 20 words, you  write, send out 80 "aspirational" query letters. That will keep you motivated and on track. And don’t waste energy writing the letters--templates are available (for a nominal fee--see my website), and it's safest to keep it generic at this point, anyway, at least until you have a “piece” of “writing” to, you know, write about.


          2. Get out there! No writer ever became successful by sitting at home… writing. There are so many literary events just waiting for you to showcase your potential authordom. The problem is, until you are “established,” they won’t be asking you to keynote. It’s one of those frustrating “chicken-egg” situations, (to coin a writerly phrase). That means you must learn to a) hijack readings (e.g., simply muscle your way to the stage just before the applause dies out) and b) stowaway at those pricey conferences (remember, cater-waiter jobs have high turnover and literary gatekeepers love to eat and drink). 


          3. Once you are in the door, you need to stand out in the crowd (to coin some more writerly phrases). You may never be as powerfully athletic as Joyce Carol Oates, or even as smooth and hairless as Stephen King. But you must have some kind of eccentric charm you can exploit for the cause. Think back to your grade school talent show or your most uncomfortable medical exam. Dig deep! Or, if you must, take some of that wasted “writing” time and teach yourself to hacky-sack with bookends or something equally literary.


          4. Once you get hacking, what’s a writer without a line—get it? Master the art of "negging." When you do meet an eligible editor or agent, make a witty comment deprecating a recent publication, one of their so-called authors, or their hairstyle or lack thereof. It works great for picking up chicks and it'll also get you published! (Join my exclusive Neg-a-Day mailing list –see my website for information.) 


          5. Speaking of meat markets, a picture is worth a thousand words, so invest in a professional headshot. Of your good-looking cousin, I mean. If your cousin is not quite camera-ready, you may think you can just snag something off the web, but most headshots lack the necessary cupped hands and soulful, faraway expression in the eyes. (See my exclusive website offer for a helpfully curated collection of a full range of genres-- feel free to just photoshop your own best feature onto any one of them like a B+-list parent cheating a sub-Ivy Admissions counselor.)



          6. Also, spend the money, and further prove your dedication by risking physical harm, to 3-D print yourself (or your cousin) for those busy days, nights and weeks when Literary Events are occurring and you can't be everywhere in person at once. If your insurance won’t cover this procedure, a limited edition of Literary Mannequins is also available on my website.


          7. Consider Artificial Intelligence to take your 3D game to the Next Level. Program in your fav negs, or the whole 365! (You know where to find those! On my website, I mean.)


          8. Follow up! Now that you (or your 3D image, mannequin, or robot) are everywhere you need to be looking good and talking down, you need to follow up to make that dazzling first impression last! Create a set of email responses and robo-calls designed to never, ever let them forget about you. Consider a clever “Don’t You forget About Me” GIF! (Other equally sophisticated and nuanced ideas on my website, or for a nominal fee we can customize something just for you!)

          9.  Whatever you or your …er, team…do, always remember, it’s not about you and what you want and those editors an agents doing a favor for you. It’s all about what you can do for them-- so you better let them know who’s boss! 


          10. Did I mention I have a website? You should maybe get a website. See my website and join my mailing list!


To summarize: It’s never about the writing, so knock it off. Spam is delicious. Hijack the competition. Cultivate ubiquity and eccentricity. Exploit cousins and robots. Remember, it’s about covering up our bland social awkwardness with a dash of obnoxiousness, so we got this! Always judge an author by their website. Visit my website.

Julie Benesh has been published in Tin House Magazine, Bestial Noise: A Tin House Fiction Reader, Crab Orchard Review, Florida Review, Gulf Stream, Berkeley Fiction Review, Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, Bridge, Green Briar Review, and other places. Julie earned an MFA in fiction from Warren Wilson College, lives in Chicago, and has a day job as a professor and administrator at a school of psychology.