Does one need connections to get published?

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

Dear Literary Ladies,
I’ve often heard it said that “it’s who you know that matters.” Well, I don’t know anyone in the publishing world. Does that mean my work doesn’t stand a chance of being looked at seriously?

There is no easy road. “Pull” will not help. Knowing an editor, or a publisher, or a successful writer, or having a friend who knows one, will not make up for a poor manuscript. Do not write to editors, or established writers asking them to criticize your work, or for help or advice in getting your book or story published. They are unable to help you, even if they were willing to spend half their working hours trying to assist the beginner. Your work must speak for itself.

The young or beginning writer must realize that every manuscript mailed into a publishing office of any sort is carefully read by trained and competent readers. This does not mean that such readers necessarily read every word or every page of a submitted manuscript. A few paragraphs often tell the sad tale that the piece of writing is worthless. Amateur writers have been known to place a small object between pages, and finding it undisturbed, to announce triumphantly that the manuscript had not been read. But one does not need to eat a whole apple to know that it is no good.

—Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings (“If You Want to Be a Writer,” 1948)

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