How a Joke on a Music Forum Got me a Book Deal

It’s what you know… and it’s also who you know.

Craig Weldon
Jan 14, 2020 · 5 min read
Photo by Hans Vivek on Unsplash

You are looking to get a book deal. And it just isn’t working out. It could be because your writing isn’t very good — and, looking back on your early attempts, you realise that certainly was the case once. But ten novels later, you’re ready.

You’ve sent out hundreds of proposals to agents and publishers. But still, nothing’s happening.

Something’s missing and you just can’t tell what it is.

The truth is, you probably already know what it is. So I’d like to illustrate it with examples from my own writing career.

The first book

One day the singer in a band called Kasino (think U2, but not as good), who just happened to also be a music and technology journalist, posted a message on the board:

I’ve just been commissioned to write a book on playing guitar in bands. And the publishers are looking for someone to do one on bass. Any takers?

I can’t play bass, I don’t own a bass, but I did have a stage piano and a synthesiser. I wrote back:

Shame they don’t want a book on playing keyboards!

Let me ask, said Carrie from Kasino. And replied:

Yes, they want one on keyboards as well. Here’s the contact details:

Shit. It had just been a joke. But somehow I’d just been commissioned to write a book on playing keyboards in a band!

None of this would have happened if I hadn’t been acquainted with Carrie from Kasino.

It’s what you know — and it’s also who you know.

The second book

I was working shifts and had lots of free time during the day, so I did what she suggested. It took a year to write. A year to self-edit. Then a year to find a publisher.

I got a copy of the Writers & Artists Yearbook and sent my pitch to every publisher in my subject area.

Nobody was interested. Some never replied at all. One did say yes, we like the concept, but we’ve already commissioned someone else to do something similar.

But I was telling people I knew about my struggles to find a publisher. And my boss Fiona had a suggestion.

She had worked as a manger at a bookstore in her previous job and knew publishers who weren’t even in the Writers Yearbook. And she suggested I write to someone I’d never heard of called Sandstone Press.

They wanted to take a chance on my book!

None of this would have happened if I hadn’t been acquainted with Fiona, my boss.

It’s what you know — and it’s also who you know.

The outdoor articles

They weren’t interested!

And that was it until I got a message from one magazine editor asking me to write for her. Bob Davidson, owner of Sandstone Press, had pestered her to give me a shot.

None of this would have happened if I hadn’t done work for Bob of Sandstone Press.

It’s what you know — and it’s also who you know.

What you can do

Being halfway competent at writing is just the start. It’s a very important start — nobody will take a chance on you if they think your work isn’t good enough. So the old saying ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know,’ needs to be modified.

It’s both what you know, and who you know.

And if you’ve got the first part of the equation right, then there’s people out there you need to know in order to move you to the next stage. That’s just a fact. You can either be bitter because it hasn’t happened for you yet when other people seem to get opportunities falling in their laps, or you can do something about it.

So this is what I try to do to help make it happen:

1. Stay open to new contacts.

2. Let people know what you are looking for.

3. Don’t be an asshole.

4. Be generous.

5. Be *lucky*.

Ascent Publication

Strive for happier.

Craig Weldon

Written by

Former editor, ROV pilot, recording studio owner, consultant, temp and casual labourer. Currently writing my fourth book. Hello.

Ascent Publication

Strive for happier. Join a community of storytellers documenting the climb to happiness and fulfillment.

Craig Weldon

Written by

Former editor, ROV pilot, recording studio owner, consultant, temp and casual labourer. Currently writing my fourth book. Hello.

Ascent Publication

Strive for happier. Join a community of storytellers documenting the climb to happiness and fulfillment.

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