You’ve got to network.
Chances are you already know that. It bears repeating, though. When I say spread the word, I don’t just mean about your wonderful projects you’re working on or have completed. I mean, that’s fantastic, but unless you’re spreading the word about YOU, no one’s going to give your work a second glance. Yes, someone always wins the lottery, but it’s never you. It’s never even someone you know. So, yes, it is possible for a work to catch an agent/publisher/reader’s eye without the power of YOU and your brand. The odds are just slim.
Also, networking is thrown around on numerous blogs like this. Gurus get paid big bucks to teach you how to do it. I’ve never been to a seminar on the subject, but I can tell you there are a bunch of them out there. Here’s what I would caution you on, though: watch out for THE NEGATIVE. That’s right. THE NEGATIVE is the stigma that can result from your pestering (or perceived pestering) of someone in the field.
Everyone – that’s every agent, publisher, editor, and even other writers – know what you’re hoping to gain by “rubbing elbows” with them via conferences or twitter. So, don’t be coy. At the same time, a relationship within your networks has absolutely got to be organic, not forced. I don’t mean you must be buddy-buddy with your buddy list, just treat it like business casual. Be polite, but not patronizing. Be funny, but not tiresome. Mention your work, but don’t force it on them. Have a web presence, and throw in links. At an IRL conference? Smile. In fact, smile when you’re chatting online. Practice smiling and tweeting. It shows.
– Smilin’ Ray