Who You Know or Who You Are?

Photo: Mike Ehret

Michael Ehret

Some people think of publishing as an “It’s who you know” industry. And it often works that way.

But in reality it’s not “who you know” as much as “who you are.”

You think, “I’m no one. I’m not published. I’m still adding to my (growing) file of rejections.” Or: “I’m no one. My first book didn’t do well and I can’t even get an agent to return my calls.” Or even: “Sure my series sold well, but I’m still waiting for that big break that will make me the next Jerry B. Jenkins.”

Whatever goal you have yet to accomplish, do you feel you’re constantly dodging the next obstacle? Maybe you see yourself as George Jetson, walking his dog on that moving sidewalk outside his space bungalow—walking, walking, walking—but never getting anywhere.

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Maybe it’s who you are. Are you the kind of writer who:

  • Bristles when someone suggests edits you don’t like?
  • Doesn’t use standard manuscript formatting?
  • Never follows up when an editor requests your proposal—with changes?
  • Always asks for deadline extensions?
  • Pushes ahead of others to get the seat at the editor’s side at a conference meal?
  • Brings every conversation back to you and your project?
  • Believes you know it all, but no one sees your brilliance?

If you see any of these traits in yourself, can you see how you are sabotaging yourself? What changes can you make to be the kind of writer editors want to work with?

Editors prefer writers who are partners in the process—writers who have a long-term vision not just for their own careers, but for where their work fits into the larger picture.

Be that writer and you’ll come to know and be known by the right people.

Michael Ehret has written for newspapers and for other print and online outlets. He edited several nonfiction books, was the senior editor for a faith-based financial services and insurance organization, and is the ezine editor for a national Christian fiction writer’s organization. He joined the Guild staff in August.


  1. says

    Thank you Michael. As a ‘newbie’ (although I may not always like the qualifier) I am learning the best part of that word, as you reflected in your post, is BE. My husband asked me recently, “What are you going to do if your book is not published?” “Keep writing,” I said. “Keep working on making the manuscript better. Keep learning and writing something new and relevant based on what God is teaching me.” No matter who I know or how small my platform, and in comparison to the likes of Jerry Jenkins, mine is atom-like, I want to allow the Holy Spirit to use me. When I remember and allow God to be responsible for the results, I rid myself of anxiety and am free to write. When I train with a teachable spirit, then I am free to be transformed. I am free to BE His instrument in my sphere of influence, while doing the thing I love–writing. I think I just wrote myself a pep-talk for a response. Thanks for your contribution to CWG. I love being part of this community.

    • Michael Ehret says


      Right you are! Writers write. But writers also continue to learn and continue to sharpen their skills.

      We can never learn all there is to know about this profession. But I really love your line: “When I train with a teachable spirit, then I am free to be transformed.”

      Puts me in mind of Romans 12:2, roughly: “Be not conformed to the ways of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

      Keep that teachable spirit!

    • says

      I agree Michael. I always have to get the stinking thinking out of my head so that I can create something that looks and feels like me (at my best).

      I can’t help or inform anybody when I think that I am nobody.

      PS – I love the new website look!

  2. Nikki Niswonger says

    I agree. How can we truely observe the lessons God has convicted us to write about if we can’t step outside our own perspectives or ambitions long enough to see, as Michael said, how our work fits into a larger picture? I like the idea of a partnership. Thanks for posting this.

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