Charley Pearson

Networking Works

I’ve been to four Killer Nashville writers conferences, and one thing they always tell you is to network. Talk to other authors, even if that means prying open the clamshell and forcing your introverted psyche to trick your recalcitrant legs to walk up to a stranger, open your mouth, and ask what they’re working on. Here’s the shocker—they’re either an introvert like you, delighted someone broke the ice, or they’re an extrovert more than willing to chat. It’s a win-win.

Once you know what they’re into, and since you’ve spent a little time poring over (or pouring over, if you indulged in the wine bar) the conference agenda, you get the pleasure of suggesting a seminar or two that might be of particular value to them. (Hey, we all like to feel useful.) Sometimes you even get a way-cool ego trip when they seek you out the next day and thank you, telling you how much they got out of the session you recommended. Woo-hoo!

And then, every so often, it goes the other direction. Like during the 2016 Killer Nashville when several of the people I’d spoken with early on found me later and said that since I had a medical thriller good to go, I should look for Misty Williams of Fiery Seas Publishing because they’d heard she was in the market for such a beast.

Well, by now it was the last day, and I figured sure, what can it hurt? Where might she be? It took a bit of wandering and asking around, but eventually, someone pointed her out to me, where she was sitting with her husband. Oooh, bad time to interrupt? Is she ‘conferenced out’ and ‘pitched to death’ and just wants to relax? Well, perhaps a quick question, and be ready to leave if there’s the slightest hesitation. So I confirm her identity and mention others told me I should talk to her since I had a medical thriller that sounded like what she was interested in.

Misty perked up, invited me to sit, and listened through the ‘elevator pitch’ and a bit more besides. Even her husband followed the exchange. She invited me to make a normal submission through the Fiery Seas website, and she’d watch for it. This, of course, opened the way to mention that meeting at the start of the query letter. Always nice to have the personal touch.

Hmm, the website says they normally respond within eight weeks, and feel free to contact if not heard back in twelve. So I submitted, waited, sent a follow-up, and Misty wrote back to say SCOURGE was still under consideration. This was a good sign, since rejections are easy and ‘the longer the better,’ often enough. In this case, quite a bit longer, because Fiery Seas appeared to be bringing on more staff to support more books, from what I saw on Twitter.

Patience, patience.

And then, in the middle of a month-long vacation, way out near Glacier National Park, when I wasn’t even thinking about it anymore, here comes an email with a contract offer. Zounds!

I got to speak with Misty again at the 2017 Killer Nashville conference, and we got the ball rolling toward the formal announcement. Now SCOURGE is due to release on August 14, in time for Killer Nashville 2018. And frankly, people, I really, really need to find that shrink ray I keep hearing about in movies because my head is getting way too swollen.

Anyway, bottom line, the point is crystalline. What they tell us is true. Networking helps!


Charley spent a career with the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program, primarily overseeing chemical and radiological environmental remediation after the end of the cold war, and using up his left brain in the process. Moving on to the right half, he now writes humorous, thriller, and historical material, depending on the direction of the wind. Sometimes there’s overlap. Think tornadoes.

You can visit him at www.charleypearson.com.