Friday, January 20, 2012
For What It's Worth
I became serious about publishing over twenty-five years ago. I started writing at the age of nine, but it took a long time before I really got the itch to get my books published. First, I had to get an education, then I had to get a job, then I married the love of my life and popped out three daughters. Then the publishing bug hit me--and it hit full-force.
After my first rejection, I joined a professional writers' organization where I was inundated by tons of advice. I now belong to three professional writers' organizations. I've read innumerable books about writing and publishing and I have no doubt I could write my own non-fiction book about publishing--but I won't.
Writing is a solitary act. A fiction writer makes up stories and then commits her waking dream to paper. There is no right way to do it. Every writer has a different method. Some are very organized and plot everything in advance of the actual writing. Some are very unorganized--being quite free and loose about the process. There are many writers who use some of each system. It doesn't matter how the writer gets the job done, but she must have a good story and there should be no grammatical errors.
However, while a writer may believe she has written a good story, a publisher--or agent--will not necessarily agree with her. I could wallpaper a room with my rejections and so could most published writers. It can be very discouraging to get rejection after rejection. I have seen plenty of writers give up.
I did not give up. On the other hand, I did not wait to be published by one of the big publishers. I took what I could get. When e-publishing came into being, I jumped on the bandwagon. It made sense to me even if it didn't make sense to most people at the time.
So I was published, though in the opinion of those who were published by the big publishers, I was not published. I didn't care. Nevertheless, I continued to go to writing workshops and conferences. I took notes and carefully decided what was good and useful advice for me. My family and my real job came first. Of necessity, writing had to take a back seat. Nobody can do it all at the same time. There should be balance in one's life. It should not be a juggling act. I had my priorities and I stuck with them. I still do. I do not regret it at all.
Naturally, I did not make much money, but I had fun writing stories when I could squeeze in the time. Writing is a blast.
Despite the fact that smaller publishers thought my books worthy of publication, I still could not get a big publisher to give me a contract. Yes, I continued to get rejected. But I won two EPPIE Awards and was nominated for a Reviewers Choice Award.
Then e-publishing exploded. Now anyone can be published. I republished Prince of the Mist on my own. It had been originally published by New Concepts Publishing. I gave it a new cover and uploaded it. I am not getting rich, but the book is selling.
I may publish another book on my own if I believe in it and several publishers do not. Publishers have proven to be rather shortsighted when it comes to choosing books. Still, there are many advantages to having a publisher. Publishers edit books and give them covers. Of course, sometimes publishers give books really horrible, rotten covers. :^(
For what it's worth, my advice to new writers is to join a professional organization. Attend workshops and conferences. Shift through all the information and decide what is right for you. Do not abandon your husband, children, or your regular job to become famous. The odds are against you. However, if you don't give up, if you write well, and you keep your ear to the ground for breaking news in the publishing world--you can be like me.