Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Getting Published Is All That Matters - Not always...

I frequently hear this comment come up from an author when I describe some authors not wanting to see their story with Publisher XYZ. Even though the story would fit at that house, the writer is simply against it. I don't want to get into that discussion today, but instead, to focus on the comment the other writers say. When they hear this, they say, "Shoot, I would take that. In the end, getting published is all that matters." While I do agree with this partially, I do have to say, that taking that approach has often led writers into situations that are far from satisfactory. In fact, I do attribute the massive increase in self-publishing and e-printing opportunities available to authors.

Many writers are so eager to be published that they will jump at any chance they have of "seeing that book in print" and to be able to claim "I am published." What is unfortunate, is that these authors have really sold themselves short. They had a dream and they had a goal and, in the interest of expediency, they rushed to a less than satisfactory approach.

I have said this time and time again, but writing is not an overnight activity. Success simply doesn't happen overnight. Talk to numerous writers and they will tell you their first book never sold and would likely never sell. In fact, for many, they were on books in the double digits before they had their first sale. What you will find is that these are the authors with the staying power and will still be publishing. Those that rushed into the business, taking those "short cuts" will often give the business up.

Now don't get me wrong. I am not saying that writers have to take the traditional approach to writing. If you are writing now and your goal is to only self-publish, or simply "print" your book with anyone who will take it, then go with it. That's fine by me and I honestly don't think anyone will argue with you. With that said, if that isn't your goal, my question to you is, "Why are you jumping on this other opportunity if it isn't what you want?"

Yes, I know many of you have found some great excuses and justifications for this decision. The biggest one I see is, "but it will get my name out there" or "but I'm building my readership." Maybe. Maybe not. But the bigger question is whether or not this move is hurting your chances of doing what you really wanted to do. Will those traditional publishers, the ones you said you wanted to work with, really take you seriously? You might want to check on that. Will your move into this other business turn you off because this isn't what you wanted? I have talked to far too many authors who have really gotten a bad taste in their mouth from taking that approach.

The point is simple. Determine your goal. Stick to your goal. And most importantly, quit justifying a short-cut that really isn't what you wanted to do in the first place.



  1. I am determined to be traditionally published. I want to feel the cool cover under my palms, smell the fresh ink on actual pages.

    I have a goal, and I'm sticking to it.

    Thanks for the encouragement.

  2. It's just like you're stating. Many are so eager to get published and having such a hard time with it that they turn to self-pub. For some new writers it's an act of desperation. I have read of authors who have gone self-pub on their first book and are still having a difficult time finding an agent for their second, but there are also plenty of self-pubbers that are doing really well. I'm opting for traditional.

  3. It doesn't have to be a choice between self-publishing and traditional publishing.

    The dream often becomes a nightmare when a writer discovers that they have made a very bad mistake in choosing their publisher.

    Some years back, a friend decided to be published by a small press that many of her closest writing friends knew was a scam of the worst type. Some had fallen victim to this publisher so they weren't just making a wild guess.

    Rather than lose the illusion of that dream of being published, the writer broke off connection with those who knew better and signed with the publisher.

    Recently, she got back in touch with this group and told them they were right, and her dream had been so totally destroyed that she could no longer write.

    Even so-called legitimate publishers can be nightmares. Any number of authors were privately warning away newer authors from Dorchester for years before it imploded. A pity more didn't get that warning.

  4. Scott,

    I would love to have you answer the question you posed -

    "Will those traditional publishers, the ones you said you wanted to work with, really take you seriously?"

    What is the answer to that?

  5. One of the best pieces of writing advice I ever got was: pick something and don't waffle. Don't hem and haw. Don't mull it over to death. Just do it.
    (I'd sort of heard this from a few other people, but for some reason when I heard it this time it struck and nerve and hit home.)
    I think we have to make a decision and stop apologizing for it (to others, or more importantly, to ourselves). At the same time, though, we have to be open to opportunities. Mistakes and missteps often lead to great discoveries or great art.

  6. Thank you for this post. I'm part of an online writers forum where several members have been very heavily pushing self-publishing. I was almost starting to wonder whether there was something wrong with me as I seem to be the only person who isn't jumping on the self-publishing cart.