I am lover of words who desires for them to be the best they can be – whether traditionally published or self published, it’s important to do your homework.
This past year of teaching nationwide at Writers Conferences has brought some concerns to my attention. I see a lot of writers frustrated with writing and the difficulty of being published. There’s an attitude developing among authors that boils down to three things: 1) a bit of laziness 2)entitlement and 3)impatience.
The world of publishing is hard. So is acting, big business and Wall Street. And the tighter professions become, the greater the frustration by those trying to break into the scene. What I see are hundreds of authors unwilling to “wait,” or work to learn their craft before they skip over traditional publishers and self publish.
First things first. Self publishing is is the road of least resistance. What do you expect? It goes back to the old adage “If it looks easy, it probably isn’t.”
Self publishing is a wonderful tool. I’d go so far as to say a necessary tool. But it’s what we as writers do with the tool that leads to those painful experiences.
Before you self publish, get the facts. Here’s some tidbits that will help you along the way:
Sometimes the truth hurts but it needs to be said up front and with a loving heart. New writers attend conferences with the “book of a life time” – or at least it is in their eyes. Agents, editors and publishers look through the first five pages and cringe. The writing has potential but in it’s early stages it’s poor, the mechanics are raw and the plotting is broken. They smile politely and say no thank you.
Writers are offended because the editors, agents and publishers have just lost hundreds of thousands of dollars on the next New York Times Best Seller. Authors brush aside good advice and head to the nearest self publisher.
There’s a reason those agents and publishers didn’t scoop up the book and run with it. Nine times out of ten, it’s because writers have not mastered the craft of writing. It’s easy to change a flat tire on the car but when the rim is bent, the new tire won’t fit. (Okay, that’s a sad comparison, but you get the drift.) Spend time learning the craft. Know the mechanics of what makes a good story a GREAT READ! Then when publishers take a look, they raise a brow and see potential, success – best seller.
The biggest downfall for those who self publish is printing work long before it’s ready. A story can be good but unless it’s written well, it is doomed to fail. Mary Kay Ashe, founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics once said, “Much is lost but for another ounce of effort.” And how true is that? That money spent on attending writers conferences is well spent when the information on how to write is taken to heart. It takes practice to be a good writer. So practice. You owe it to your readers and you owe to the story you are destined to write.
Don’t grow impatient and feel like you “deserve” a book contract until you have spit shined the work you have done. I can’t think of one published author (and I know a lot of them new and well seasoned) who sold the first draft of their book. They understand that good stories have to be massaged into perfection and this takes time. Good authors continue to study and learn. It’s a process that never stops. Stephen King said in his book On Writing ,“Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open.”
Self publishing is a wonderful thing but new writers must realize there is no real short cut to good writing. You have to read, read, read then write, write, write. Sometimes years pass, but when the work is right – it generally sells.
All I ask of is for you to make your work the best it can be. Work smart and learn anything really worth having takes time. There is value in every word you write. Slow down. Don’t rush the process. Learn the art of writing before yo rush into self publication.
In part two, we’ll discuss the business of writing and the importance of knowing this business BEFORE you invest in self publishing.
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