I’m not only self-published but also traditionally published, which for me (and, I hear tell, for many authors) has turned out to be much of the same work as self-publishing but with less control over important details like book pricing. I recently read a writer’s blog post on which one commenter was venting her understandable frustration over the publishing process, as she wanted to get her work out there but was short on funds and resources for editing, cover design, and the like. It sounded as if she was on the verge of throwing in the towel, and I know she’s not the only writer around who has faced similar issues.
“How many rejections should I take from traditional publishing houses before I find and pull together other resources to go a different route?”
“How many years should it take to determine whether my writing career is successful, not-so-successful but still promising, or if it’s pretty much a waste of time?”
“There’s an ever-increasing number of how-to’s for publishing popping up all over the place, and some of them contradict each other on key points. How long will it take to determine if the plan I’m going with just needs more time to kick in, or if I’ve gone with the wrong plan?”
I can see why an untold number of authors have stuffed their manuscripts into drawers and have gone on about their business—other business, besides writing.
I know what it feels like to have your work rejected by acquisitions editors. I know what it feels like to have issues with your publisher. I know what it feels like to be low on publishing funds. And it only takes a little look through history and a quick search on Google to see that many an author has been through all of this.
Yet, I determined early on specifically why it is that I write, and it’s important for every writer to do the same.
I am of the firm belief that I wouldn’t have any words to share if no one else in the world would need them. There is a demand somewhere, in space and time, for my supply. Other authors’ literature has done so much for me, and my literature will in turn do much for the individuals who need it. As long as I have vital words to share, there must be a way for my words to get out there.
No Pulitzer Prizes, Nobel Prizes, or New York Times bestsellers as of yet, here. No tours of fame or colossal fortunes made. I’m not counting myself out for any of those things, to be sure, but prizes, fame, and fortune have never been my supreme goals, where my writing is concerned. I write because I honestly believe that’s what I’m in this universe to do, and my aspiration is for my words to help people: bringing hope, changing minds, expanding imagination, providing entertainment, and saving lives, all of which other authors’ books have done for me.
It used to bother me to get “hurrahs” and pats on the back from people for the way I’ve diligently pursued writing when those people don’t accordingly procure any of my books, or others procure them with little to no intention of actually reading them. It was upsetting because I don’t write to be pat on the back. I don’t write to merely sell books. I write to be read. So, of course, I had to remind myself that things take time, and people’s minds and finances are in different places. Some folks will get or read my books when they can, and other folks, as much as I may love them and they may love me, may never be all that interested in my books because those individuals are simply not my audience, and they don’t have to be. In one way or another, my words do and will get to my true audience: the people who are meant to read or hear and be helped by what I have to say. That’s that.
Moreover, as I aspire to help people, if I’m honest with myself, I realize that I’ve already been doing that. Whenever someone reads a book or two of mine and lets me know what it’s done for them, I can check that off: “Mission accomplished.” Added to that, I’ve experienced so much in my literature for myself: pure joy and utter ecstasy that some people never find in life. In doing what I’m designed to do, I have already lived more intensely, more beautifully, and more incredibly than a number of people ever do from the time they’re born to the time they die. No one can ever take that away from me.
So, if you’re experiencing discouragement anywhere in your writing, publishing, and book business process, feel free to revisit the specific reason, or reasons, why you (the individual) write, and think twice— or thrice— before you throw in that towel. Somebody, somewhere, is going to need what you’ve written.