Hello Dear Readers,
Today’s revelation may shock some of you. It may cause a few of you to take a hard look at your own success (or lack thereof).
There is one single reason I am not published. (You may never have seen an unpublished author admit to this before, so sit down before reading.)
The answer is…
(Drum roll, please.)
Yes, the only one I can blame for my lack of publishing credentials (except for my journalism articles, that is) is myself.
It’s not the publishing industry, because I haven’t given the publishing industry the chance to refuse my work.
It’s not my agent, because I let her go two years ago, and I still haven’t gotten off my duff to retain a new one.
And this is why I grit my teeth when people tell me to go with a smaller publishing house, to go Canadian, or to e-publish. Why would I aim small when I haven’t even tried for the big leagues yet? I want to try for the big leagues. I want to exhaust every other option before I accept that the only route for me is to publish my own work. I simply don’t believe that yet, possibly because I’ve been making my living as a writer for almost twenty years. (Which seems a shockingly long time to me–it’s over half my life.)
Yes, my life is busy, but I’m the one who sets my priorities. Every time I sleep in rather than work on my rewrite, that’s my choice. Every time I choose to read someone else’s work instead of hacking away at my own, that’s my decision. Letting my freelance journalism career suck up every creative impulse and bit of time I had for years was also my choice. Same with focusing on kickboxing instead of writing last year.
I have plenty of faith in my work. It attracted a big-name agent once, and I believe it can do so again. What I don’t always have faith in is my ability to stick to that commitment once I’ve made it. I write for a living, and that means the last thing I want to do in my spare time is write fiction. But if I ever want to write fiction for my livelihood (and I do), I have to put my time where my mouth is. I have to finish those rewrites, and even more importantly, I have to get them out the door.
As much as people would like to believe e-publishing is the key to fame and fortune for writers, that’s simply not the case. But if you’ve banged your head against too many doors, and no one will let you in because your work doesn’t fit an easily saleable category, it may be the right venue for you. If you do go that route, please please PLEASE do it professionally. Get a good editor (I don’t care how well you edit your own work; if it’s your own, you are missing some mistakes–trust me on that). Make sure your cover is professionally designed. Be prepared to spend a heck of a lot of time marketing your book, because without your blood, sweat, and tears, it’s doomed to failure. For more rarely considered pitfalls of e-publishing, please see Michelle Argyle’s wonderful article on the subject. (This one is good, too.)
I’m not against e-publishing, but too many writers have put unpublished work up for sale on the Internet before it’s ready. This is starting to make it look like amateur hour, and pretty soon people will be afraid to take a chance on an author they’ve never heard of–even if the manuscript can be theirs for only 99 cents. Ninety-nine cents of crap is still crap, and crap is never a bargain.
If I have the time, I’d like to publish Lost as an e-book, only because I can’t in good faith tell agents and publishers who has already considered it. But it certainly isn’t my priority. My priority is to follow the sure-fire method of success in the writing world:
1. Write. 2. Rewrite. 3. Polish. 4. Submit. 5. Repeat.
So wish me luck! I’ll be sharing my journey on here, as always, and I’ll be hoping that you share yours as well.
The good news is: when you only have yourself to blame, you have the power to change the situation.
Why aren’t you published?