November 26th, 2006
Worth a Look

I thought these two sites were worth a look, since their subjects coincide with a couple of earlier blog entries I’ve made about publishing before you’re ready.

16 comments to “Worth a Look”

  1. Interesting reading for sure! It’s awful but true, you have to be willing to put in the work for no reward beyond the work itself in the beginning. And even past the beginning, there are no guarantees.

  2. Charli, I just think it’s something worth bearing in mind. I know it’s hard given the nature of publishing these days (and our want/need it now cultural mentality), but it’s important to remember.

  3. Ugh, what painfully true posts. (I’m working on mss. numbers 9, 10 and 11…will these be the ones that are finally good enough to sell???) Also, it’s always hard for me when I talk with someone who’s just starting out, on their first or second completed ms., and is saying how excited they are to start querying agents or editors. Now, I have known some who sold their first or second ms. (hmm…maybe even you, Jordan?? 😉 ). But most of us don’t. It’s a long, hard slog toward skill and publication. But the point is the process itself, right?

    Yeah, I’ll keep telling myself that. 🙂

  4. Catherine, I did sell my second ‘completed’ manuscript. I had a LOT of false starts…and have the file folders to prove it. (wg) That said, I sold before I was ‘mentally’ ready for it. I was still dabbling with various genres (not much has changed there) and wasn’t sure (still not) where my voice fit the best.

  5. O-kayyy…interesting posts, points well made. And yes, there are delusional people who think they can sit down over a few weekends and churn out something that’ll sell immediately. And yes, it’s a good idea to get as much experience and practice writing as possible before receiving “the call”.

    Part of the problem, of course, is that some people DO sell those very first manuscripts, and some people snare an agent on their first try, etc. It hits people who HAVE done their multiple mss pretty hard to see Joe Schmoe’s first book going to auction when they can’t even get a nibble from The Big Machine. And it ISN’T all about how well you write, or how much you’ve written, or how hard you’ve tried. So many other factors come into play.

    So yes, I agree that the vanity press thing isn’t likely to get you where you want to go. But I also know a lot of people who write very well and can’t get that foot in the door, so I can also understand the desperation.

    Tough business.

  6. I know, for me at least, the reward in the beginning was the satisifaction of completing something, and the joy in/of storytelling. I’ve been mulling on this, trying to figure out what changed. Still not sure yet. =)

    Raine’s right…it must count for someone or maybe talent is in the eye of the beholder, but it doesn’t count for enough IMO.

  7. Raine, You’re absolutely right. There is no logical progression in the publishing industry. I’ve seen the auctions, the first books hit out of the park, the agents picking up clients immediately after a query. Publishing is like lightning strikes, you never know where they’re going to hit.

    I made a conscious decision to approach e-publishing first because I wanted to get paid as I was learning. It doesn’t work for everyone. I still think it’s important not to get so discouraged that you feel the need to pay your way into publishing. Yes, it has worked for a small few, but for most, it does nothing. I understand the frustration. I REALLY do. That just doesn’t ‘fix’ it.

  8. Cece, I think talent will only keep you publishing. I don’t think it’ll ‘get’ you published. I started out the same way as you, excited that I’d actually finished a book. Didn’t know if I could do it, before I wrote ‘THE END’. I believe the internet with its instant access to new sales is what changed my joy into frustration.

  9. Jordan your point on talent may be what I’m missing =) I think you’re right–or at least have a darned good point. The ‘net is definitely a double edged sword!

  10. Cece, The same adage holds true in music. I knew a tremendous amount of extremely talented musicians and singers in L.A. They weren’t the ones getting recording contracts. They weren’t even the ones working steadily. Talent truly had little to do with who made it and who didn’t out there. The only thing they all had in common was that they all worked their asses off.

  11. One thing I notice lately, as publishing and communications in genearl go through an evolutionary growth process is the growing pains experienced by folks who take a more traditional path. I am not a proponent of complete vanity press publishing, however, I have noticed many of the ‘I paid my dues so should you’ crowd tend to lump in small press along with vanity. And, to point, the vagaries of publishing don’t meen unpublished = crapola. I have read so much trash I couldn’t even finish this last year that was published it’s almost laughable. I don’t think that just because you suffered 13 ms before publication, #14 was so much better. There are elements of validity to buildling craft and process, but it’s not uniform for everyone, no magic must write this number of books before you’re ‘publishable’, and there’s enough randomness to publishing that skill and craft are sometimes negated. I also do believe that there’s an element to the communication revolution that terrifies some established writers and publishers and rather than examine those feelings and what might generate them, they lash out and attempt to sterotype, further stratify and categorize, and subsequently marginalize. I think it’s up to us individually to seek our own ratification of our art, rather than use something as subjective as the taste of a single editor amongst many as the be all and end all sign that we have finally ‘arrived.’ If we do that exclusively as our goal marker, many of us may get discouraged far too soon into the process.

  12. Yes, it’s hard work and no, you can’t be prepared for how much of your heart and soul go into something you have to send out into the world. And you really have no idea how much it hurts when others don’t love it the way you do. And people don’t know how hard it is because everyone who’s an author has heard, “oh I’m going to write a book someday” from some relative or old co-worker who tosses it out like what we do is so easy they can’t be bothered to spend the time.

    There’s a lot of important learning that happens through rejection and then getting up and trying again and again and sure, when it finally happens, you’re freaking overjoyed. But you know, I enjoy and appreciate it when I don’t get rejected too, LOL.

    At the same time, I’m not one for the idea that if you don’t ache for something and go through extreme pain for it, you don’t deserve or appreciate success. It seems like hazing and I don’t like that either.

    I’ve been thinking on this for a while now (especially in the last few months). It’s not failure that’s made me a better writer, it’s going through the process again and again – writing, being critted, revision and then editing for final release.

    Sometimes it’s just the “I will sell a manuscript or die trying” that gets me through because man, this industry makes my cry more than law school ever did (and that says a lot, LOL)

  13. Ursula, Absolutely fabulous points. I think both posts are referring to self-publishing, but I do see areas where they stray into grouping everything but N.Y. into one pile. Much of this is due to lack of information. I think (and this is my interpretation) that they were both talking more about the attitude of ‘I’ve finished my first book, therefore I should be published’, than anything else. Of course, I could be wrong. *g*

  14. Lauren, ***It’s not failure that’s made me a better writer, it’s going through the process again and again – writing, being critted, revision and then editing for final release.***

    Very well put. I think that’s what has taught me the most, too. There is no magic bullet, number or book. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it don’t. Sucks, but true. Don’t cry. (((Hugs)))

  15. I think the best attributes you can have in many areas of this business are drive and tenacity. Do you want it bad enough?

  16. Patrice, I think drive and tenacity are definitely attributes you need for this business. I just don’t think that will necessarily guarantee success. :/