Instead of spending your precious time explaining why I pursued publishing the stories of the characters in my head, I will illustrate five points that show what publishing is not. I hope they will help you decide if diving into an ever changing industry is the right choice for you. I promise; this is a pep talk.
First, publishing is not for incomplete novels.
Publishing is all about completion. If you do not have a complete novel then what is there to publish? You must write. And to do this you must banish all the reasons in your head that prevent you from sitting down in front of your laptop. “I’m too busy.” “Work is crazy.” “Life happens.” I’m not saying you need to come up with a novel in a day.
One sentence. One paragraph. One page. One chapter. These are doable lengths on a daily basis that will, when put together, eventually lead to a completed novel. And a great sense of accomplishment. Time is not the issue. Motivation is. Determination is. Because when there something you really want to do nothing short of the end of the world can stop you.
Second, publishing is not for those afraid of rejection.
Let’s face it, rejection sucks. It’s probably one of the worst things you will encounter as a writer. Believe it or not, writing and finishing your novel is actually the easiest part. If seeing your novel published is your dream, then be prepared for rejection. Quite a lot of it. Don’t compare yourself to writers who seemed to magically gain fame and fortune because at some point they were rejected too.
If writing and being published is really something you see yourself doing then you will eventually hold a print/ecopy of your work in your hands. Stick to the goals you have set for yourself, no matter the kind of opposition you face along the way. Don’t be afraid to take detours. As long as you know your destination, you will get to where you’ll need to be regardless of the road you took to get there.
Third, publishing is not for the impatient.
No matter the path you choose, whether it’s traditional publishing or self-publishing, these things still take time. Traditional publishing takes about a year to two from submission, acceptance, editing, and the finished product. Sometimes even longer. Self-publishing is faster, but if you don’t take the time to find an editor who will help you polish your work, someone to format your manuscript so it follows standard digital and print platforms, and a cover artist, you will end up releasing an inferior product that might turn off readers. Once you lose reader trust it’s difficult to gain back.
Taking the traditional road means you won’t have to obsess over type-setting, page dimensions, purchasing ISBNs, and cover art. That is all provided by your publisher. All you need to do is focus on the most important part: the writing. So patience is key.
If you’re more inclined to take charge, you still need patience to make sure your novel is indeed ready for the real world. You want to make your baby look as presentable as possible, right? The last thing you want is a one star review all because of typos or bad formatting.
Just remember, things might get overwhelming along the way, but everything is doable. Just be patient and take things a step at a time. Less mistakes means more chances of success and readers following you onto your next book.
Fourth, publishing is not for quitters.
There will be moments when you will ask yourself, “Is this worth it?” There will even be moments when all you want to do is stop and walk away. Your darkest hour as a writer will be the truest test of your determination to get published. The urge to quit is powerful, even within the most successful of us.
Sometimes a character is being stubborn. Or a story isn’t working. Or reviewers hated your last book. On and on the reasons to quit will come. Sadly, there is no hard and fast rule that I can give you to keep you on the path you have begun.
If you’ve ever played a sport, this is where your coach will tell you to play through the pain. This is when you have to suck it up and keep going. Quitting is like that stitch on your side that you must learn to breathe through until it goes away. Quitting what separates the success stories from the horror stories. And believe me, there are a lot of them out there. You are the only one with the will to continue. If writing and getting published is really what you want then there’s no such thing as quitting in your vocabulary.
Lastly, publishing is not for those chasing trends.
One of the most important things to remember as a writer is originality. But, you may ask, “What is original in this world?” It’s definitely not chasing a trend. Remember, the reason why there is a trend is because someone was original enough to start it in the first place and everyone just copied what was already there.
Do you want to copy someone or do you want to carve your own niche in this world? As a writer you have your own ideas. These ideas are original to you. Sure, you want to write a boy meets girl story. What’s original about that? It’s the scenes you will put your characters in that will bring originality to your work. The conflict. The twists. Your creativity. All experiences are different. Falling in love is different to every person. Write what you know, not what someone tells you is popular at the moment.
Because here is the secret of a trend: it’s no longer relevant the moment it is discovered. So chasing it is like a cat running in circles after a red dot. She will never catch the dot. You write because you have a story in your head that you are dying to tell. Stick with that mindset and chasing trends won’t be an issue at all.
As a published author, I have experienced each and every point I have discussed in this post. I’ve had to convince myself to keep writing countless times. There were moments when reading another rejection letter made me want to pull my hair out. I’ve had to physically stop myself from writing an email asking what would happen next. I wanted to quit so many times it’s not even funny. And I’ve been a trend chaser too.
Every time I ran into a wall what kept me going was the thought that I love what I am doing. That I cannot see myself doing anything else. Being a writer is a calling. You can’t just say I want to write. You have to actually do it. Just like wanting to be a doctor. You have to actually study.
If after reading this post that passion for the written word is still burning bright inside of you then I can personally guarantee that you will get published. Maybe not tomorrow. Maybe not next week. But all the steps it took to get there will be worth it once you have the finished product in your hands and you begin receiving emails from readers letting you know how much they enjoyed reading your work.