Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Joys of Being a Pre-Published Author

So I ended 2013 on a kind of a downer.  Not too long after, my good buddy Kyle wrote a blog post noting that a lot of new authors seem to be really in the pits about their chosen profession - that it seemed to be one giant skin-thickening, loin-girding, expectations-managing protracted flinch.

I would be lying if I said I were in a happy mental place at the moment.  But I think that has less to do with the world of publishing than the fear of losing control.  After years of working on this thing, the window of opportunity for changes and improvements is finally closing.  Soon it'll be fixed, unchangeable, all its flaws immortalized in amber, and my role will move from all-powerful author to diligent cheerleader.  The baby is going off to college, and who knows what'll happen when it gets there?

Anyway, I wrote an article a couple months back called Five Secret Advantages of the Unpublished Author.  I wanted to do something similar here.  Are you ready?

The Joys of Being a Pre-Published Author

1.  Legitimacy.

That's it.  To be clear, there's a million and one happinesses I could rattle off: receiving the ecstatic "we got one!!!" email; going out to dinner with agent and editor; dropping The Big News to friends and family one at a delicious, savory time; getting awesomesweet cover art; that first check in the mail.  But those are all fruits falling from one singular tree, called External Validation, otherwise known as My Writing is Officially Worth Something Now.

That's the gold nugget I keep in my pocket, the solid reliable center of this whole huge hurricane of insecurities and what-ifs and things completely outside my control.  Even if God visits Job-like misery upon me - even if my publisher goes broke, my agent drops me, my reviews suck, my book tanks, and my name becomes so toxic that I have to spend the rest of my life writing under a pseudonym - the fact remains that something I wrote was good enough that somebody wanted to represent it, and somebody else wanted to pay me money for it.  That is the one beautiful, permanent, no-takebacks talisman that will forever shield me from the insidious brain-spiders of doubt.

And man - for all of you guys who are striving on the traditional publishing path, let me tell you: having magic ego elf-water is AMAZING.  It is holy and potent and lasting, and I so hope that you will pursue your craft and persevere through rejections and doubt to get you some. 

(And for the record, this is why you will never, ever hear me slag off self-published writers.  To put yourself straight out into the world without needing someone else's prior approval, to sustain yourself on faith in your own ability - on the self-esteem equivalent of photosynthesis! - is a feat more amazing than I ever had the guts to attempt.)

Anyway - keep at it, fictioneers, regardless of your chosen form or flavor.  It's a hell of a quest, no matter where your road takes you.

Gilthoniel, A Elbereth!


  1. You're so sweet to mention my lowly little blog in your BIG & POWERFUL blog. No wonder you're one of my fav-o-rite people.

    However, when you mentioned "I wrote an article a couple months back called Five Secret Advantages of the Unpublished Author. I wanted to do something similar here" silly me expected five joys. All I got was one (unless my browser decided not to show the other four).

    But no matter, I'm excited to follow you on your journey toward debut novelist status. You deserve all the legitimacy it entails.

    1. Haha, well, this ain't exactly the New York Times, but I am glad to help push your ship forward any way I can - I am SO EXCITED that I'm gonna get to say that I knew you before you made it big!

      And yeah, sorry about it being just the one. The thing is, there are a MILLION awesome things about being here - it's just that they all boil down to pretty much that one big thing. It's plenty big, though, with many lovely, sparkly facets!

  2. First of all, a hearty congratulations to you regarding the success of One Night In Sixes. I don't know if I'd said that or not.

    You and I are in a similar place as far as pre-published authoring goes... and yet very different.

    Having the big guns or a real publisher on your side has to be somewhat heartening indeed. I have the faith and expectations of a few dozen individuals to motivate me. It's working pretty well so far. :)

    I'd never really considered that it takes guts to put your stuff out there for the world to love or hate. But you're right. It does, whether you're indie or traditionally pubbed.
    Luckily, my ADHD keeps me from dwelling on any one thing for too long and so if the world hates my book, I'll just be like, "What book?"

    I used to look down on self pubbed or indie pubbed. "They're not good enough," is what I said. "They failed at getting published." Then something clicked, and I'm not even sure what it was. I just know I wanted to be published. Immediately. And no one was going to tell me no.
    I'm going to read "5 Secret Advantages..." now. :)

    1. "big guns OF a real publisher.."
      And this is why I hired an editor.

    2. Dude, I don't know if I've said, but I am SO freakin' stoked that you made your goal. Seriously. That took so much guts and bravery and hard work and persistence, and I am just DELIGHTED that it paid off for you! (As a matter of fact, once you get it out into the real world, I would love to come back and see if we can do an interview over on DFWcon or something - the traditional debate is always self-pub vs. traditional, but this third path you've taken here is tremendously cool and exciting, and I can't wait to hear your sage wisdom for those who might attempt such a thing themselves!)

      And thanks for the love, as always. Good to see you back on the blogosphere!

    3. I'm down for an interview! I look forward to any opportunity to offer what I've learned... And until recently in my life it's always been "Now I tried this but I strongly urge you NOT to."

  3. There's only one?

    <3 Frankles

    1. Well, basically, but it's the size of a small planet! (It's like, the Dyson Sphere of professional happiness, man. For real.)