The Publishing Path: So You Want to be an Author, Part Two

Most people for whom writing is a lifelong passion, not just a hobby, have dreamed at one time or another about being an author.  There is a special kind of euphoria that comes when holding a hard copy of your book in your hand.  Or in hearing/seeing someone recommending your book to a friend.  It’s an accessible kind of magic.

Last week, I discussed good and not so good motivations for becoming an author.  If I haven’t scared you off yet (I’m sure you’re all made of sterner stuff than that), let’s go back to helping you determine whether you have what it takes or not.

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The process of publishing even just one book is long and intense.  There are rounds of editing, then querying if you are traditionally or indie publishing, and formatting if you’re self publishing.  You have to choose a cover, there is proofreading, publishing, and after that you still have to promote the book.

It’s not a walk in the park by any stretch of the imagination.  It’s more like a trek through the Amazon jungle, during which you begin to wonder if you’re even still on Earth anymore.  It takes dedication, vision, perseverance, and a huge dose of determination, as well as love, not just for your story but for the craft of writing.

But again, IT IS NOT IMPOSSIBLE.  So don’t give up the idea just yet.  Ask yourself these questions:

  • Does your passion for this story burn brightly enough that you can see the process of publishing through to the end without burning out?
  • Are you willing to edit and revise again and again until the book conveys the story you set out to tell AND measures up to a standard of good writing?
  • Are you willing to listen to the advice of more experienced people?
  • Can you take honest, helpful criticism?
  • Do you have the patience and humility to learn to tell the difference between good, helpful criticism vs. detrimental, rude opinions?
  • Can you do all of this while still maintaining the integrity of your work?

When you become a writer, you owe no responsibility to anyone else to make sure that the story is good.  (What you owe to the story or yourself is a discussion for another time.) But once you make the choice to publish a book for other people to read, you have a responsibility to them to make it the best version possible.  The self publishing and indie publishing worlds are flooded with poor quality work, simply because an author went ‘publishing happy’ and didn’t take the time to understand good writing and make sure theirs measured up.

If you still think you have what it takes, CONGRATULATIONS and I wish you the best and look forward to reading your book/s.  (One can NEVER have too many books.)

In this ongoing series, I’ll discuss various aspects of the path to publishing, including: the importance of editing, maintaining good relationships with your readers without letting them dictate what you do, hints on how to self promote without sounding arrogant, and tips on balancing your work with periods of relaxation and inspiration so that you don’t burn out.

P.S.
If you DON’T think you have what it takes to become an author, don’t break down in despair and vow to never write again!  Don’t start thinking that not planning to publish makes you a lesser writer in any way.  IT DOESN’T.  You write because you love writing, and choosing not to become an author shouldn’t change that.

Merry writing and publishing!

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