So, I have been a part of the “writing world” for a couple of years now and I’ve learned a lot. While I have been writing for far longer than that, I have never been a part of the writing community or been able to utilize what they had to offer. Hell, I didn’t even know what they had to offer. If I had known the tips, tricks, support, advice, and challenges available, I might have never gone through with self-publishing Deny the Moon as fast as I did.
Okay, so I know I wouldn’t have. I would have known:
- Publishers rarely take queries for books that have been self-published.
- There is a whole society of people who willingly read your manuscripts and tell you what you are doing wrong before you make it public.
- Putting a book out with basically no online presence gives you about as much exposure as a Puritan woman’s kneecap.
- Agents are not as out-of-reach as I had earlier believed.
I have suffered the folly of many first-time authors. We are so eager to put our work out there so we can proclaim ourselves as “real authors” that we rush headlong into it without thinking about, or learning, the consequences of it.
Indeed, there is an overwhelming sense of impatience that comes along with being a writer. Especially one questing for that holy grail of accomplishments: a publishing contract. I mean, take this blog for example. If you notice, I started this series with the letter “I” instead of “A”. If that doesn’t illustrate the impatience of a writer, I don’t know what does.
Of course, it’s more likely that I just like doing things bass-ackwards.
Luckily, over the past two years, I have found my way to some incredible writing groups. 10 Minute Novelists is full of peers in various stages of writing and publishing and are always ready to lend you real-world advice or give you some support when you need it. There are many agents, editors, and publishers on Twitter that lend you unique insights, like Sara Megabow’s #10queriesin10minutes where she reads 10 submissions from a slush pile live on Twitter and explains why she might pass or accept it.
As writers, we want instant gratification. We don’t want to write a book for years and years, only to have to wait even MORE years to (hopefully) get it published. We want to see our name on a book now. With the growing acceptance of self-publishing, we are finding ourselves closer to that instant gratification, but at what price?
The markets are being flooded faster than we can keep up with. Not just that, but the ease of access means most of the floods come from novice writers whose manuscripts have no business being published yet. I should know. I am one of them! (I’ve recently pulled Deny the Moon from online shelves, but more on that in a bit.) Because it takes so long to write a decent novel, by the time we finish one traditional publishers and literary agents are sick of the influx of your genre, making all that time and effort feel wasted. Which makes us fall on self-publishing even more and, when the market starts to thin a little bit and agents start wanting those genres again, we are ineligible to submit it to them because we have already published. Impatience thwarts us again!
As I have said, I pulled my book from Amazon and Smashwords because of many reasons. After a few years being a part of the herd, I have come to the shocking understanding that my book is not the best it could be. -GASP- I know, right?
If I had known what a critique partner was before I tumbled down the rabbit hole, I would have a better grip on my craft already and would most likely be starting the query process with Deny the Moon. And I probably would have been rejected because no one cares about Werewolves right now. Eh. Win some/Lose some. However, because I was more worried about being considered a “real author”—what does that even mean?!—when I am finally done making the book the best it can be, I still won’t be able to ship it anywhere. I mean, I can try, but I know the chances are nil. It’s okay though. Lesson learned.
So if you take anything away from this rambling, let it be to slow down. I know you want to be on bookshelves. It’s okay, we all do. But take your time. Join some communities, get active on twitter, exchange some chapters with an unbiased critique partner. Do everything you can before making the leap. And if after all that you still wanna self-publish? Eh, go for it. Smashwords is a fantastic platform.