I am one of you.
I am also trying to get that validation, that publishing deal, the realisation of the dream.
But why is it so difficult?
We all get better the more we write and as time goes on and we start to have some success we start to believe. But we have to work so hard. Most of us are on about our 4th/5th novel really honing the craft by the time someone might give us a break. We work and work and work and still we’re not getting there. What we have to realise is how we are one of so many all bustling in a highly competitive market place. It’s not just about being good these days, it’s about standing out and parting someone’s lips into a big fat WOW. And because there is an element of subjectivity and what is wow to one person isn’t to another, it only takes one. Doesn’t matter if you have a ton of rejections, all you need is one yes … right?
But it’s easier said than done.
So many will give up at that point, but what if that break is just around the corner?
If you want it, you won’t give up.
I see a lot of manuscripts, some great, some not so great but most have the potential to be great — we are all somewhere along that continuum of development. But there are few short cuts. While self-publishing might well be seen as one way to get the work out there and I am not dissing that in any way, it can be demoralising when you sell 20 copies after months of shouting about it. Or you sell it to everyone in the world you know and it even gives you a high rating on Amazon for a while, but then you struggle to repeat that success with book number 2. Why?
Well, sadly there are too many self-published books that did not benefit from a good editor, or even if they were edited, the writer maybe wasn’t quite there yet and perhaps the book was rejected by the mainstream publishers and possibly agents, for good reason. If the first book fails to wow maybe you’re not quite there, so can you reasonably expect your readers to buy the next one?
It’s a toughie, one I wrestle with as well, do I self-publish? I have a press for a start, but I think, like many of you, we all seek validation.
I want to tell you about someone I met who did secure an agent. The agent did try to sell his novels but without success in a really crowded market place. By this time he was beginning to think it wasn’t going to happen, and I have heard many stories of people who get the agent but nothing happens after that. So he decided to self-publish by setting up his own press and moved into the eBook market. He now has over 350 downloads a day and makes about £80K a year. He has a following and writes in a popular genre. So it can happen. I might ask him to be a guest on my Blog to share some of how he did it for those that will find this interesting. But firstly I’d say to have this success you need to be a good writer. (Or you should be, sometimes books have ‘unexpected’ phenomenal success, not saying what, coughs into hankie … fifty shades of hmmm.) By this writer, I’m telling you about, securing an agent this to me says he must write pretty well. But selling his books and maintaining books sales must be the greatest validation (in most cases, coughs again at thought of certain book). And you have to market yourself and keep going.
But these successes are few and far between, but at least the opportunity is there.
I thought I would also talk about some of the online crit sites. I won’t name any specifically, but I have to say one thing — these can be great but some of them work so you only receive a crit if you crit for other people (fair enough, right?) however, and this is not true for all, if you ever fall into this (as I know many who have) you not only find a lot of very badly written material (not all, I must stress! I know some will be fantastic!), but you also have to think about who is critting you. I know some people who showed me crits for the same piece, some giving completely differing and sometimes wrong advice (by this I mean, why not slip into another character’s head mid scene … no!) Or grammar rules being given that are blatantly wrong … some things you can put down to subjectivity sure, but how much of this advice is heeded and is it not hindering? All I’d say, like anything is act with caution.
But what has emerged is how much work is out there and what you have to compete with; some great, a lot not so great … but we are all on a journey, we are all seeking WOW.
And no matter what your route, all I can say (stuck record syndrome) is keep going and keep growing and keep glowing … you will get there.
Heed advice wisely.
Above all …
All it takes is One Voice