Author's Notes| 5 Questions, I Should Have asked Myself When I first Started Publishing
I have always been a writer. I have been writing since I can remember, and at this point in my life it’s been a happy minute. It wasn’t until I was grown however that I started publishing. When I say grown I mean I was in my late twenties. There isn’t going to be a long tirade about why I didn’t. I just didn’t know how to get published. Also, when I was younger sending your manuscript was a lot more expensive and nerve-wracking. You had to print your manuscript and pray you didn’t make any mistakes because you would be printing those mistakes. Then you had to pay postage for your 300 plus pages, and then wait for snail mail to get back to you with a response. Lets not even get into the conversation about putting your words onto a cd.
Now it’s a lot easier to get published. You can check over your mistakes, have an editor check over your mistakes, and it will cost no more than the labor and to check and the time to hit send. So it was at this time I realized I didn’t have any excuses not to send in a manuscript. I sent my story “Wicked” to a magazine named InfectiveInk. I can remember when I got the notice that I was chosen. It was the absolute best feeling in the world! So at this point, I’ve had some books published, and looking back I realize I wish I had asked myself some more questions when I got started. I write these in hope that it will help any newbies out there.
- What type of writing do you want to do? It’s easy when you start to say “I just want to write.” Yes of course you do, but what do you want to write? Do you want to write travel articles? Do you want to write romance novels, do you want to write horror? You can write all the things, but there are so many genres. In the beginning, it might be better to specialize in one area and hone your craft in that genre or type before moving on to the next one. I have a lot of writing credits in a lot of different fields. This isn’t good or bad. However when I want to go to publication and I have fifty writing credits, and I need at least twenty of those to be in romance it becomes complicated. So specialize then branch.
- What are my writing goals? Again you just want to write. But why are you writing? Are you hoping to be the next Stephen King? Is there a bright shiny Pulitzer in your future? Maybe you want to be a digital nomad and write about travel. Is sitting in coffee shops writing fanfiction all you care to do? All of these things are fine. Every one of them is a viable writing aspiration or desire. You just need to understand your reasons. Because if you start writing and you are put on a deadline to produce content when all you want to do is write poetry in flowering fields on the weekends, you are are going to be frustrated. Conversely, if you are tapping out story after story about Lord Byron and how fetching he looks in his billowy white shirt for all the world to see. Yet, no one in the world is seeing it you are going to be sad. So have a clear vision of what your end goal looks like.
- Are you dedicated enough to reach that goal? We all know that when inspiration hits it can be like wildfire. That feverish need to get the story on to paper, and the rush to strike while the iron is hot. But what about when the iron is tepid or even cold? Those days when the only way you’ll be able to write is five in the morning when it’s cold and your bed is warm? If you want to get published then you’re going to have to work at being published. That means when you aren’t in the mood you are still writing. You can have a run of bad luck, but ultimately it is up to you o get your work published. Whether that means going through the big five or publishing yourself.
- You are prepared for criticism. Your mom loved your book, and so did your friends. That might be because they can’t write like you, so they are amazed. You are about to put your manuscript into a pool of thousands upon thousands of people who’s moms think they are the next Octavia Butler. Competition is steep and it is amongst a group of people from all over the world. Editors do not have time to coddle your feelings or let you down easy. Of course, that’s assuming you don’t get a polite rejection form letter. Editors taking the time to tell you how your story could be better is is not common, and usually indicates that it could be better. There are horrible editors out there to be sure, but they are few and far between. You are going to have to grow a thick skin, because even if your editors love it your world wide audience may not. They also will not have any problem with letting you know exactly what they don’t like about it. So, brace yourself.
- Do you understand that there is no perfect author or story? Writing is a life long pursuit. It is not a spit out fifty books perfectly each time ordeal. You will need to become a life long learner. Take writing classes, join associations, fellowship with other writers. Find a collective or group that is also writing. The inspiration and friendship that can come from being in a circle of writers are unparalleled. I am part of a group that meets every other Friday at 8:30 online called The Write Talk, and we have guest authors come in and talk about the art of writing and publishing. I have gotten so much done, and so much accomplished going to those online meetups. This is important especially if you feel that you don’t have any support when writing. They can be your support and can share tips and also places to publish that you might not have come across otherwise. They will also hold you accountable which is worth its weight in gold.
What are your writing goals? How do you picture yourself when you think of yourself as a published writer? What steps are you already taking? Comment below and let me know! I’d love to hear what other questions you have asked yourself or thought you’ve had since you published.