Way back when I was first sending off manuscripts by snail mail in the hopes of being published, I assumed that I just needed an editor to finally say “yes” to one of my manuscripts and everything would be hunky-dory. I would be a published author! I’d receive a magic key in a secret initiation ceremony, and from that day on everything I wrote would be eagerly snapped up. I’d have it made!
Er… I was a little off on that one.
What I discovered when I was finally published in ebook form in 2007 was that the “yes” was only the beginning. Here are some of my observations now that I’m grizzled veteran published writer.
- You’ll never again have the luxury of writing time like you did before you were published. A published writer needs to stay in front of readers with new material, or risk being forgotten. Publish or perish.
- Getting one editor to say yes on one manuscript does not mean that they’ll say yes to your next manuscript. Being published may open some doors; now that you’re a known commodity, you may be able to submit a proposal rather than a finished manuscript. But you can still be rejected. Trust me, I know this well. Rejection hurts just as much when you’re published as when you were trying to break in.
- I had no idea how much time I’d be spending on promotion and marketing. I thought all I had to do was write! Boy, was I naïve.
- I assumed I’d be able to make at least a part-time living from writing fiction. I’m still dreaming about that one. Maybe one day.
- I didn’t realize that writing was a business. I thought of it more as a creative art. But make no mistake, it’s a business with contracts and obligations you must fulfill. Writing is a job, your business. Take it as seriously as you’d take any job, or any small business you owned. Show up every day and put in the time.
Like any venture, writing fiction has its ups and downs. But despite what I’ve said here, I still think it’s the best, most interesting job in the world. I couldn’t stop now if I tried!