writer, listener

On unhelpful publishing advice (once more, with feeling!)

on July 20, 2016

I’m not feeling mean-spirited. It’s just time for this again, even if it serves no real purpose outside a little positive self-talk.

Publishing advice from those who don’t seem remotely qualified to give it (people who neither write nor read much, for example) comes in waves. Maybe I need to start paying closer attention to what I’m doing when it happens, in case something about my approach is contributing. Serious questions: Does this happen to most writers? Does this happen as frequently to male writers? Does it happen because I disclose too much? Or because I seem especially helpless? Needy? Frustrated? Stupid? Does the fact that this is even on my mind make me seem ridiculous and neurotic, somehow? And why do I care?

I’m at work on my fourth manuscript. And while I share openly about having underestimated how difficult traditional publishing would be (and I thought it would be incredibly difficult) I’m no less determined. As a writer and reader, I appreciate the vetting process–however imperfect–of traditional publishing. I also like when authors are paid for the publication of their work instead of paying to have their work published. The idea that there’s big money in self-publishing because everybody else doesn’t get a cut is mostly a fantasy. The idea that there’s big money in publishing at all is mostly a fantasy. No writer I take seriously is doing it for the prospect of a big payoff.

My experience is not so different from authors you know and love, no matter how much it seems they just popped onto the scene one day with a great book on the shelves. Most traditionally published authors endure years–sometimes double-digits’ worth–of growth (so, rejection) before they hit the right editor at the right time. Either they have many manuscripts set aside or they’ve reworked the same one a hundred-thousand times.

A couple of my more recent rejections are along the lines of: “I love so much about this–especially the voice. But it’s too similar to something on our list.” Or more painfully: “She’s one to watch–please send me what’s next!” In other words, my time will come. I have to believe that.

My process has made me a little nuttier, but my writing is there, or at least better than ever. And my confidence is intact most days, which is in no small part because of my agent. She’s not in the habit of blowing smoke up asses, which makes her encouragement valuable and sincere.

Point is, giving me (and so many like me) advice about how to self-publish, especially when it’s clear you’re not aware there’s much of a difference, is unintentionally like going to the doctor and saying, “Look, I know you’ve been at this medical thing a while and that’s actually super adorable, but I Googled my symptoms last night and here’s what’s up. You’re welcome.”

So, thank you, but please trust that I’m pretty aware of my options. I know what I’m doing, however insane it seems when you know for sure that I could have my books available next week.

Call me stubborn. But also call me patient and hard-working, because I’m those things, too. There’s no other way to be in this business.

6 responses to “On unhelpful publishing advice (once more, with feeling!)

  1. emsaso says:

    yep yep yep! A thousands times yep!

  2. Dorothy J Cauchy says:

    Your day will come! 😘

  3. Great post! I’m holding out for a traditional publisher, too. It’s a long, hard slog, but hopefully I won’t end up with a box of books in my basement like my self-published friend.

  4. Barbara Gurnee says:

    Yes your day will come R.L. Saunders! What puzzles me is that your manuscripts are being read and evaluated by 1 person…(that is my uneducated guess because I am not sure how the system works) and if that truly is the case, then who is to say that, that one person should be able to judge your talent?? I might just be a mom, retired teacher, R.D.A., G-ma and lover of reading material, but I look forward to your posts and enjoy what you write about your life! I feel you are very talented! Take a deep breath, exhale slowly, like you are blowing a flame on a candle just to bend it and not blow it out and don’t ever stop believing in yourself! I can’t wait to read your books when they are published!

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