Busy month for me as I've been writing and turning another ebook into a paperback on CreateSpace. But the finished product looks great I'm pleased to say, and I can't wait until a copy is in my hands.
Still this process, not to mention the pile of paperbacks I just received in the post all written by my favourite author - ME!!!, got me thinking. Why go to all this trouble? Do I really need to in order to be a writer? And then a related question came up on one of my writing forums and so this blog was born.
So I thought that this time I'd turn my attention to the role of publishing in a writer's life. And here I'm not just talking about the transition from writer to author here, I'm talking about the advancement of the writer in his craft.
First let me say that I agree that there is a time for publishing and you can do it too early. And self publishing is not something that should be just an automatic reflex. Whether you self publish, put your work out in blogs, or go the trde publishing route, as an author you have to constantly strive to produce the best work you can before publishing. I think too many people see self publishing as an easy road. It's not. It's far harder than having an agent and a trade publication deal. There are so many skills to master for the self publisher that the traditionally published author never learns.
So to those of you thinking of taking this road, do not think of it as quick and easy. To quote Dogma (one of my favourite movies) "Prepare Thyself."
But I think everyone who considers themselves a serious writer needs to be aiming always at getting his writing out there to be judged by an audience. And when I say aiming, I mean more than just dreaming, wishing and hoping. I mean that you as a writer you have a plan and you have resolved to complete it. Writing is in the end a communicative art, and if you don't get your work out there somehow you're not communicating. It's like a painter sitting in his room painting only for himself. Or an actor practicing his craft eternally by himself, but never going on stage. Until you do that, until you put your work out there for others to read, you're not just not an author, you're also not really a full writer. There is something missing.
So my advice to all serious authors is that you have to commit yourself to publishing, however you can. And for many of us that will be by self publishing. But for those of you who decry the self publishing route, I say never say never. Every author needs to have an audience and spending year after year amassing piles of "Dear Sir, Thank you but -" letters is not getting yourself an audience. It's not helping you to advance your craft.
Then once you've published "Prepare Thyself" all over again for the roller coaster that will follow.
Once you've got your work out there, in whatever manner you can, then your entire world changes. Before you even published, but after you'd truly committed yourself to the journey, there were all the things you probably as a writer writing a story didn't think so seriously about. Editing, covers, formating, marketing. Knowing that you're going to take that step pushes you to master these things. And do not underestimate the amount of work that that will take. For some of us, me again, learning to create a cover was like a fish learning to fly. Still is actually, and though I'm pleased with what I can produce these days, I can't wait to see what I'll be able to create in say - ten years.
But that's only the begining. Then come's the feedback. Sure it's not all good and I've had my fair share of hit and runs, but in the end it's what you need. The good the bad and the strange. That feedback even when it rubs you the wrong way and leaves you bleeding on the floor, will help you to lift your game in a way that nothing else can.
Sitting at home sending out query letter after query letter, most of which will never be answered, and working on your next book can't do the same thing for you. In fact it can even become disabling. There is a certain comfort in being able to send out letters and have them come back 'no' or not at all with no explanation. It's safe. It's a rut which you can get stuck in. It's never nice getting a 'Dear Sir thank you but' letter, but after a while you get used to it and you can return to your dreaming about when one day you will be published instead of biting the bullet and actually putting your work out there.
So yes, my advice is that if you want to be a serious writer you have to always know it will be published and will see an audience. You need a plan, and one with achievable goals that you know you will achieve. You can't allow yourself the luxury of simply writing whatever you feel like forever and dreaming about 'one day'. That is a certain road to never becoming a serious writer.