Warning! Warning! Don’t fall for it!
There’s a perpetual trap many writers fall into. I like to call it the wishful thinking trap.
I wish I could be published like ‘that writer.’
I wish I were as good as ‘that writer.’
I wish I could be as successful as ‘that writer.’
Hate to break it to you (okay, not really) but ‘that writer’ doesn’t exist. It's a myth. ‘That writer’ is a lie we tell ourselves, and one many have come to believe.
How do we avoid falling into the wishful thinking trap? By educating ourselves.
I’ve condensed the wishful thinking trap into three lies. These were not thought of lightly–this was after many meetings and talks with other writers. And I observed so many falling into the same traps over and over again. And I picked three because you know, wishes always come in threes, right?
Not all will be addressed in one post. Instead, to give each concept fair attention, each wishful thinking trap will be addressed in its very own article. This will be the first in the series.
Part I: I wish I could be published like ‘that writer.’
Tell me, does this sound familiar? The struggling, quirky writer lives a somewhat average life and never seems good at any job. The writer sends out query after query to only be rejected, and hurt his/her esteem on a deep emotional level. Until the writer, one day has a great inspiration to write something significant from the heart. Magically a publisher or agent finally sees the writer’s greatness and takes a chance on the writer. The writer sees the accumulation of his/her work and fulfills the dream of being some kind of best-selling writer.
Very familiar right? Also, complete fiction.
First, the struggling, quirky writer trope was created because it makes an entertaining story. Why does it keep being retold? Not because it’s realistic. For the sake of telling a story. This trope ignores the many complex aspects and hard work of publishing, and strictly focuses on a fictional version of writing industry calls ‘traditional publishing.’ The trope kind of tells what traditional publishing is like, but still is centered in a fictional state.
The hard truth? Publishing is HARD work, no matter what route you choose. And yes, I said route, because there is a myriad of ways to be published. And publishing takes a business mindset in all routes. Essentially your writing is a product. You created a product that you want to get out to an audience. Why does your audience want this product? What need does it fill? How do you get your audience to invest their time and money into your product? Those are just a few of the questions you need to pose once your product is ready.
I’ve read many articles and posts concerning traditional vs independent publishing routes. Which one is legit? Which one makes you a ‘real’ writer? As I mentioned before, publishing is HARD work no matter what route you choose, but I digress. Both forms of publishing are legitimate. You’re a real writer no matter what you choose. You can make just as much or little money on both. You can end up in brick-and-mortar stores with both. The real difference between the two? How the work is distributed.
With traditional publishing, you can either represent yourself or work with an agent to represent you. You propose your work/product to a publishing company. Maybe this is done through a query. Or a business proposal. Or through networking. Or at a conference. Or through a mutual associate (pretty much, there are many paths through the gatekeeping, not just the old-fashioned sending of paper queries). You're asking them to invest in your product; market it, print it and distribute it. The trade-off? You surrender a percentage of the rights to your work and everyone who invested in it gets a cut. They need to make back their investment and more to make a living. And there’s no guarantee that you won’t be cut loose if sales are not turning out as projected. Remember, this is a business.
With indie publishing, you represent yourself in everything. And the biggest trade-off? Instead of having a company invest in you, you invest in yourself. Sounds nice, right? Well, you may keep all the rights to your work, but you also choose to take on all the labor-intensive work of publishing yourself. Be prepared to market, negotiate deals, track sales, make editing decisions, etc. . . all of it yourself. How much will you do? How much will you commission out? How much money are you willing to invest? What can you realistically afford? What are the laws for running such a business? Decisions you have complete control over, but also ones that publishing companies experts make if you go traditional. Are you prepared to make them? Are you happy to make those decisions?
There is no ‘wrong’ route to take on your publishing journey. Publishing is publishing. You pick and do what works for you depending on your personality and preferences. Just be sure to do your research and make smart decisions with your product. The most important thing to remember? You’re in control and can take action. No need to be ‘stuck’ in the trap. If you want to be published, you can do it.
You can make it happen.
I would like to close with a quick reminder: I'm not a mental health professional. These tips are from my own experiences and I hope that my experiences can be helpful and uplifting to those who read.
Stay tuned for parts II and III.
Thanks for reading. As always--enjoy life!