Why am I talking about this?
Because, I was having a bad writer day this past summer and I made the mistake of going down a rabbit hole. I’ll skip the details, but there was a group of people on this one site basically shoving their opinion down an asker’s throat regarding if she should accept an offer or not.
“Is it a lateral move or an upward one?”
“They don’t pay advances so they aren’t worth it.”
“Don’t you believe more in your manuscript?”
“If you sign with them, you might as well give it away.”
“You’ll never break into the big five if you settle for something like that.”
Reading these people made me feel like everything I ever did in writing was wrong. It made me feel like I didn’t want to be a published writer enough or in the “right” way. My accomplishments up to now were all fake. My future was bleak. I had screwed up my writing career. There was no hope!
Thankfully, I am surrounded by wonderful people. These people talked me back from the edge of the Cliffs of Insanity.
It took me a while to remember a story another writer once told in a forum. His mom had been a romance writer. She went to a workshop/convention thing and a speaker there said something like, “It takes four novels before you get published.” She came home and wrote her novels as fast as she could, so she could get to the fourth and get published. It took her until her sixth.
Then, I thought about the other stories I knew. I’ve seen someone get a chance to ghostwrite novels because of connections from a different industry. In publishing news there’s always a story or two a year about fanfic authors finding their way into traditional publishing. Then there’s self-published authors who transitioned to traditional publishing. The reverse as well, traditionally published authors transitioned to self-publishing.
What did this all tell me? As much as these advice givers meant well, they were forgetting an important fact. It was a fact I forgot while reading them. There is no one path to publishing.
The right path to publishing is different for everyone. There are only three steadfast rules, in my opinion.
The First Rule: Don’t be rude, mean, or hateful. You can disagree or dislike things, but there are good ways and bad ways to put them when you choose to voice your opinions.
The Second Rule: Own your choices. On your path you’ll have to make choices. Where to send submissions and what offers to accept/decline. It’s okay to have standards, but don’t expect everyone to feel the same way as you. You’ll even make choices you will wish you hadn’t. Learn from those, but don’t blame others or yourself. Don’t regret and don’t hate. You just move forward.
The Third Rule: You get what you put into it. If you write a 1,000 word story in an hour and send it out, you’ll find less success than a story you carefully crafted and edited over a week. When you learn by reading blog posts or craft books, you are investing in your writing. Some writers do just fine keeping to themselves, but most do better, finding support and opportunity, when they connect with writers and readers.
So, plan your path or fumble your way through it all. Be awesome and you’ll be fine.
What rule(s) would you add?
What makes your path to publishing yours?
What mistake has helped shape your path for the better?
Know what else there is no one path for? Following me. However, there is a new path! My newsletter. You get a FREE ebook for subscribing. There’s also weekly summary of my blog activity and bonus content not appearing here.