The power of being an unknown author

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I’ve been writing seriously for the last five years and it is only now that I’m starting to see the fruits of the long solitary hours I’ve put in. I’ve got four stories out, more half written, others only a few more drafts away from completion and others in progress.

It’s a juggle of what am I going to spend my time on. But I get to choose because I have no one placing their expectations on what they want me to write. If I want to write a YA I can, a sci-fi with whatever slant I choose, or something else entirely. I’ve yet to be placed in a box and that’s a wonderful feeling.

I’m so unknown that the only articles about me are from myself.

That affords me a freedom where I can write anything and not be restricted to someone else’s idea of what a book should be. For better or worse. The publishing industry of the past will not the same as it is now and the future is somewhat ambiguous. Afterall publishing houses are nothing but a business. And I like writing for fun not as a means of income (but I’ll so totally take all the money I earn from it).

I’ve worked out that just because I was able to write uni assignments to deadlines back in the day does not mean I can do that same for my stories. I found my creative writing classes difficult to wrap my head around creatively considering my stories are more spontaneous and organically forming. But the foundation that degree provided was essential.

The freedom I’m afforded through this path suits me best because I’m the type of person who goes off and does my own thing. Helps that I am a stubborn introvert and a bit of a shit I suppose.

 

 

 

No agents or publishing houses please. I’m a serious about being published.

You’ve got a story all written and edited? Is it just sitting there next to your computer all printed out? Or is it safe on a usb with copies save in numerous internet storage locations? Thought that because you love your stories so much that publishing houses will feel the same. Did you want to off yourself when you were lucky enough to get a response rejection letter/email etc? Or maybe you were in the group that simply didn’t get a reply at all?

Imagine what you can do with all that time you have spare after you have stopped:

  • Chasing after agents that run a mile from you,
  • Waiting for that inevitable rejection for that wordy baby of yours. (cause believe me you ain’t getting shit),
  • Envisioning publishing houses will like you and your book (they’re a business, not a friend and they’d ditch you at the drop of a hat or worse sell your book to another company and you can’t do shit),
  • And have finally pulled your head from the sand and realised that you are not the only writer out there, you are competing against all others for mass market publication (most money from one thing) and knowing that no matter how hard you work, someone else better or OMG worse than you will be published instead. Shit happens and it’ll happen to you.

Then have no fear you can ditch those bloody shits and self publish! God forbid, it’s not like publishing houses know a good quality book when they see it. Vintage Books I’m talking about you!

The other day I came across an article that asks the question ‘Are Self-published Authors Really Authors or Even Published?‘ I must admit I spent more time reading the comments as people had diverse and fascinating such opinions on it. While people talk about the difference between traditional and self publishing routes, one comment by Peter_Kenneth_C_Bicknell stood out: readers determine if we are legitimate authors or legitimately published. This reminds me that it is readers not publishing houses that control how books are viewed. It doesn’t matter where it is published all that matters is how the reader who holds in their hand views it. If they think this book is poorly written then it is most likely poorly written.

It is pretty much established that in the world of self-publishing there is a lot of crap out there, but it is the same with traditional books. Or as Eric Cartman stated (think of books as friends) ‘This is the way the world works, if you want to find some quality friends you have to wade through all the dicks fist.’ Sometimes you have to wade for quiet a while.

I have to admit about a year ago I submitted some first chapters to a few Australian publishing houses, knowing that I wouldn’t get picked but hoping nonetheless, only to receive nothing. And after going to Melbourne Uni I began to realise how unbelievably difficult the publishing industry is to break into. In terms of employment and publication. I kind of wished that I never submitted because then I wouldn’t be just another rejected book. But now that I know what I’m up against then I’ll just bypass it all together and self-publish as I see it as a more attainable for me to become an author.

For people that go the self publishing route please put effort into your books. Better quality does sell because readers leave reviews commenting on how good it is. Both in the editing and story structure. And if you think you are ready to hit upload on a self-publishing website, then I’d advise you to do another edit.

And for the love of God don’t begin your story by misspelling to word ‘prologue‘ as ‘prolog‘, readers will start your story, if they do, with a low opinion.

How to know if you are suited to the writing career

Writing, including publishing, is extremely competitive no matter where you go. So much so that if you want to go the the traditional path of publishing houses and can be discouraged by;

  • the long hours of unpaid or low paid work (you get paid for a story, not while writing one),
  • the low chance of being selected by a publisher (very few people get picked from a slush pile, most have agents and even then you might not get picked, they also reject you for any reason in the world),
  • the average 10% royalty rate, 15% if you’re lucky (the rest go to the publishing house),
  • the idea that not many people would even buy your book (in Australia at the moment, print runs are an average of 3000 per book, most don’t sell out),
  • you have to take the constructed criticism of a lot of people who simply do not like your book (never mind all that hard work you put in adding meaning and subversive ideas) over and over again,
  • the fact that you don’t have creative control of your work and publishing houses are going to change your story to make it commercially appealing and,
  • the average of a year that it takes to get a book out onto the market ( don’t know why it is takes so long).

then you are not meant to be an author. But if not, and/or you desired to go it alone and self publish then you are meant to be a writer, as nothing is going to stop you.

If you don’t put a price on it someone else will

If you don't put a price on it someone else will

(image sourced from ‘Writers Write’ on Facebook)

Never underrate your work, no matter what industry you are in. Also never give it away for free.

You live in a capitalist world where everything has a price and if you don’t put one on your work then someone else will. And that same someone will try to undervalue your work for their gain.

You may be thinking;
• I just want people to appreciate my work.
• I won’t be able to get my name out into the world if I don’t offer my work for cheap/free.
• I’m competing against other people in my field who are selling their work for cheap/free.
• People in the artistic field can’t pick their prices because their work is a want, not a need.

Well guess what, if you undervalue your work then so do others. If you think your 10,000 word piece of writing is only worth 99 cents, then so will other people. If you think that large painting you do is worth only $10 then people will only pay $10 dollars for it. It won’t matter if you put a thousand hours of solid work behind it and spent many times more on supplies. If you think that all that time and effort you put into it is not worth much then you are underrating your work. You are telling people that this thing you’ve laboured over is cheap then so do others.

If you went into a book store and had to choose between a $4 and a $20 book and rate the quality of each, you are going to assume that the $20 book is better, simply because someone else decided that it was worth more economically. Never mind that the authors might have spent the same amount of time on their stories, the more value someone puts on something the more valuable it is.

If you create a reputation of creating work for very little money or free, then people will expect you to continue doing that. Why would they pay more for the same quality when they’ve already experienced it for less? You will make your artistic side hobby remain an artistic side hobby. It will never give you any potential monetary reward because you’ve designed it like that. You will never become notable for your work because it is stuck in the realm of the cheap and low quality.

But if you do want to give your work away for free then only do it for charity, because that is different.