Life on the Fringe
Bear in mind, all of these posts are my own opinion. Others may have differing advice and that’s fine, but I’m giving you MY opinion, based on my many years as a career author. Take what you will, leave the rest, and don’t bitch at me either way. I don’t self-publish and am not interested in it, so I’m not offering any advice on that, here. I also don’t use the term ‘indie publisher’ for self-publishing. To me an indie publisher is a traditional publisher not part of the big six (soon to be five).
As you know, if you follow me on Twitter/FB/etc., I deal with realistic expectations. Just like I don’t believe everyone can be a singer, I don’t think everybody is cut out to be a writer. You may have a story within you, but that doesn’t mean you have the talent and skill to write a book. And that’s okay. I’ll never cut a CD—my voice? Not so pleasant when I’m singing. I’ll never win the Olympics. That’s okay too. Not my talents, even though I think both would be wonderful.
Going from aspiring writer to career author involves a learning curve. The fact is: your first book stands a very small chance of being published. Even if you edit the hell out of it. And maybe your second won’t sell. Or your third. In my case, it took seven novels to have one that was strong enough and that fit the market enough to sell.
But this does not mean the time spent was a waste. I’m one of those writers who believes you have to pay your dues before you can reap the rewards. And those dues, in NY publishing (and small/mid presses too) involve putting in time honing your craft, learning how to pace, craft characters, build worlds, and edit/revise. So never feel that an unsold novel is a waste—it’s very much rehearsal.
Just like the concert violinist needs hundreds/thousands of hours of rehearsal to be ready for the symphony, so a writer needs to put in the hours at the keyboard in order to develop their ‘voice’—to hone their skills and refine their work.
Those seven novels in the closet? Were my rehearsal for becoming the bestselling author I am today. They will never be published, they simply aren’t good enough. I do plunder them for characters/plot elements, but as a whole? They aren’t good enough for me to feel comfortable attempting to publish now.
There’s NOTHING wrong with admitting that your work may not be ready. Because those books give you the space to explore and invent yourself as a writer.