Friday, January 8, 2010

TO Get Published - Here is My Answer

Yesterday, I posed the question, "Why do you (or don't you) want to get published?" I thought I'd try and answer it for myself today...

There are many reasons I'd love to see my novels in print. I think the biggest reason is actually to SEE it in print. I've talked before about how much I love the tactile experience of holding a book, the olfactory experience of smelling that "new book smell." Well, the thought of having my own words, my own thoughts/ideas/characters grace the inside pages of a new book makes me giggly. It just does. To see the cover of a book with my title, yes, even my name, would be one of the most thrilling experiences I could think of. If that makes me a nerd, then so be it. :-)

Another reason I'd love to get published is - okay, I admit it - for validation. No, getting published doesn't make me a better writer. It doesn't magically take words I wrote maybe 2 years ago and transform them into "legitimate, acceptable" words. But what it does do is to, hopefully, show those people in my life who doubt me, who are completely disinterested, who even shake their heads and tell me with their silence that I'll never reach my goal - that I can do it. If that makes me sound petty or ridiculous, then so be it.

Finally, I'll give Alex's answer - I love the idea of other people reading words I wrote. I like the notion that someone, somewhere, maybe in Maryland or New York or California, will browse a bookstore, pause at seeing my cover (if they can find it amongst the other thousands of unknown authors), pick up my book and flip through it, and decide, for some reason, to spend their hard-earned dollars to purchase it. Even more, I like the idea of that person going home after a difficult work day, maybe even with personal burdens, and ESCAPING their lives, momentarily, through reading my book. Because that's partly the reason that I read. I would love for someone to experience what I experience through books - escapism, sheer joy over the written word, even a reflection of oneself through a character or situation. The thought that I, somehow, was a part of that process for someone else is an amazing concept.

By the way, notice I didn't mention money? That's because the likelihood of someone like me (an unknown) becoming a Maeve Benchy or Debbie Macomber is slim to none. Which means that - if I ever do get published - the advance will be small, and I'll probably struggle to publish a second one. That's just reality. But the bigger reason I didn't mention money on that list is that I don't write for money. I write for ME. I'm selfish, that way. I write because something in me wants to put words on the page. I get enormous satisfaction from brainstorming characters, plotting their life paths, making decisions for them. And, with each book, I (hopefully) get to grow as a writer, stretch my muscles, challenge myself.

I'll even take it this far: if someone had a crystal ball and told me, without question, that my novels would never be published, I'd be a little saddened (okay, more than a little). But it wouldn't stop me from writing. Publication would be a lovely by-product, but it is not the main goal. It is not why I write. God willing, I will write until I'm an old woman. Whether published or not.


  1. So true Traci. And you're right. We're definitely on the same wavelength today. I write because I have to get the stories told. I'm the only one who knows them. Now, if someone wants to offer a nice fat advance, I could tell the stories a lot faster.

  2. I actually understand why someone wouldn't want to be published--why some really great authors, like Kafka, for instance, didn't want their work to be disseminated. Precisely because it's yours, and yours alone, and once it goes out into the world, it isn't anymore. It belongs to everyone. Your beautiful baby has grown up and left home, and you can't protect it any longer.
    But the money thing I totally get.

  3. I'm with you on this! I've been writing since I was six. My mother encouraged me to send my stuff to publishers. (Of course I got rejected. But I grew up understanding it.) Of course, I would love to be published, but if not then I would still write. I was writing until I was old enough to hold a pen. It won't change.

    It kind of annoys me when you mention your writing projects, and people assume you'll be rich, or want to be the next JK rowling. Many associate writing with getting paid. (I write chick-lit and like you mentioned, even I would get a miniscule advance if I was to get published.) Hate having to explain to people that it's not all about money, that yes, it would help, but money isn't why it's done.

    I think it's the joy of seeing your work published that's appealing - seeing other people reading it, getting your work finally out there.

    You're definitely not selfish for writing for you! :)

  4. Gayle - yes - writing is such a private endeavor, and for many, I can see why they'd want it to remain so. Once it's "out there," you can't get it back...

    Elle - I agree - in fact, the very FIRST question anyone asks when I tell them I write novels is, "Are you published?" When I say "No, not yet," I always feel I have to justify it by rambling off the odds, lol - how difficult the industry really is, how flooded and competitive it is. So, sometimes, I just go the easy route and don't mention my novels at all. :-P

  5. The first story I published in a children's magazine was for a non-paying market. But the thrill of seeing that story IN PRINT and knowing it would be read by many children was worth the time and effort to 'get it out there'.