Ask an author why they write and you’ll get some variation of “to tell a story.” For most of us it started with the wonder of leafing through books picked up at a library or bookstore. We fantasize about the weight of a book in our hands, our name on the cover, picture on the back.
But times in publishing are changing. Traditional publishing isn’t the only way to go anymore. And you don’t have to have an agent to get published.
How are these changes affecting the publishing dream?
This week we’ll take a look at the evolution of the writing dream, an inside look at the thought process of authors at different stages in their writing career. Today, we’re starting with an aspiring author – that would be me. Wednesday, you’ll hear from debut author Laura Drake. And on Friday, multi-published Marilyn Brant will close out the series.
Part 1: The Aspiring Author’s Writing Dream
By Orly Konig-Lopez
A few months ago I was chatting with an author friend who had just self-published her debut. I was a bit deflated from a submission let-down and she asked, “Why are you still doing that? I loved your story. Just put it out there on your own.”
In today’s publishing market that is indeed a viable option. And I know a lot of aspiring authors who go that route—some quite successfully too. Is it tempting? Absolutely.
But it’s not for me. And here’s why: I have a dream. Yeah, yeah, you’ve heard that before and more convincingly. Hang with me for a second.
My dream isn’t a lofty one. I don’t expect to change the world. I have no delusions of millionairedom. I’m not running out to buy the perfect shoes for a red carpet appearance. I want to write the best book I can possibly write and see it published. I want to write something that will – hopefully – touch readers.
When I first set out to write a novel, I thought I could just hole up in my office and write. I took a couple of workshops, joined a couple of writer’s groups and guess what I learned? The more I interact with other authors, the stronger my writing becomes.
I belong to two critique groups (yes, two!) The feedback and encouragement I get from both groups is priceless. I’m also a member of three writer’s organizations (even a founding president of one—that’s huge for an introverted troll who really just wanted to sit quietly in her cave and type away a couple of years ago).
My writing has matured since I joined these groups and I’ve learned an incredible amount about the publishing industry. The more I learn, the more convinced I am that my dream of getting an agent and pursuing a traditional publisher is the right one for me.
Why? Because there’s still room to grow.
At this stage in my career I want that publishing knowledge behind me. I want an agent who sees something special in my writing, falls in love with my quirky vision and will help me make those stories that much stronger. I want to work with an editor and publisher who see a gem in my story and will want to share it with readers.
Sound naïve? Maybe. I know the industry is hard. Believe me, I have enough rejections in a folder on my computer to know that landing an agent isn’t what it used to be. But I also have enough encouraging rejections to keep me focused on what can be.
A few days ago, Laura Drake shared this quote:
- “The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.” ― Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture
I don’t plan on giving up. Will my dream ever change? Maybe. If in a few years I’m still picking at the mortar of my brick wall with a toothpick, yeah, I might reconsider.
For now, I’m sticking with my dream.
What dream are you pursuing? And why?
After years of pushing the creativity boundary in corporate communications, Orly decided it was time for a new challenge. Three women’s fiction manuscripts later (plus a handful of picture books), it’s safe to say she’s found her creative outlet.
When she’s not talking to her imaginary friends, she’s reading or at least trying to ignore everyone around her long enough to finish “just one more paragraph.” Orly has also joined forces with some amazing women’s fiction authors to launch the Women’s Fiction Writers Association.