Monday, February 27, 2012
When you're a writer, it's easy to get hung up on where you want to be, instead of appreciating where you are. Sometimes it feels like the writers with bestselling books or big deal publishers have won the lottery...and you aren't even sure where to buy a ticket.
But there are some wonderful perks to being unpublished...yes, perks! that you may not have considered.
1. You can write what you want. Just think--this may be the last time you get to write a book that pleases you. You can write what you want, when you want, however you see fit, without anyone telling you it's not marketable enough, or that it doesn't fit a desirable niche. Enjoy it.
2. You can take as long as you like. Need to spend five years on that book to really get the feel for your protagonist? Go ahead...you're not under contract to write three books in three years.
3. Tired of rewriting? You can start something new. Unpublished authors don't have to deal with the expectations of agents and publishers, so they can write to please themselves. That's how they get good, by writing a lot and trying new things when it's still fun.
4. You don't need a lawyer or an agent. You might not even need an accountant. Publishing contracts can be scary and confusing. Unless you're a skilled negotiator, you may want some help wading through one.
5. Your potential is still limitless. Maybe you will be the next J.K. Rowling or Stephen King. Maybe you will write the classic novel of our time...who knows? When your publishing history is well-established, you will have a strong indication of where you stand. Before you're published you can dream as big as you like. There are no limits.
6. Writers are still your comrades in arms. When you're an unpublished author, there is no end of like-minded people to commiserate with. But when you land an agent, that pond gets much smaller, and when you get published, it shrinks again. Look at your writing friends now, appreciate them, and accept that they might not feel the same way about you once you find success.
7. No one is judging you but yourself. Right now, you're your own worst critic. Get published, and you will find people dying to tear you a new one on Amazon.
8. You're not pigeonholed. Similar to #1, just because you've written a mystery for teens doesn't mean you have to keep writing them. But once you get published, your readers (and your publisher) will understandably want more of the books that they're loving and selling.
9. The only pressure is self-inflicted. The more popular you are as an author, the more pressured you are to keep repeating that success. Right now, the only person you have to answer to is you.
I often feel the conflict between "live each day like it's your last" and "think long term". There's a danger in truly living each day as if it's our last--imagine what would happen if everyone quit their job, cashed in their savings, and moved to Aruba.
But there is a way to enjoy every step of the process. Whenever you're fretting over not being published, remember the advantages you do have, and enjoy them while you still can. It's kind of like being single--those carefree days are only truly appreciated by the married.
Posted by J.H. Moncrieff at 5:00 AM