This week, my guest is EPPIE award winning author Liana Laverentz. Her topic: Why (or How) Do You Want to Be Published? She's got a special prize for one lucky commenter, so be sure to read on. Welcome, Liana
We all know why we write. We write because we can’t not write, or because we have a deep-rooted need to express ourselves in some way, and have for most of our lives. We have these stories running through our head and just won’t go away until we put them on paper—or at least into our computers. We have people who talk to us day and night until we give them a voice. But why do we want to be published?
The answer is a lot more complicated than you’d think. I’ve been writing for over twenty years, and have judged a lot of contests and critiqued a lot of chapters. Some were awful, some technically correct, but had no zing, and some…some were brilliant. You might think all writers want to get published. Not so. One that stands out in my memory was a woman who wrote beautifully, brilliantly…but had no interest in being published. Her husband was in the military and deployed for long periods of time, and she wrote to keep herself company while he was gone. When he came home, the writing was forgotten.
I’ve never been able to figure out whether being able to put her writing away like that was a blessing or a curse.
Others want to be published so that they can see their name on a book and say—sometimes to a family of doubters and naysayers—“See? I did it!” Or they just want be able to call themselves a published author. They don’t care if they sell many copies, as long as they have enough for their family and circle of friends. Others want to be published just to see if they can do it. Once the challenge is met, they have no interest in publishing again. On to the next life goal on their list.
Does that mean that any of these writers stop writing? Not at all. But the lure of fame and fortune is not there for all of us. Some writers write in their spare time, their primary focus on home and hearth, seeing to the needs of their families. They’re perfectly happy publishing a book or short story here and there, adding to their collection of credentials.
Some writers publish with small presses just to be able to see their words in print. They have no desire to go the traditional publishing route. One reason I hear a lot is they want to write what they want to write. Maybe mix genres and find their own audiences. Others see small presses as stepping stones to being published traditionally, and find their successes smaller publishers give them hope and encouragement. Others are happy being ebook authors and don’t care if they ever get into print.
We’re all different. We’re all special. I attended a writer’s conference in January where Bestselling author Christina Dodd spoke about The Sidewalk of Success. We’re all on it. We can step away from it at any time, and many of us do. Some of us come back and some of us don’t. Some of us step off and on again regularly, needing to take a break when Life interferes. But the sidewalk is always there for us, and success means something different to every person on that sidewalk. Sometimes success is, finishing that first chapter, maybe finishing a synopsis and three chapters. Sometimes it’s entering a contest, just letting someone else see your work, much less winning that contest—but oh, what validation it is when you do!
Some writers enter contests and strive to win accolades that way, but never submit to publishers. Sometimes success is defined as sending out a query letter, or three, or ten. Sometimes it’s landing an agent. Sometimes the epitome of success is being offered a publishing contract. I have seen writers back away once the contract is offered, deciding they don’t want someone else reading their most personal thoughts after all.
Others step off the sidewalk once the book is released, and they realize how much promotion is involved. A lot of authors are introverts. We spend a lot of time alone, writing. We’re not comfortable promoting our books. We’re extremely uncomfortable at booksignings. At least I am. Others revel in it. We don’t believe in our books any less if we don’t want to do booksignings and workshops and lectures. They’re a lot of work. Some authors would rather spend the time writing their next book. The writing is what’s important, not the selling. Others live for the thrill of the day we can sit behind that table and sign our books for friends, family, and strangers alike. Others simply want to be able to attend a writer’s conference and wear that special “Published Author” designation, be it on their name badge or in the form of a ribbon or a pin.
Others aim for a publishing contract with a big house and seek to sell millions of books. Others aim for the national bestseller lists. Not once, not twice, but over and over again. Some are happy being at the top of the bestselling list at their publishing house—or just making the list.
There are as many levels to being published as there are to writing. You can be published in your own way, on your own terms, as in self-publishing, you can be published by a small house or in ebooks, you can be published by a small house but in hardback, or a big house and be happy as a midlist author, or you may need to go for the brass ring of national bestseller-dom to be happy.
All are equally valid measures of success, depending on your personality and goals. Which is it for you?
Liana Laverentz is the author of three contemporary romances, Eppie and NJRW Golden Leaf award-winner Thin Ice, Golden Leaf winner Jake’s Return, and Ashton’s Secret, a murder mystery romance now available on Amazon and due to be released by The Wild Rose Press on June 26. For more information, go to www.lianalaverentz.com. For a chance to win a free critique of your first 15 pages, leave a comment here telling us your goals! Liana will select a winner to be announced here Thursday morning, so be sure to check to see if you're the lucky one.