Once upon a time, about nine years ago, I finished writing a book. I wrote those glorious words, THE END. It was THE END of years of dreaming, hoping, wishing, and working. It was THE BEGINNING of my education in the other half of what goes into making one of those rectangular, paper things with shiny covers that you find on the shelf at the library. Now that I'd written a book, of course the next step was to get it published. But that was going to be easy, right?
I had this idea in my head that if I was a good little girl and fed the mice and did my chores, the Publishing Fairy would descend with gossamer wings and a sparkly wand and grant me a publishing contract. All I had to do was sit quietly my the corner by the sooty fireplace and send out a few query letters now and then.
Eh, it ain't happening.
I'm a proud admirer of the members of our crew here at the Scribblers Cove who didn't sit around waiting for the Publishing Fairy, but instead went and got their own ride to the ball. Sue and Emily have both found success in the self-publishing arena. I know they both work hard at self-promotion, but that's not much different from authors who go the traditional publishing route. At our last SCBWI-Hawaii conference I asked a friend who recently published with a traditional publisher how her second book was coming along. She rolled her eyes and said, "I had no idea how much less time you have for writing after you're published." Then she went on to talk about book signings, school visits, and all the things she does on the internet to promote her book.
No matter which way you do it, publishing isn't a happy ending. It's another beginning.
I'm still all starry-eyed about going to the ball, but I'm taking a different approach now. I don't want to have to run off at midnight because I'm afraid my gown's going to turn back to rags. No, I want to be there because that's where I belong. Not long after I finished my first manuscript, a friend of mine gave me a great book on writing style that was even better than a magic ball gown. My writing improved almost immediately, and I went on to read and study several more books on the craft. About five years ago I started going to writing workshops and conferences, which not only taught me more about how to create great books, but built a network of helpful, supportive friends who were doing exactly what I was doing. Since that first time I wrote THE END, I've written four more books and now I'm about to start a fifth. Most of all I'm trying to develop habits that will carry me not just to publishing, but sustain me throughout a full writing career.
See you at the ball.