Off and on for the rest of the year, when you least expect it, Rick Walton and I are going to brainstorm tips about writing. Today’s? Ten Tips to Help Keep Publishing in Perspective.
We meet people all the time who think life is all about having a novel out, or a picture book. “If I could get my name on a book, life would be great,” they think. Is this true? Hmmm. Good question. If you think so, check out our tips and see if we can change your mind about publishing after you read what we’ve come up with.
1. Is your mother published? Would you love her any more if she weren’t? Any less if she were? Oh, wait. Rick expected that to be the other way around. But you know what he means. (Rick)
2. The market is fickle. You never know what’s going to sell. When my first book was published a googillion years ago, you couldn’t sell a YA novel to save your life. Now, it’s difficult to sell a picture book. The market is always changing. And while change isn’t always comforting, it is a good thing in the marketplace. (Carol)
3. All good books WILL find a home. This may take a long time but as my agent, Steve Fraser, has always tried to do for me, you want to find THE best editor for your book. And remember– good books do find homes. (Carol)
4. I could go outside, close my eyes, spin around, throw a rock and hit an artist. But try to find a good plumber. Artists are a dime a dozen. The journey of writing is sometimes more important than publication. (Rick)
5. Which would you rather have, your name on a book or indoor plumbing? I’ve got 80 books with my name on them. I know how much they validate my life. Not at all. What they do is show that I have done something with my life. If I had contributed to society in another way, it would have been just as valid. (Rick)
6. A novel will not make you a terrific person, a loved person, a famous person, or rich. I know someone who makes lots of money writing, but that individual isn’t the nicest person to be around. And I know lots of people who haven’t sold anything who are amazing. When you write, write for the right reasons. People think publishing is the end all, be all. The truth is, it doesn’t always change your life in the ways you hope.(Carol)
7. You should find a career that makes you happy and that makes the world a better place. If writing does that for you, great. If teaching, practicing medicine, parenting or flipping burgers does that for you, good. That’s what you should do. (Rick)
8. I think writing is a two-edged sword. There’re hard parts to it–publishing can fill you with anxiety and be a tough place to spend a lot of time in. Rick says if it’s not hard at times, you’re not doing it right. I used to think that publishing a novel would solve my problems but I think maybe it made more problems for me. (Carol)
9. If your motivations are primarily external, you shouldn’t be doing trying to publish. If you are writing for the money or fame, you’ll probably be disappointed. If your drive is internal, if you’re writing because you feel you HAVE to write, and it makes you happy, and you feel a satisfaction by making the world a better place, then writing is a good choice. Also, internal motivation is more likely to keep you going long enough to actually get published. (Rick)
10. You can’t take it with you. The best part of my life hasn’t been my publications. The best part of my life is my relationships with others, especially with my children. These relationships have been most worthwhile and are a darn good reason to live. The books have been a nice bonus, but I would never trade the two. (Carol)
So there you have it–our ideas on keeping the publishing market in perspective. Not sure when we’ll do this again, on a different topic, but we will.
Yes, that’s a warning. (Carol)