6 Stone Cold Publishing Facts

6 Stone Cold Publishing Facts

Publish, Writing, Literature, becoming a writer

You might have noticed that everyone you know is a writer. They all have ideas for the next great story. Some actually start their book, but most give up before they finish. For every first manuscript completed, there are enough people who didn’t finish to fill a professional football stadium. Think about it. Ten thousand screaming fans inside and only you and your finished book, out in the parking lot, cooking your ball park frank on a mini-grill. So, you are made of awesome.

Even though you now sweat sparkles and poop little heart shapes, evil thoughts creep around inside your brain like spiders. Your hair keeps making a capital L on your forehead for LOSER—because you are not published. We measure our success by the almighty dollar and not by the effort we’ve put into learning craft. This is a piss-poor way of looking at things because you are worth much more than little green pieces of paper.

Fact One: If you wait for validation to come in the form of contracts, awards, and reviews, you are doomed to fail. There will always be someone with a larger contract or who has more book sales or who has more fans lined up at a signing. Someone will always be ahead of you. The thing to remember is that you are ahead of that entire stadium of screaming fans. At least one out of that bunch of ten thousand wants to come out to the parking lot and barbecue with you—because you are awesome, and unicorns follow you about, and they think you’re way cool.

books shirtsFact Two: You will never hurt your career by helping someone else. You were a reader before you were a writer. Open your eyes and you’ll see a writer who needs your opinion. Just because you’re not published, or aren’t a New York Times Bestseller, doesn’t mean your attention might not pull another writer from the pit of despair. One time when I was ready to quit forever, I tweeted, I GIVE UP. Immediately an author who I barely knew messaged me to find out what was wrong, and read my manuscript. I will never forget her kindness. Not ever. I firmly believe that I would have stopped writing if not for her reaching out to help. I also buy every single one of her books.

Fact Three: Successful and happy people are part of a community. They do not live in a vacuum. You cannot write in a safe, solitary bubble, and expect to obtain success. I double-dog-dare you to look in the acknowledgements of any successful author’s book and not see them thank their critique group. Every writer out there is trying to be better. They keep learning. You need others to share with and to learn from. Sure it is scary to open up your head and let others criticize your brain. I freeze for a second every time I hit send. But I do it because it is the only way I can improve.

Fact Four: Negativity is always waiting behind the next door you open. No matter who you are you have to search for the positive in life. Despair is a crappy writing partner. There is always horrible news on television. Children starve and wars are waged and the world is flushing down the toilet of fail. It is easy to see the glass half, or even all the way empty. It is hard sometimes to find beauty. I don’t care if you write romance, or thrillers, or picture books. Ugly is waiting to tear you down.

Sometimes, you need to give yourself permission to ignore the news, and the dirty house, and the crabby kids, and write. Look for the happy. Celebrate the small things whether your own, or a friend’s. (Honestly guys, their book deal didn’t take anything away from you and you should be cheering for them.) Be thankful that you have a wonderful, imaginative brain and use it to write stories.

Fact Five: In publishing, if it can take longer, it will. I know all of the websites have submission guidelines and a possible time frame. Sweetie, the only quick answer is no, and if you get your answer within the posted time frame you should maybe go and buy a lottery ticket because you won. Life tends to happen to real people and the ones on the other end of your email have friends, and family, and vacations, and surprise disasters—just like you. They need to think about their decisions before they commit themselves to literally years with you and your story. Nagging won’t help. Whining won’t make them faster. Nothing you do after you hit send will speed up the process. You can’t even use your Jedi mind powers—because of them being there and you being here, and it doesn’t work in email. Move along.

Fact Six: When the moment you’ve been waiting for arrives, it lasts a few precious hours and then there is more work. There is always more work. More, more, more. Find your joy in completing a scene, or discovering the perfect words for your character to use before they run into a battle with guns blazing. Publishing is such a long term business that you will never get praise for what you’re working on now. Not ever. Even if you get many books published, you’ll get your praise years after you do the work. Learn to live without instant validation from others. Reward yourself.

Writing is not for the weak in spirit. Suck it up and soldier on.

Written by: Julie Butcher-Fedynich

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6 Stone Cold Publishing Facts
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6 Stone Cold Publishing Facts
You might have noticed that everyone you know is a writer. They all have ideas for the next great story.
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Julie Butcher Fedynich
Buzzy Mag Columnist & Pundit. Julie Butcher lives with her husband and six children on the fringes of Utter Chaos. She is the sister of #1 USA Today and NYT bestselling author, Jim Butcher. She adores puppies, kittens, and thinks world peace would be awesome as long as stuff still blows up in the movies.
  • Kim Smith Morgan

    There’s a whole lot of good stuff here — I leave with “suck it up, have faith, and don’t expect everyone to fall over in a swoon over your book.” For me, editing is the worst, worst, WORST deep dark pit of hell, and one from which I think it feels I’ve been in forever.

    And also, I want a unicorn.

  • Rissa Watkins

    So well said. I promise you when you are lying on your death bed, knowing you have followed your dream and written a book will mean more to you than you can imagine. Doesn’t matter if it is published and has received critical acclaim- or boatloads of cash (unless it makes you enough money to buy a miracle cure for whatever landed you on your death bed). Write. do it. Don’t give up.

  • Chuck Manley

    Thanks for this. I’m a middle aged guy who’s been writing since the age of eight. I’ve gotten a novel, a couple of short plays, and probably a million or more words worth of short stories out of that time but I’ve never had much luck with the publishing end of things. I love the storytelling but for a while now I’ve felt like maybe all those hours spent scribbling out my daydreams was wasted time, so much so that I rarely write anymore. Your words here help put it into perspective for me. Thanks again.

  • Connie Bailey

    What you said about supporting fellow authors really hit home with me. I tend to feel the sting of envy when I see another author’s book doing well. I’ll remember from now on that it takes nothing away from me. Thank you.

  • ChenelleB

    This is a great list – I’ve found having a community is essential. The women authors I follow on twitter have been such an encouragement to me. They share their trials and tribulations along with their joys and victories. I can relate and it helps me during the times when I am struggling with my writing, they inspire me to keep going. Thanks, Julie, for sharing this and for your continued encouragement.

  • meg_evonne

    Hi Julie, What a great list. Ten years ago I concentrated on becoming a serious writer (thank you jim-butcher.com writing forum.) After writing conferences, workshops, writing classes, and several manuscripts later, I’ve been offered a two book deal with an actual advance. It wouldn’t have come without membership in Sisters In Crime and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. The support and encouragement from these sources have been incredible.
    I heartily agree with item 6. When I replied to an editor’s, “Would you be willing to make some editorial changes?” (Yes, squeal!) I said definitely and asked the editor to challenge me to make the work better. Rather than sending me the crit notes that I expected, she replied with an immediate two book contract offer. After another squeal, I stepped into unknown territory. All those conferences and I’d never listened or made notes on contract language! I’ve not signed yet so it’s all under the radar for now, but I love the small press, their people I met at Desert Nights Rising Stars Writer’s Conferene, and already adore the editor.
    Reach out to other writers–no matter how introverted you are. You can do it quietly through the internet or in person through classes, through groups, through conferences. Sisters in Crime’s motto is, “You write alone, but you’re not alone.” Always remember that!
    What a great post, Julie.

    • Julie Butcher

      Oh SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!! Congrats on the deal!

  • Zephyra

    I’d like to add #7: there’s plenty of room at the top. Wishing all of us joy in our writing.