Sunday, August 16, 2015

6 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Got Published

What writer doesn’t want to see their name in print? As a teenager, I was determined to publish my first book at age 14. Instead, my first short story wasn’t published until I was a freshman in college. That’s not to say that dreams can’t come true. Things just didn’t turn out the way I had expected. Here are just a few of the things I learned along the way that I wish I knew beforehand:

1) Publishing is a long process.

And I mean long. Okay, not like getting your doctorate long (though it could be…). But publishing a short story can last 3+ months, and that’s not including the writing or editing processes. Although I have not yet published a novel-length work, simply writing one has taken months. I can only image how long it takes to publish something of much length.

So you’re thinking about publishing a Christmas story? You’d better start writing it in September or sooner.

2) It’s okay to submit more than once.

Some magazines or publishing houses don’t accept simultaneous submissions but others do. Make sure you check each company’s guidelines. When it comes to publishing, it’s important to be persistent. Keep submitting for publication after publication. As I mentioned before, I didn’t get my first short story published until I was a freshman in college. After that, I didn’t get another short story published until my senior year.

I wish I had submitted more often and before I reached college. Even if the only tangible results meant more rejection letters, at least I would’ve had the experience.

3) Not everybody will read my story.

We live in a world where (sadly) not everybody enjoys reading. Just because I got a short story published didn’t mean that every person I met would demand to read it. While I thoroughly enjoy reading, many of my family members will never read for pleasure. Even though I have three short stories published, some of the people I know well have never read them.

4) Rejection will happen.

Rephrased: rejection may happen to some stories and not to others, but it will happen. Before I got published, I acknowledged rejection as a fact somewhere in the back of my mind. I was fortunate enough to have my first submission published, but afterward I had multiple rejections. Each publication is fantastic, but it will not guarantee the next one.  

5) Acceptance will happen.

Unless you give up, you’re likely to get something published if you’re persistent enough. But wait? Isn’t acceptance the goal of submitting a story? Well, yes. But it is also quite terrifying. Publication means more people will read my work, and I always wish I knew what they will think. Will they like it? What if they don’t? And so on. If there’s anything more terrifying for me than getting rejected, it’s getting accepted.

6) There’s more to being a writer than being an author.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s good to be published. But the delight I felt after I received my first letter of acceptance didn’t last. After I finished the final edits, my involvement with the story was over. I didn’t go back to read my story, except maybe at somebody’s request to read it aloud. For me, that particular story was over, so I went back to writing.

This is not to say that publication is some evil dragon that destroys writing. It’s not. But it’s not a glamorized ultimate goal for writers. If you write and aren’t published yet, you’re an aspiring author, not an aspiring writer. Writers are called writers because they write whether they’re published or not. Publishing is just one way to share that writing with others.
My dear writer friends, here’s to more submissions, (hopefully) fewer rejections, and more writing! Don’t stop now!

What are some things you wish/want to know about publishing? What are your thoughts on the process?

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