IS self-publishing the wave of the future? How DO you make a name for yourself in this biz? Who really decides what gets published and what doesn't? Do I need an agent? What do can a publicist actually do for a novelist? Do I sign with a small publisher, or hold out for a larger one? How can I know how long a publisher's sales reach is? It's enough to make an author's eyes bug out.
Lately, I've found it easy to become bogged down in information overload about publishing, writing, publicity, marketing, self-promotion, and number watching. It's simply too easy to allow discouragement to creep in.
If you feel like I do, then read on. I've come up with a blessedly short list of tips to help us writers stay sane while we press on toward our goal.
1) Understand the industry. Sure, we need to know 'what's happening' out there - but understanding how publishing works is different from analyzing every scrap of data about publishing that gets published on a blog or web site. Instead of fretting over the details (every writer has a unique journey, and what is true for one writer will not necessarily apply to another), have a working understanding of the major players (agents, authors, publishers, etc), and how they work together.
2) Discover what you actually need to know. The publishing world is filled with important details - the good news is, you don't need to know all of them. You need to know about the details that pertain to you, your project, and your vision as a writer. (If you're thinking this means you need a working knowledge of yourself, your vision, and your projects, you're right). If you are looking for an agent, then immerse yourself in the details of agents - looking hard for the right fit. Spend your energy on that step, and keep writing. When you sign with an agent, then move to the next step on your journey.
3) Pay closer attention to your personal journey. Yes, there are tons of blogs about publishing out there - helpful ones. But the best any blogger or industry pro can offer is general advice. What they say may or may not pertain to your specific publishing journey. You'll do better to pay close attention to what is happening to you and your work, then if you run around all over the blog-sphere reading general advice.
4) Relax. Yes, the numbers are stacked against us. Yes, it's difficult to break into publishing. Yes, it's difficult to remain in publishing. Make peace with the truth. Then take a deep breath and continue on your journey. The fastest way to relax? Believe in yourself. Keep the vision in front of you and keep walking. In time, you'll begin to enjoy the journey for what it is, and not fret so much about the destination.
I bid you good writing.