Monday, April 26, 2010

How to Go Crazy Without Trying

They say publishing is a crazy industry. Always has been. We're in the throes of change (e-books, e-readers, kindle, iPad, e-Zine, indie presses, Google scanning every book under the sun, Amazon poised to take over the world).

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.


Danica Grunert said...

Thanks Bonnie. Your blog is always encouraging and informational. I can't wait to get my hands on your next book!

Jan Cline said...

Enjoy the journey for what it is...such good advise. It's a good way to avoid being overwhelmed with the big picture.
I have enjoyed your blog - thanks for sharing.

Wendy Paine Miller said...

This is good, good stuff!
~ Wendy

Bonnie Grove said...

Thanks Danica, I'm glad to hear you're encouraged.

Jan, you're so right. We need to ensure we don't get stopped in our tracks.

Wendy, Glad you enjoyed.

Mary Jo said...

Bonnie, Thanks for the sound advice. Most of us do chase our tail with the mass of e-info out there. Instead, we need to remember the joy of writing and where we want our words to be read.

Lori Benton said...

The advice for taking this journey one step at a time is so important. Why keep my eyes focused on a step I might need to take months, maybe years, down the road, when all that does is make me bark my shins on today's obstacle? Sufficient unto the day...

Bonnie Grove said...

Mary Jo: The joy of writing! YES! There is such joy in writing isn't there. Thanks for reminding us all to embrace the joy.

Lori: Sufficient unto the day. Thanks for that, well said. God asks us to look only at today and live in the present. Ahhh.... relief!

Janet Sketchley said...

Bonnie, thanks for breaking it down into something less crazy-making. Your last point makes a big difference. Once we accept what the writing life is like, we can get back to enjoying the journey.

Bonnie Grove said...

Janet: I hear you. Make peace with reality. It's a good thing!

Gina Sikkema said...

It sounds like you're talking directly to me. This post is timely. Thank you.