The title of today’s blog came in a question that was much less confrontational, but significant nonetheless.
In the context of describing the extremely limited amount of money they could spend on writers conferences, online classes, training materials, etc. the writer summarized by asking, “… how can an unknown writer with very limited resources expect to get their writing published?”
This is a great question. But not an easy one to answer.
There is some truth to the adage that “you have to spend money to make money.” But for some that is not always an option. Unfortunately I’ve met some who have spent tens of thousands and still have no result. So it really isn’t a function of “buying” your way to publishing success.
Investing in a career isn’t even a blink when considering the cost of a college education or a technical school. But writing feels different. It is art. It is passion. It’s not a “day job.” And yet I have author friends who would beg to differ with that notion.
Should you spend the money in learning all you can about writing with excellence? If it is within your means? Absolutely. If you can’t afford it, there is an awful lot of information on the Internet that can teach or at least suggest the best way. Buying a book on writing a great novel might cost $15 but could transform your work in progress. If the funds aren’t there, check the library, the only cost is the trip to pick it up.
I do believe, and must believe, that If you write an incredible book it is very likely that it will be discovered by an agent or an editor and hopefully the marketplace. But we never ask to see the balance of your bank account. It is the quality of the work and the sales potential (aka commercial viability) that we are hunting. Every agent and publisher is looking for the next big thing…always.
The challenge is that we see so many ideas that unless something is extraordinary we simply move on to the next one in the proverbial pile. Recently I was sent a proposal and chapters from a 17-year-old that rocked me in my chair. I immediately requested the rest of the manuscript. It was not someone I met at a conference, it came via an email.
I heard the writing industry described as ten thousand writers in a field, each flying a kite…in a storm. Lightning does strike…but it looks haphazard and capricious. It may look that way, but in reality there is intentionality on the part of the selection. In a world where there are a billion stories and 10,000 new books are released in English each day (online and otherwise) it can be overwhelming and distressing.
It is something wrestled with each day. I know authors who pour time, talent, and resources into their writing. Some get that book contract only to have the book fail in the marketplace and their career ends after one book. I’ve seen others strive and work and achieve significant financial success. I know an author who once made over six figures in one year only to have that career unravel and now cannot get a publisher for their work. The variety of success or failure is astounding…a little bit like that lightning storm metaphor.
It sounds simplistic to say, but it ultimately an exercise in trusting in the sovereignty of God. It could be that your love of writing and efforts to that end have continued to grow your dependence on Him. You may pour your writing into your family. Your stories may delight them…and that can be enough. It also can be something that you simply love to do (some crochet, some garden, some volunteer, some cook, some write!). And that can be enough. Aspiring to be a published author can be a model to your children about devoting time and energy to something you love. It can be an inspiration to your friends and others you know. If it happens that someday you find an agent or a publisher who loves your story? That will be a day of grand celebration. But until then, write for His glory.