I can’t really remember how long I’ve dreamed of becoming a published author. At least since junior high when I wrote my first novel which was…well, let’s just say “awhile” ago so I don’t look too old. 😉
But as I prepare to actually launch my first book into the world in…hmm, just under a month today, actually, I’ve thought a lot about what it means achieve that dream. Or if all I’d ever really had was a dream of a dream.
I’ve never been short on imagination, which is probably part of what led me to writing in the first place. So I think I must have had a vision or dream of what it meant to be published. Lots of it was probably deluded, which fortunately isn’t uncommon among new writers. 😉 But as I came to better understand the industry–and that those dreams of huge advance checks, accolades, early success, etc were all fairly unlikely, I started to develop a different vision.
I pictured working with an editor, how I’d always turn in my book on schedule, be easy to work with while still knowing when it was worth disagreeing. I probably wouldn’t be a top author, especially not early on, but I’d slowly keep building my readership and moving up at one publishing house, and then hopefully branch out to others, like self-publishing and becoming a hybrid-author, aided by the business-savvy guidance of my agent.
Confession: I think I felt I needed someone else’s approval before I was able to make my dream a reality. The same kind of approval you get in school, when you get good grades and your parent-teacher nights are mostly them saying nice things about you. And I think I kind of expected / wanted that. That approval would become a kind of validation that yes, my writing was good, someone wanted it–and someone other than friends or people who were otherwise personally associated with me. 😉
Yet, that’s not what happened. I’ve had different marks of validation: I was fortunate enough to final in RWA’s the Golden Heart® Contest. I’d had interest and enthusiasm from agents and editors. But in the end, no sales. I found I’d reached a point of frustration where it didn’t seem to matter what I did, it was out of my hands. But worse, I was letting outside forces determine the worth of my writing…and my worth.
Fortunately, traditional publishing isn’t the only way to get published these days. And many other authors–excellent writers and braver than me–have turned to independent publishing years before I did, which allowed me to ask them for advice and guidance before diving in myself. All of which allowed me to create a different version of my dream.
I still worked with an editor, but it was someone I selected and hired. I still turned in my book on time, but I was mostly turning it in to myself, since I now determined the entire schedule. I didn’t have to wait to see what the art department came up with for my cover, since I decided which artist to hire and we worked together to create a cover I adore. I formatted my books and put them up for sale. And as of last week, I formatted the print version, and for the first time got excited about my book being in readers’ hands. And holding my printed and bound book in MY hands.
I still want to pursue a traditional publishing path as well, since I still want to be a hybrid author (and not just because it sounds like something cool–half-traditional, half-indy – almost a werewolf!) 😉 I’ve just realized that maybe what I had before was a dream of a dream, with all the naive and indefinite fuzziness that requires. But now I’m moving toward something much more tangible. I’m walking that path instead of just picturing it. And you know what? The sky is clear, the fog is clearing, and I’m feeling pretty good.
Have you ever had that? A dream of a dream that turned out so much differently in reality? I love to read comments. 🙂
Thanks for stopping by to read. And remember: if we look hard enough, there’s always magic in the world.