Publishing is what most writers (who want to eventually publish) vaguely think about while writing their book, and almost always dread. Most writers I know are introverts, so the thought of launching a book can be daunting. The publishing process is a totally unknown world.
Where to begin? Is it better to find an agent to pitch your book to smaller aligned publishers? Is it worth trying to catch the eye of a big publisher? What about royalties and creative control? Do you have what it takes to successfully self-publish? What about the horror stories of writers who sink a LOT of money into their book, and they never make that money back?
True confession: I was one of those writers who first started writing with no awareness of what publishing might entail. In fact, publishing was such a distant dream that I didn’t spend much mental energy thinking about the process. Rather, I poured my heart and soul into writing what eventually became my memoir – The Chocolate Pilgrim. However, there was a moment when that distant possibility shifted into reality. It was time to start making some decisions if I was serious about having a book.
This moment happened after I completed the third revision. As my memoir neared completion, I started to think about next steps. I’ll admit – this was not a comfortable topic for me. In fact, as the completion of my book was imminent, I became more terrified. I had been writing for years, only sharing my words within a trusted group of other writers. Now I was supposed to release my words into the world? My guts twisted into knots every time I thought about this. There were times I soothed myself by saying, “You’ve learned enough by writing this memoir. You really don’t need to publish.” But my strong desire to publish a book kept me going, along with my trusted writing group members.
It’s almost as if my brain split into two parts. The rational part asked a lot of logistical questions I had no answers for. If you’re reading this post, you probably have questions of your own. Take note of them!
For most writers, the transition from writing alone to sharing with others is a gigantic leap. In my writing circles, we practice reading our words aloud to supportive listeners, who have been coached to listen for what’s strong in our writing. This is for a very important reason: When we launch our words into the world, we become even more vulnerable to the responses of readers. However, when you practice sharing, receiving feedback, trusting that your words will land with your ideal readers, and not taking things personally BEFORE publishing, the whole publishing process becomes easier and happens from a place of self-confidence. One of my writing clients shared this observation:
“I used to write all alone. Writing in a small, trusted group is much better because it provides a safe space to share my vulnerabilities before anything goes public. To write a book is one thing and to put it into the world is another! Marie’s programs are spaces to learn from others’ pieces what matters and what doesn’t, learn how to trust, and grow the confidence to share with a wider audience.”Yvonne Winkler
Back when I was completing The Chocolate Pilgrim, I began to investigate publishing options. I knew myself well enough to know that I had to have someone else take care of all the publishing logistics, otherwise I would get derailed from completing the manuscript. Ultimately, I chose a self-publishing route with a well-respected company that took care of all the details and timelines. Yes, it was another financial investment in making my dream a reality, and I was committed to making everything happen in a good way.
I can’t emphasize this enough: Learning more about publishing and exploring options before you have finished your book is the best way to ensure your success. Writers who have this knowledge invest efficiently, know what route will serve them the best, and most importantly, have a vision of what their end publishing goal looks like! And, extra bonus, they are the most likely to complete their manuscripts because they know what comes next and feel ready to step into it long before they need to.