I've been part of the online writing community for about 15 months now. I use a handle different than my real name so most of my idiocy is not Google-able.:) But still, if you know me at AbsoluteWrite, you can find me here. If you see some of my comments on Miss Snark, you can follow the link on my profile and get here too. So I'm fairly open about my publishing journey; I'm not hard to find.
I have a lot of author-hopefuls who I follow on writers' forums and a few whose blogs I frequent. I've seen a lot of things in the last 15 months.
I've seen a fabulous author acquire an agent, sweat through the submission process, and land an incredible deal. I've also seen her start through the long and often tedious process to actually get the book published.
I've seen a writer celebrate the release of her book through a big house and start to garner reviews, popularity, etc.
I've seen a very talented writer decide to take the route of a small publisher instead of continuing to look for an agent. He's very happy with the choice he made, and I'm happy for him.
I've become friends with a man who is on his twelfth book. He's not a bestseller, but he has a steady, mid list career and a solid fan base. He's very happy with his career and from him I've learned abut the life of a very normal published author. Very few are superstars, guys.
I've seen a friend acquire her first agent, get her first sale, and now she's starting to see foreign rights sales. How exciting!
This is what you like to see. It's a great way to start building some buzz for your book and gain a few fans as well as friends. If we're honest, it's what we expect for ourselves when we create that first handle and post for the first time.
But usually, that's not what I see.
Early on I saw a writer sign with a very respectable agency. Hooray! I thought! We'll be hearing about her book deal soon! But no. Her agent sent her book out to about five editors and then totally lost interest in her as a client. A year later she has picked herself up off the literary floor and started looking for a new agent all over again.
I've seen many, many posters who get so excited about the process of looking for an agent. They get requests for partials! Fulls! Invitations to re-submit after a revision! Things are so exciting! . . . And after a while, we just don't hear from them anymore.
I knew one guy in particular who has had more fulls and partials requested than I ever did. I keep thinking we're going to get an announcement any day. But after over a year, it hasn't panned out yet.
I see many people who are afraid to try.
Putting your goals out in the public eye is often done for motivation. And that is fine when your goals can be reached simply through grit and tenacity. For example, fitness goals, weight loss goals, word count goals, etc. But when you are making public your goals in an industry that rejects over 95% of the people trying to get in, you have to wonder what we are thinking?
Did you think about the risk involved when you started posting about your writing?
Now, I don't have a huge readership or anything . . . But I'm pretty sure there are at least 20 of you. Heck, my family is at least ten of you.:) What if nothing works out for me? Will you be disappointed? Will I feel like I've let you down?
When I started this blog I was sure that I would get an agent soon, and a sale would follow closely. It was a time saving device, really. So I wouldn't have to call everyone who wanted to be updated on my publishing process all the time. But I was certain that the glorious end was just out of sight on the horizon.
I've been lucky; I've had some great success. I'm not to my ultimate goal yet, but I'm close!
But what if I wasn't?
I think that writers need to be inherently optimistic--it's a hard industry to crack into; you need your good nature. But if I knew then what I know now, I don't know if I would have gone public quite so quickly.