That is the question, isn’t it? And it should start with Shakespeare’s original question: to be or not to be? What do you want your work in progress or manuscript to be?
First, let’s look at the dream- you’d be OK with being half as popular as JK Rowling, Neil Gaiman or George R. R. Martin. Some of us even tinker with the idea that being renowned after our deaths would be acceptable, but what fun would that be…other than for future relations?
Second, let’s look at the nightmare- you put your heart and soul into something and it never sees the light of day. No one reads it, bar a few friends and relatives. You struggle for years on end, attempting to get a literary agent, publisher or the like and none of them live up to the expectations. You edit, re-edit, and change it all again. You attend endless writing conventions or classes. In the end, a house fire consumes all your records and work.
Finally, let’s put ourselves smack dab in the realm of reality. If it’s very important for you to be a “published” author, with the contract at one of the big 5 houses- more power to you. I don’t begrudge you that and I truly hope you achieve your goals!
The time and effort to query and write different letters for each agent or house is time-consuming. Did I do it? Yes. I queried 10-12 times. It was four years ago and I don’t remember the exact count. Some people would gasp, saying that I must query 100-200 times…that I threw in the towel far too soon.
Bottom line is that I’m impatient. I want to write. Working full time doesn’t allow for a lot of marketing or query-writing. So what did I do? I self-published. I refused to pay a company to do it for me. (I’ve heard horror stories and they charge way too much). After learning how to format, get a book cover and do the other twenty things required- my book went out into the world. And, then, I did it two more times after that.
People are reading my words.
Recently, a dear friend invited me to her niece’s basketball, playoff game. After their victory, my friend’s sister came up to me and asked how I was coming along on my next book.
“I’m half-way complete,” I told her.
“Well you’d better get home, so you can work on it,” she shot back.
She wants to read more.
I know people have differing ideas about success. Have I made a lot of money? No. Do I have an agent? No. Do I have the luxury of writing full time? No. Is there a contract on the horizon? No.
But, what I want my work to “be” is read. Nothing makes me feel like a writer or author more than that.
Whatever makes you feel most like a writer- do that. ❤
“Do what you love. Know your own bone; gnaw at it, bury it, unearth it, and gnaw it still.” -Henry David Thoreau