writing business

From Fear to Publication

This blog entry is not a motivational speech. It is a layer of my opinions and wanderings of random thoughts about one aspect of publishing a book — the ego and the fear.

I believe there are many well written books that could be classics and loved by many. However, the writer’s only copy is sitting on some electronic device or printed and gathering dust somewhere. It is almost like the best writers do not want to be published. It is almost like the best writers are the ones who fear publication the most.

Of course, there are many books that should remain unpublished. I wrote two of them. There are also a lot of books that should not have been published. I have read some of them. In the end, I think the difference between publishing and not seems to be the ego.

Those with the biggest ego appear to find it easy to publish. I don’t mean “ego” in the negative sense. These authors want the world to know they wrote something and have no fear of the public reading what they wrote. Is there a link between ego and fear?

Over the years, I have met some very good writers who never published. They saw publishing as a barrier they could not overcome. Also, almost none of them had strong egos. Some even told me they feared where the publication route would take them.

I have no answer for how people without strong egos can overcome their fear and get published. (Except overcome their fear and publish, but that’s a motivational speech.) I have three books sitting alone on my computer and printed out that are ready to be self-published. They’ve been sitting there for too long.

Join a Writers’ Group

Writers’ groups are opportunities to encourage and inspire writers along with providing a means to network. As president of a writers’ group, we provide benefits to motivate people to join. We have luncheons with guest speakers, on occasion writing events, and a discount on our writing contest. Member dues help pay for these things.

Our group, like many others, offer author representation on the website, a monthly newsletter, and we support several critique groups. More things member dues support. Yet, even with being in a large population area with a vibrant writing community we struggle with membership.

Writer groups are needed so a writer has a place to go to for support. Yet, I know many writers who do not belong to a writers’ group.

I think it is important for writers to join one. Most membership fees are reasonable and the opportunities to join can mean more than the money. There are opportunities to make writing friends and learn from other writers.

I belong to several groups, some too far away for me to attend the meetings. Yet, they still provide a way to network and learn. They are an outreach asset with diverse benefits.

I would encourage all writers to support at least one writers’ group in some way. However, I won’t suggest starting one unless you are so motivated. As a president of a writers’ group, it can be rewarding, but also challenging.

Writers’ Rights

I am not an expert on writers’ rights. These are only my thoughts on the subject.

Lately, I have listened to podcasts and read articles about writers’ rights. Whenever a writer completes a story, an essay, poem, or other form of writing, at that moment the author holds all the rights to what they created. They decide how their work is published and in what form with what type of compensation.

Many years ago, authors granted rights to have their work printed in a book or a magazine. The fortunate ones sold movie or TV rights. There were also audio rights to sell. Today, technology has created many rights that an author can sell such as electronic or digital.

As a writer (like all writers), I have two things to sell when I finish a body of written work. The product which I wrote (novel, short story, etc.) and the rights to that work.

I would never consider selling “all rights” to my work and neither should any writer. In today’s digital world, I do not think a reputable publisher would want “all rights.” Also, there are other repercussions to selling “all rights.”

Besides owning all future money, the publisher also owns the author’s reputation. That work can appear in any publication anywhere. In the music industry, many musicians cringe at their work used to sell things they do not support.

I think rights are more valuable than money or publication. It is better not to be published rather than sell all the rights to what I wrote.

Of course, some rights could be sold on a limited basis. Afterall, the publisher needs to make money, too. However, I would always have some control over what I wrote.

Why Don’t Agents Respond to a Querying Author?

After critique groups and a professional editor, I finished editing my young adult, science fiction novel and decided to query agents before I attempted self-publishing.

Of the eighty agents I queried so far, forty percent did not respond. (Twelve percent of the rejections did not come from the agent, which is a topic for another blog post.)

I have trouble understanding why agents do not respond to a writer’s query. Yes, some agents get a lot of queries and may not have the staff to help them sort through the submissions. Yet, there are software programs that make it easy to at least email a simple, prepared rejection form.

This leads me to assume (maybe wrongly) that the lack of a response from agents is either laziness or a lack of respect (i.e. snobbery) toward writers.

When I read agents’ comments, they give the appearance of liking authors. They also encourage and advertise writers to submit a query. Then, why does an agent not send a response when rejecting a submission?

Maybe agents do not like sending rejections. But getting nothing is worse than getting a rejection. A nonresponse is a rejection with added rejection thrown in. It sends a message that not only is the submission not wanted, the writer should not have sent it.

I can go on with assumptions and guesses. In the end, I remain puzzled as to why agents would show disrespect to writers by not responding to their query. I could call some of the agents and ask them why, but they say not to call them.

I’m not letting it bother me. After eighty queries, I’m more worried about this self-publishing world I’m headed into.