Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Why Publish?

My head’s swirling. I’m editing, rewriting, drafting, doing other projects, maintaining a rather hectic if not torrid pace when I’m suddenly stopped cold by a question.

Why do I want to publish?

I have one novel published. A second one is being edited.


It’s not as if the first one has been so wildly successful that I can live off the royalties. So why am I doing this again, when this second one has turned out to be more of a wrestling match than I expected.

Is it because I feel called by God to do this? Actually, no. I’ve talked before about “being called” to be a writer, and I’ve never heard that call. My call is the call of every Christian – to know God, and to honor and serve God in all I do. That includes my family, my friends, my job, mu church, people who don’t particularly like me, how I deal with rudeness and trials and setbacks and successes. That includes writing, too, and publishing a second novel. But I’ve ever felt “called” to publish.

Is it personal pride or vanity? I think the answer to that question is also no. Publishing a book is to travel to the land of disappointments, unmet expectations, surprises, uplifting encouragement and depressing discouragement. The world is not going to beat a path to my door. I’m not going to get oohed and aahed over at writers’ conferences. No, publishing a book isn’t about pride or vanity. If that is even a part of it, you’re going to be brought down to reality pretty quickly.

The fact is, I knew all of this going into it. I had seen enough of others’ experiences to know what to expect. It’s a trial for first-time novelists, but even well established ones find themselves with a large, well known and respected publisher who overlooks marketing (except for a press release), or editors suddenly changing and the latest manuscript of no interest to the new editor, or the publicity firm dropping the ball, or a million other things.

So unless your name is Karen Kinsgbury or Max Lucado or Billy Graham or Stephen King or John Grisham, you can’t take anything for granted (and I suspect even those authors can’t take anything for granted).

So why do I want to publish?

The reason is simple. I have a story to tell, a story that’s been part of my life for a decade or more, and it was and is time to push it out and let others see it.

In Rumors of Water: Thoughts on Creativity and Writing, L.L. Barkat has some good advice about publishing:

Learn if you’re really ready to tackle the story you want to write. Sometimes you need to calculate the cost, and I’m not speaking of the financial cost but the emotional and even spiritual cost. The story you have to tell may still be too raw, too “unborn.”

Write for small audiences first.

Learn how to connect (or network) and how to hold back  or “not network” – there are ways to “not network”).

Understanding the economics of publishing – what a publisher has to risk and what you have to risk if you self-publish.

I followed some of this advice. But for what advice I didn’t follow, I knew I wasn’t following it. And I knew why.

I still went forward.

Over at TweetSpeak Poetry, Lyla Lindquist is leading a discussion on L.L. Barkat’s Rumors of Water. This week, we’re covering the six (short) chapters on publishing. The links for other posts will be live on Wednesday.


Anonymous said...

Good answer, Glynn! There is also something to be said about the challenge and satisfaction of accomplishment once published - it's like conquering a hill, capturing the flag. But as you say, then there's a WHOLE other set of hills and flags that come next.

LL's book is a great resource and encouragement in the writing discipline.

H. Gillham said...

You should publish.


Sheila said...

"No, publishing a book isn’t about pride or vanity. If that is even a part of it, you’re going to be brought down to reality pretty quickly."

It sounds like publishing could be about humility, then. :)

Louise Gallagher said...

No matter 'why', I'm grateful you 'do'.

SimplyDarlene said...

Let me tell you why "you" should publish...

Because if you don't, I'll have to come wrangle the 2nd novel outta your hands! And nobody wants to see the country girl and mister Glynn bloodying each others noses, aye? (Really, I wouldn't intentionally give ya a bloody nose, it's just that it's been known to happen with my ungraceful, wayward, flailing limbs.)

All that silliness aside, thanks for this publishing insight.

S. Etole said...

I'm so glad you chose to, whatever the reasons.

Chris said...

I'm still in the pre-first book stage, but I know I have several in me. And it didn't occur to me why to write or seek publication until last year. The reason I came up with is very similar: You write for the few (or more than few) people who will encounter your work and know that they are a little more O.K. for having had that encounter, because somebody else thinks like them, understands their experience, or pushes them in a new direction in which they need to go. One's voice is important to share in itself when one can, but it can also be very pertinent to the lives of others.

Megan Willome said...

Can I tell you how much it thrills me that you don't put publishing in the "called" category, but you do put being kind to rude people in that column? Amen!

David Rupert said...

I am a firm believer in just writing. Forget audience. Forget platform. Forget money. Just write. If you are good, you'll get published. If you are really good, you'll make some money. If you are great, you'll get to be one of those speakers. For most of us, we just need to write.

Nancy said...

Hi Glynn,
I jumped over from the conversation over at Tweet Speak. I don't write poetry, but there's so much fun going on over at that place.

Count me in with Darlene, holding you to publishing book two!

People often ask if I'm going to write a book. I say no, and then they look at me like, "Then what are you doing?" My answer is, I'm not sure. I just write stuff. It helps me make sense of life and faith and all sorts of things. Maybe it helps keep me out of trouble.

Anyway. I appreciate your thoughts here. I loved this chapter of L.L.'s book.

Sandra Heska King said...

Nancy, I think sometimes writing gets me *into* trouble...;)

I'm so glad you write, Glynn. I am, however, worried about your sleep. Or lack thereof :)