Monday, September 16, 2013

Perils of the Writer: Failure vs. Defeat

Last week I talked about failure, and how to find value in failing.

I should point out that failure is not the same as defeat. 

Failing is when you get knocked down.  Defeat is when you don't get back up.    And, reader, you're going to get knocked down plenty.  Plenty.  The process of having your work critiqued, of querying for an agent, of submitting to publishers is brutal.  Bone-grindingly brutal.  Getting up after, say, receiving ten it's-not-you-it's-me style rejection letters and saying, "All right, let's send out ten more" is not easy.

But it's what you need to do.

Now, let's dovetail this into self-publishing.  Or indie-publishing.  Or whatever you want to call it.* I'm not going to say it's bad or wrong or misguided.  Sometimes it is absolutely the right path for a writer to follow.  It's not a bad thing to do, but it's an easy thing to do badly.  And one of the biggest way it's done badly is for the wrong reasons. 

For example, let's look at a few phrases that may sound familiar:
"The gatekeepers aren't interested in new authors."
"You can't get an agent without being published, and you can't get published without having an agent."
"The 'traditional' publishing industry is going to die, so I'm not going to bother."
"I don't have time to do that sort of thing, I need to get this published now."
I've heard this sort of thing a lot.  Usually from people just starting out.  From people who haven't even finished one novel.  From people who haven't made a concerted effort to acquire an agent or get their work published. 

People who've admitted defeat before they even got in the game.

There's no value to that.  None.  Point to the fences and swing as hard as you can, and if you strike out no one can tell you it was from lack of trying.  And to me, that's a hell of a lot better than letting yourself get beaned just so you can say you got on base.**

*- I'm personally fond of Chuck Wendig's "Author-Publisher" term, as it emphasizes what you need to do to do it right: wear two distinct hats. 
**- I'm really not one for baseball metaphors, but here I find them apt.


Anonymous said...

I was discussing this with my husband the other day. I have a friend who went with an e-only publisher for her novel, and now she's regretful. Her novel, despite being good (I've read it), just hasn't gotten the sort of marketing that a bigger publisher would have gotten for her.

Yes, she chose the faster track. But it hasn't paid off for her.

And that's why I am (and you are, I suspect) going the old school method...

Marshall Ryan Maresca said...

Yeah, I've known several people who, for one reason or another, rushed and regretted. And while the e-book market is growing, it's still just a fraction of the reading market in general. But, yeah, I'm still an old-school advocate.