7 03 2013
Getting Published Is Different For Everyone: Two Paths Among Many
One obvious question that can get overlooked in the process of seeking publication is, Why do you want to publish this book, article, story or poem? Most likely, the answer involves some combination of artistic or spiritual vision, desire for recognition, need to communicate an idea or body of knowledge, feeling a compelling urge to shift consciousness around a particular topic, seeing a knowledge gap in the general society and feeling called to fill it, and of course receiving a little or a lot of financial compensation for one’s efforts.
As writers, as creative people, it can be difficult to join the artistic and spiritual sides of what drives us with the practical and business concerns. However, the union needn’t be a shotgun marriage, and it needn’t be done alone. Let’s look at some examples.
Cassie, 23, is a recent college graduate with an English major. She is working as an editorial assistant in an academic publishing house. For the last several years, she has been keeping a journal of poetry and prose. In the last six months, she has been reading at open-mike nights throughout the Bay area, and has begun to receive excellent feedback and recognition for her work. Thinking she might be ready to publish a book, Cassie showed her work to one of her colleagues at Scholarly Books, Inc., who told her her work was not commercially viable. What should be Cassie’s next step?
First of all, Cassie should get other opinions about the viability of her work, and from people with more relevant backgrounds. An editor at an academic press does not necessarily know the market for poetry and literary fiction, and even if she does, any author would do well to learn a bit more. Right now, Cassie is making enough money to live on, and has time left over to pursue her writing.
Though most writers of poetry and literary fiction do not earn the bulk of their livings through publishing their work, Cassie’s main goal is self-expression and elevating her level of participation in her literary community of choice. This would give her increased recognition and acknowledgment, which a few years down the road, could in turn translate into a cash advance for her next book. Even without a published book, Cassie could possibly attract enough students to offer a successful creative writing workshop through a local venue.
Cassie might also want to consider some of the many alternatives to mainstream publishing such as zines, e-books, subsidy publishing or self-publishing. A knowledgeable and qualified publishing consultant will be able to help her make the best choice at the optimal point in her writing career.
Here’s another, very different, path:
Bryan, 47, is a nurse-practitioner who spent time before and after nursing school working in nursing homes. Now he works in a clinic for the elderly with doctors and social workers. He is known in the office as the