WRITING: What are your words worth?

Good afternoon,

The only difference between a published author and an unpublished one is that the published one never gave up.

This topic came up with my critique partner months ago when we were discussing the vision for our books. Admittedly we both write high fantasy, but hers is more eastern cultured than mine is. I’ve read and critiqued some of her stuff and we got into discussing the journey of a book. There are so many avenues out there for a book to take that it can sometimes be daunting to navigate them all, and the results really vary it doesn’t matter which way you do it.

The first thing we did was narrow down the goals of a book. I mean how far can a book really go? What can a book aspire to? (Notice I say book and not author because it’s all about the BOOK) We came up with four potential book goals.

1. The Bestselling Book
2. The Award Winning Book
3. The Book that receives Respect in the Literary Community
4. The Book that Inspires its Readers

Those are some very different goals, and all of them can be reached through a variety of publishing paths. In case you just fell off the turnip truck, here’s the current popular paths to publishing.

1. Traditional Publishing with an imprint of one of the 6 Major Houses.
2. Traditional Publishing with a Small House.
3. Self Publish with Createspace / Lulu
4. Ebook Publish with Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Smashwords, OmniLit, etc.

The question then is, what are your words worth? Can you ever know the answer to that question until you publish? How can you ensure that you’re going to reach your goals? It seems like a lot of the answers to these questions come in the form of the coin toss, but that isn’t necessarily true. It takes a community to build a book, and the more support, the farther it will go.

The first person that has to believe in your work is you.
And what you do will determine how much you believe in yourself.

There’s all sorts of people out there on all different types of publishing quests so without trying to speak for every individual out there, this is what I think.

The Unknowns: These are the sneaky people who write in private, don’t blog, don’t tweet, don’t even have a facebook. (Sometimes I think they may even use a typewriter.) They write, they query, they sometimes get published, they sometimes don’t get published. If they don’t get published, they either have to change and become one of other motifs, or be satisfied with their work never seeing the light of day.

FYI: I don’t think these people really know how much their words are worth.

Goals Achieved: Nothing since they gave up.

The Aspirings: These are the people who are out there building a platform but who haven’t put anything out there yet. Maybe snippets of articles they wrote or teasers or flash fiction, but nothing completed. They don’t have a book out there yet, but they do let everyone know they’re writing something awesome and that one day it’ll be out there for people to read. They query, work on their writing, query some more, hope for the best, query, etc. etc. Some of these people get accepted by either the Major Houses or the Small Houses and some of them don’t. Either way all of these people eventually change their motif.

FYI: Most of these people have an unrealistic view of what their words are worth.

Goals Achieved: Nothing yet, but something someday.

The EBookers: I think some of these people exist to simply clog the market. It’s my opinion and I’m allowed to have one, but when I was reviewing ebooks I was lucky if I found one good one in a list of fifty. It’s probably worse since the success of Amanda Hocking. A lot of these books aren’t ready to be out there but the writers just want to see their work out there. They all want their little piece of the pie. And they also think they might be the next big thing on Kindle.

FYI: Just because Kindle is a phenomenon doesn’t mean they are.

Goals Achieved: Inspire People?, Bestseller?, Annoy People with Spam?

The Independents: People who are kicking ass and taking names. These are the ones building their own connections in the underground, looking for reviews and attention and working VERY hard to get sales. The quality of work really varies with the independent crew, some do it because they’re switching from the Aspiring Group to the Indie Group, others are already Published and switching over, and some people just don’t want to face rejection.

FYI: Indie people often believe a lot in themselves but don’t care a lot about the money. It’s not like they’re looking to get an advance, they’re all about the hard sales of the book. Proof is in the pudding. I also admire these people because they’re doing the formatting, cover art, marketing, advertising, etc. etc. ALL BY THEMSELVES. Must give props to them.

Goals Achieved: Indie Awards?, Bestseller?, Inspire People

The Published: These people waited it out, slogged through rejections, may or may not have gotten an agent, submitted to everywhere that would take them and ended up with a small or decent size and their books are out there. They have a smaller team working on their books and most of the work is still on their shoulders, but they have a label behind them. The success of the book goes back to the Author, where the Publishing House does their part but doesn’t put their everything into selling this book for the Author.

FYI: You’re Indie with a label. Your words are worth something but you probably didn’t get an advance. It means that the proof is still in the pudding, and that if you don’t work your tail off you’re going to be dropped from the House.

Goals Achieved: Respect in Literary Community, Awards?, Bestseller?, Inspire People

The Advanced: These are the people who held out. They slogged through rejection letters, they found others to support them and their writing. They worked with beta readers, agents, editors to make their work the best it can be. They ended up with a big house and huzzah! Everyone is watching them! They’re part of a team that’s putting their book out there.

FYI: These people weren’t willing to let their work go anywhere without an advance. They believed in themselves so much that they were willing to wait it out until someone else saw the monetary value of their words. You can sit back and relax because you made it.

Goal Achieved: Bestseller?, Awards, Inspire People, Respect of the Literary Community.

The motto of this article is that good things come to those who wait. Also, don’t sell yourself short, or too soon. Also, I dislike ebooks. Also, don’t give up.


P.S. That pic has nothing to do with this post, it just looked cool.

Comments ( 2 )

  • T.S. Welti says:

    There are so many ways to bring your books to an audience these days, that the paths to success (however you may define success) are endless. I'm excited to publish my book on CreateSpace in just a few weeks. Being able to retain creative control over my story and my cover while also not having to wait 12-24 months to get the book into readers' hands is very important to me. But it's

  • Catherine Stine says:

    Well, that was certainly a thorough post on the many permutations of the publishing experience. More than anything, I want my books to entertain.

The comments are now closed.