5 Things They Don’t Tell You About Publishing a Book

Day 11. 29 pages, 12,640 words.

Now, I’ve self-published before and have decided that basically it is the way to go for me. I could self-analyse forever about whether I’m good enough to actually land an agent or publisher, but it all boils down to these facts: There’s an awful lot of dross out there that is apparently good enough to land an agent or publisher, which I take as a sign that yes, I would be good enough if I wanted to take the time and effort to woo a couple of dozen of them.

Experience has also taught me that it is more a matter of luck, gimmick and connections than actual talent that gets you there. I mean, like, 90% luck, gimmick and connections. Now I’m not terribly lucky when it comes to this sort of thing, and my gimmick this time is “here is a good book”. Since my gimmick last time was “here is a book that will help prevent bowel cancer,” I’m giving up on gimmicks for now.

Although I could definitely pass on the Bechdel gimmick. Easy. If I was that resoundingly tacky a human being. And as for connections, forget about it.

The final fact is, agents and publishers are all well and good, but they’ll fleece you and limit you and if they get on the wrong side of the Internet they will drag you down into oblivion with them. I want to get my story out there for the people I know to read, and then ideally suggest me to others if I’m any good. If they would all just buy a mess of my books as Christmas and birthday presents for everyone they know for the next few years, that would be awesome.

Yes, I want my book out there with a minimum of fuss and hoops and jerking around, so that means self-publishing. Screw it. It’s done.

But here are a few things they don’t tell you about creating a book for consumption by anyone outside your direct inner family circle.

1. Every single problem anyone mentions will make you wish you’d never started writing a book.

“I think he loved her, erally might be a typo.”

YES OKAY, I MEANT FERALLY, WHY DO YOU HATE MEEEEE?

2. There is no such thing as constructive criticism. Everything is personal. Nothing is subjective.

Anything anyone says is automatically right and your own opinion is null and void. See point #1 and the terrible person.

Oh man, you thought that exchange was tangential and didn’t make sense? That’s suddenly my favourite passage in the entire story, I’m a terrible person and I’m wasting everyone’s time with this self-indulgent crap.

3. You can’t implement every change your editors and first-read-throughers send you.

If you do, you will go insane and start to hate your book and you’ll be right to, because your book will be shit. If two pieces of advice conflict with one another, then do not implement them both: ignore them both. They cancel each other out.

4. Solidarity and comradeship in writing is rarer than rare.

Everyone writes. Don’t let anyone tell you it’s impressive or rare. Everyone has a book. Everyone wants everyone to market their crappy story. Everyone wants everyone to read their story. Most people have their shit together better than you do, have a bigger following than you (seriously, what the fuck, how many sheep do you have to slaughter to get more than fifty followers on anything?), have written more than you and are vastly more popular than you are, even though everyone’s product is inferior to your own (or is it? You thought it was, but it’s selling and it has like three hundred reviews on Amazon, so maybe it’s not).

Damn everyone and their stupid, stinking-talented, selling-more-copies-than-you pulp crowding you out of the market.

5. You will hit your bedrock of shame.

After begging and cajoling those closest to you to spread the word about your book, getting them to buy it, all of that. You’ll hit that bedrock. You’ll shout about yourself in public places, you’ll jabber about yourself in forums and cringeworthy tweets.

And then, when you’ve struck rock-bottom, you’ll think about how much you want this dumb book of yours to be a thing, and you’ll pick up a jackhammer.

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5 Responses to 5 Things They Don’t Tell You About Publishing a Book

  1. brknwntr says:

    The flip side of this being, as a reader, it is suddenly difficult to READ the book.

  2. Laurence says:

    Your post made me think of http://www.reddit.com/r/asoiaf/comments/2rtcaa/i_went_to_the_cushing_library_and_went_through/ this from Reddit a few days ago. A guy went to see an original manuscript for A Dance With Dragons, including the notes added to it by grrm’s editor, and his responses. Thought you might be entertained!

  3. aaronthepatriot says:

    Well I feel so appreciated this week, LMAO

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