Wow. I am depressed.
Well, not really. But had I not finally understood awhile back that I can only advise, and that I can’t afford mentally or emotionally to tie my advice to a given outcome, wow would I be depressed.
I edited a novel for a client in February 2006. Then I edited a rewrite of a couple chapters in April 2006 for the same novel.
This morning (as I write this), TWELVE YEARS after the initial edit, the guy announced on Facebook that the novel “is going to be submitted for publishing.” Then he named a target date and added that the target date was subject to change.
I. Was. Floored.
Of course, I did my best at my current skill level as an editor twelve years ago to help the writer ensure his manuscript wouldn’t end up in a slush pile. Today it would be a different edit. Today I’d talk more about cliffhangers and openings and grounding the reader.
But I did my best. And I never dreamed that manuscript would still be in a drawer somewhere waiting to be “submitted” or published 12 years later.
There was very little electronic publishing 12 years ago, and very few ebooks. Very few ebook companies or ebook publishers.
In fact, my own massive poetry collection, Lessons for a Barren Population (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004USLSKO), was the first full-length poetry collection published as an ebook. That was in 1998 or 1999. It was a runner up in the Frankfurt Ebook Awards at the Frankfurt Book Fair. But I digress.
Anyway, the keywords in the writer’s announcement are “going to be” and “submitted.” The former is a fear-based phrase. As my mama used to say, “Going-to never did anything.”
“Going to be” is just a fear-based way to put off something that could easily have been done, in this case, 12 years ago.
This is a classic case of the overpowering fear the critical mind can generate. And the kibosh it can put on a writing career.
To my knowledge, this writer has written only this one novel and a few short stories.
Even if he wanted to go with an agent and/or traditional publishing, he could as easily have submitted the manuscript as early as 2006.
Having held off on that for whatever reason (fear of rejection) he still might have easily self-published his novel in 2011 via Smashwords and/or around the same time with Kindle Digital Publishing.
Okay, so in practical terms, think of how much money that book might have made over the past 12 years, or in the alternative, as a self-published book in the past 7 years.
It’s none of my business. And certainly not the way I RUN my business. I’m no businessman, frankly, but I know the customers can’t buy your products (your books) if they aren’t published and available.
With many writers, the thinking goes, “If I put out a book before it’s ready, readers won’t like it.”
My response is, “Well, you don’t know, do you?” And the way the deal works is, you’ll never know until you publish the thing.
One more note on this… the only way you get better in this art form (as in all other art forms) is Practice.
Had my editing client published his book (or at least submitted it) back in 2006 and moved on to the next one, how many books could he have had out by now?
Even at only one per year (a snail’s pace) he could have announced the submission or publication of his 12th novel this morning. Instead of his first.
And at even 70,000 words per novel (the first was just under 70,000), today he would have 840,000 words of practice writing novels instead of… well, 70,000 words.
At one novel every six months, he’d have announced the publication or submission of his 24th novel this morning. And he’d have written 1,680,000 words of practice. In all probability, he would have been a Stage 4 writer. Sigh.
So the point? If you’re allowing “going to be” to keep you from doing something, please, my friends, shove that thought aside and get on with it.
‘Til next time, happy writing (and publishing),
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