Monday, June 13, 2011

The Importance of Getting Published

Rachna at Rachna’s Sciptorium recently wrote a post about an author whose reason to get published was to win the Booker Prize. This author carefully researched the formula, worked hard and achieved her goal. You can read about it HERE. This got me thinking. It’s important to know why we want to get published. The reasons will vary, but knowing the reason will help us find a deeper satisfaction and focus. It will also help us to find the right avenue for publication.

Below are just a few reasons we strive for publication:

1. To hold the physical book. Our precious stories become more precious when they are bound and we can hold them in our hands. My gorgeous husband got the first book I ever wrote bound. It sits in pride of place on the bookshelf. Now my goal has changed.

2. To gain the interest of investors. My new goal is to write a novel that a publisher will like enough to invest their time and money into. I guess that’s why I’ve chosen not to go down the self-publishing route. I write because I must write, but I strive for publication to gain acknowledgement for getting it right.

3. To share our stories. We can have multiple reasons to strive for publication and this is another of mine. If this is your primary goal, then there are many ways of achieving this: traditional publishing, self-publishing, e-publishing, blogging, podcasts and the list goes on.

4. To fill a gap in the market. The business of publishing is selling books. If you are able to find a gap in the market worth filling, then this is a valid reason. This goal requires a lot of research and knowledge of the industry.

5. To get rich and famous. Some might argue this is not a valid reason simply because of the unlikelihood of it happening. The success of writers like J K Rowling is not the norm. But I say, if this is your thing then why not give it a go? It’s good to dream. I’d perhaps suggest avoid this as a primary goal.

6. To win a specific prize. As the author who wrote specifically to win the Booker Prize, this goal will help bring focus to writing.

What are your reasons for publication?


  1. Oh I think I'm more for the no.2 reason as well. I think I strive for validation. It'll be so good to know that my writing is worth someone else investing in!

    I do like that story of the writer who did her research and got her book shortlisted for the Booker Prize!! Whoever she is - I salute her ambition and her belief and her determination! Take care

  2. Wasn't to get rich and famous! Just wanted to prove to myself I could do it, and the story I selected was one that had been with me for so many years. I wanted to share it with others and hoped they enjoyed it.

  3. Reason no. three. Hands down.

    Part of the reason blogging has been like a gift from God.

  4. oooh, I remember the moment I held the first physical copy of my first translated book ... a lovely experience with your name on it :) Since then I've held twenty of them in my hands :)

    Number 5 me like :) although my main reason for writing is missing from your list - conveying a message and changing the world.

  5. Number one and number three!

  6. All great reasons, although sometimes I forget that I can actually (maybe) make money writing. LOL What a nice surprise!

  7. So many of these ring true for me as well, Lynda.

    I'll only quibble over #2, and purely from psychological reasoning. You can have as many agents and publishers validate your work as you want, but you'll never feel successful until you decide you are successful.

    That may sound redundant, but the point is that you don't need anyone but yourself to prove you've accomplished something. By making a marker of success rest on the choices of others, we risk failing at something we've never given ourselves the chance to truly succeed at. Maybe it would prove to others you've accomplished something by having a publisher's stamp of approval, but that kind of validation is fickle and fading at the best of times.

    According to Old Publishing Testament (that's what I'm calling it now :-), if you don't sell enough copies of your first book, you might not be allowed a second. I much prefer the new way where readers will have the opportunity to judge you with each new offering until you get tired of offering.

    Don't get me wrong, I don't begrudge anyone seeking out the validity of traditional publication. It's a great goal, and you'll undoubtedly feel proud as heck when it happens. I'd just argue that the folks who are self-publishing probably don't feel any less proud or validated.

    Incidentally, I haven't done either and would be THRILLED with both! :-)

    Loved the honesty of your thoughts, as always. Hope you enjoy the rest of the weekend.


  8. Interesting story, but I won't go to the link because it will just depress me. I don't expect I will ever win awards with my books, altho that would truly be wonderful. But I like getting published because it seems like the proper end result to the whole "I'm a writer" thing.

  9. No 3 for me. I'be been blessed with the stories others laboured to birth. They've helped me grow and process life. Can I add to that pile of stories? Use what I know to lift someone else? I hope so... :)
    Dotti :)

  10. One point that was not mentioned, Immortality.

  11. Just held the physical book in my hands not too long ago for the first time...nothing like it, that feeling.
    Edge of Your Seat Romance

  12. I'm so easily influenced, I read a post about traditional publishing and think I want to take that route for many of the reasons (except fame - I do not look good enough when I pop down to Woolies to get my pic taken), then I read a post about self-publishing and think, yep that's for me.
    I think I'll just appoint my 13yr old as my guardian, she's more decisive. :)

  13. Does it make sense that I want to be published through traditional methods in order to prove to myself that I can be? That statement perhaps smacks of letting others define my success...but the idea of someone opening a hard cover book with my name on it gives me the biggest charge...

  14. I write a lot for number three. Given the nature of the story I'm composing, it doesn't do much good unless it is shared with those who need to read it. I understand the severity of my topic. I understand the need for this kind of literature. And, I understand that this story can make a difference for teens who choose to learn from it.

    I also write to prove a point. There are a lot of people who think they get an opinion as to how I spend my time. They have their reasons for not supporting the writing. I want to show them focusing on something to the maximum extent is never a bad thing. I also want to show my former students (who I always encouraged to go after their dreams) that it can happen. That would be a great moment for me.

  15. Hmm, well ... I want to tell my stories, to see and hold a book with my name on it that people outside of my family would recognise.

    So I'd say that's reason three with a good dash of reason one and a sprinkling of reason five.

  16. Hi Lynda,

    I think it's a bit of all your reasons.... We write because we have to ...

    We want to be acknowledged and have many happy readers, which leads to rich and famous.

    We ALL want to hold our books in our hands ... that's a given.

    A Pulitzer prize would be awesome beyond measure.

    Filling the gab is one I never really considered personally. I think if your book is unique and well written it would fill any gap.

  17. This list is fabulous and I agree with all numbers but the question remains, will it happen to me?

  18. What an intriguing post. I went to Rachna's site and, wow, I think it's amazing that that author was able to strategize and actually win that award. The odds were against her, but she did it.

    I write what I want to write, regardless of trends, and the icing on the cake for me is in reaching reluctant readers. I think that making a difference in a kid's life is better than winning awards.

  19. I guess it's number 3. I haven't thought much about it. But in addition to that reason--The whole process is thrilling, like being on a rollercoaster, and I think it's that feeling I like. I enjoy the challenge of it, the suspense, the striving. I don't expect or need some specific outcome, like a prize or money, though.

  20. For all the reasons. To have people read and enjoy my work. To make them feel, care, and laugh. But I really would love to feel justified in my decision not to go back to work. At somepoint I'll have to reevaluate.

  21. I think reasons 2, 3 and 4 for me, though sharing my stories (to a large public) is definitely my number 1 reason for wanting to get published. Number 2 is also why I'm not interested in self-publishing. I want the real deal, even if it means waiting and practicing for years to come :)

  22. It's number five for me! Yup, rich and famous. Clarissa Draper will be known throughout the world. However, it's not my real name so no one will know me at all but anyway....

    Also, the best feeling in the world is when I get feedback from readers saying they liked the story that ran through my head for months while I wrote it.

    Great post.

  23. These are all legitimate reasons and there is a little bit of all of it for me. I've always loved books since I was a child and have pictured having a book that I'd written in bookstores, libraries, and in the hands of readers. Having a book published could be the first step of a career that could take me beyond retirement and become part of a community of individuals who are of a similar mindset as I am.

    Tossing It Out

  24. Hi Lynda... agree with all the points. I would love it if readers not just enjoy my stories but also connect with the characters.

    I write what is in my heart, characters I believe in. Unfortunately, I don't follow trends, but I make it a point to read books that have achieved success and learn from those writers.

  25. Chiming in with those who write for reason 3. God has taught me so much I want others to share the blessings.

  26. I want to get published for reasons 1, 2, 5, (doesn't everybody want that a little bit?) and to prove that I can, to myself.

  27. Hmmm, while it is good to have goals, it's important to remember that the ends don't justify the means. I suppose going for a specific prize isn't bad, so long as that's not a writer's only motive.

  28. A combo of 2 and 3. I write because I have to.

  29. I still go back to the love of writing. It's a compulsion! I want to be published so I can earn the money needed to carry on writing.

    Ellie Garratt

  30. I think I'm a combination of number 3, and a simple need to write. I can't not do it--I've tried. When I'm not writing, I'm miserable. So why not try to combine that need to write with a need for a paycheck? :P

    Plus, when I come up with a really cool idea, all I want to do is share it with other people who might think it's cool, too. And what is writing a book, other than that desire, in its extreme form?

  31. I write because I must, but I strive for publication I suppose because I want that validation. And to call myself an "author." Wouldn't that be lovely? :)

  32. I like all of the reasons you have listed. Like Susan Fields mentioned in her comment, it's the validation and to call yourself an author. People may say, okay you're a writer, but until you are published, they don't want to say you are an author.

  33. To get more readers. That's it really. I want to share my stories with people. Although a little extra money wouldn't *hurt*...

  34. Because this is my dream, and I've got stories that just have to be told, dad-gummit.


    Lynda, you always have the best posts. So encouraging. Thank you!

  35. I think as long as you love writing the stories, that the rest doesn't matter.

  36. Yes I saw Rachna's post last week and enjoyed it. My reasons are for sharing my story and to fill a gap in the market.

  37. Old Kitty, yeah, the story of that author is amazing.

    Alex, well, you're already rich and famous ;)

    Suze, I agree

    Dezzy, Does it become less exciting with each book you're able to hold in your hands?

    Al, they are popular ones

    Carol, yeah the money part is just a bonus on top of the joy of writing.

    E J Wesley, thank you for your amazing, thoughful comment. It's so true: we are only as successful as we decide we are successful. I also agree that folks who self-publish should feel just as proud as those traditionally published. It all takes a huge amount of work.

  38. KarenG, yeah stories like that can be depressing. I could never be so single minded.

    Dorothy, It IS a blessing to have stories come with ease. :)

    Nina, aah, yes. I had forgotten that one.

    Raquel, fantastic! Congrats :)

    Charmaine, haha. Self-publishing requires a lot of work on the marketing side with no publishing house to back you up. Of course, traditional publishing requires query letters. Shudder. ;)

    Liza, It might smack of letting others define your success, but I can relate. It's what I want too.

    Paul, your reasons for writing and getting that writing published are fantastic!

    Aldrea, hehe, all good reasons.

    Michael, so true. A well written book with a cracking good story will go far no matter what genre it is.

    Nas, I say yes if you don't give up

  39. LynNerd, Regarding the Booker Prize author, the more informed we are about a particular market, the higher the odds rise for success.

    Sarah, you like rollercoasters huh? You like the screaming and the feeling of impending doom around each bend? ...yeah, so do I ;)

    Laura, work smerk. Writing is worth starvation! ;)

    Dawrei, traditional publishing is definitely the slower route.

    Clarissa, hahaha. Like Alex, you are already rich and famous ;) And yes, feedback is awesome!

    Lee, you're already part of a community of individuals with a similar mindset ;)

    Rachna, someitmes the stories in our hearts have to be written trend or no trend.

  40. Pam, sharing the blessings. Yes!

    theboldprint, great reasons.

    Mark, I find it difficult to beleive a writer could finish a novel with strictly one goal in mind. It would have to be a massive goal.

    M Pax, sounds familiar ;)

    Ellie, money is handy but not essential ;)

    Meagan, absolutely!

    Susan, you can call yourself an author now. Publication is just a bonus.

    Susanne, I used to think that way too, but I think it's important to call ourselves authors before we get published. It is after all who we are (published or not).

    Girl Friday, fantastic reason!

    Alyssia, hehe and dreams are important.

    Shari, yes indeed

    D U Okonkwo, filling the gap is important but it's getting harder these days with publishers not wanting to take risks.

  41. "Dezzy, Does it become less exciting with each book you're able to hold in your hands?"

    sadly, it kinda does :( When I went to bookstores and book fairs it used to thrill me when I'd see dozens and dozens of my books all around on the shelves and tables, and in people's hands, and when I'd see my name in Serbian national library, but now the excitement is not that big, but it's still there :)

  42. 1, 3, and 4 resonate with me the most. Great list. :)

  43. I write because I can't refuse the urge any longer. I write because I want to hear just once, "your story touched my heart." Everything else is a bonus. :)

  44. Dezzy, aaah, I was wondering about that. At least it's still there if a little muted. :)

    Medeia, thanks

    Ciara, It's all a bonus :)

  45. I love all of the above, actually! I'd have to say they're all my reasons at varying degrees. :)


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