Thursday, December 5, 2013

Publishing: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

When I started on my journey toward publishing three years ago, I was pretty idealistic, which came from ignorance mostly, but also just the excitement of accomplishing something most people never do—publishing a full-length novel, traditionally, I might add, because, at the time, that was important to me.  My, how things have changed.

All wannabe writers and soon-to-be published authors have stars in their eyes, dreaming of hitting it big, or even just having a few people read their work.  Whatever their expectations, come launch day, there are a lot of surprises. 

The best part of the publishing world are the friendships.  Most all are virtual, meaning we hardly ever get to meet in person, but that doesn’t diminish the magnitude or impact.  These are the people I talk to on a daily basis.  We help each other network and promote, and generally just keep each other from going crazy, and there’s a lot to make an author crazy.  And the fans...oh wow, that's something I never even considered.  They're like the super rich frosting on top of it all, my very favorite part!  

The bad part?  All the distractions.  We’re writers.  All we really want to do is write.  But when you have a book to sell, mostly what you end up doing is marketing.  All.  The  Time.  I mean, who’s going to buy book two if you haven’t sold much of book one?  So away we go onto social media, sharing our links and reviews.  It’s the single biggest time-suck there is—Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, blogging, all of it…social media is essential to success, especially if you’re indie or small press. 

The ugly part?  Bullying and deceit.  For a published author, a review is like gold, or maybe lead.  While not all potential readers evaluate based on reviews, many do, and, to some extent, both authors and readers alike tend to judge success, or the lack thereof, based on the number and quality of reviews, however irrational. 

The juicing and purchasing of illegitimate reviews has left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth, especially readers, some of whom have turned to trashing the names of both guilty and innocent authors via their blogs, Amazon, and Goodreads.  The answer?  Be authentic, and don’t engage via review sites.  Ever.  That’s hard whether it be a reviewer you want to hug or hit.  Reading is subjective, and we have to accept that, whether we’re being judged fairly or not.

Regardless, publishing has been a real joy for me.  Hard work?  You bet.  But I’m enjoying way more perks than pits.  And my journey has only just begun.  My next hurdle will be self-publishing.  But I have so many wonderful, generous indie friends now, I know I’ll make it work.  

Nancy S. Thompson is the author of the romantic thriller, The Mistaken.

Find her on Facebook & Twitter

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