Every manuscript or query I receive has a common worry attached, ‘Will I get published Priya?’
I was recently talking to a writer whose work (fantasy fiction) I had assessed. Although the writer is not well known, the concept felt new to the Indian fiction market. Like most writers, they are juggling many roles. Apart from writing novels, they run a small publishing house with a friend and write screenplays and provide digital marketing services.
When they asked my opinion on where should submit their manuscript, I said the usual big 5 apart from a few lesser known but equally good publishers. I found their reaction concerning, ‘But those are big brands!' What that meant was, 'What are you saying Priya? Will they even care about me (not famous) and my work (not a popular genre)?'
I was concerned simply because like any professional editor or agent knows, getting published is hard but not impossible.
Rather, today getting published is fairly easy given the options. Printing is cheaper and faster than say 50 years ago and the technology allows us to publish our work within minutes. So the question is not whether you will get published. I knew their work had potential but I encouraged them to ask instead the more urgent question, ‘What do you want from getting published?’ All of us want to be published but what is it that we are hoping to gain out of the publication? Is it fame? Is it money? What is it that you hope to gain from getting published? Money and fame are fair too but I would like to believe the large majority is seeking something else.
What about recognition and validation? Aren't those necessary? It feels good when someone who is likeminded appreciates our work and even more when a complete stranger or someone who thinks differently likes our writing.
When you are preoccupied with whether you will get published, it reflects a lack of confidence in your efforts. The only thing in our control is what we can manage on the page (i.e. credibility) and how others perceive it (i.e. incredibility) is up to the readers.
Someone's great is someone's poor. Right?
Hence, if you have done everything you could have, on the page, then you are least likely to get bothered about what others think of your work and also rejections, which are normal and routine in publishing.
Instead, if you are looking for reassurance, you will find relief at getting accepted and devastation at rejection. That’s when you may just ask yourself, 'Ok. Hold on. Have I done everything I could have to say what I want to on the page?'
The beautiful thing about the question, ‘What do you want from getting published?’ is unique to who you are.
Think of everything you have written (published and unpublished). Write down the most predominant feeling you experienced during writing. When you look at this feeling, Isn’t that also what you want from getting published? To feel good? To feel satisfied that you did what you had to?
The best thing we can do to feel that way is to do two things as suggested by author and publisher, William Kenower. First figure out what you want to say and then do everything you can to show that on the page.
This way you will start to worry less and enjoy writing more.