Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Writing Wednesday: On Publishing

Question: If God calls you to do something, are you automatically great at it?

David was God's choice for King. It seemed unlikely that a boy who did nothing all day but take care of sheep would rule, but that's what God had in store. Did David become king right off? No. He had to grow up, first. He had to go through a lot of turmoil and learn some hard lessons before he became king.

I can't speak for anyone else, but even though God gave me a love for singing, I was not born with an amazing voice. I still think there are better vocalists out there, but I'm not the worst, either. I have a cassette tape I made in 1992, and my singing, IMO is horrible. You can tell I was not gifted with voice. It's not bad for a 14-year-old, maybe, but it wouldn't win any contests. If I am any good at all, it is one, because God allows me to be, and two, I've grown up and learned a few things over the years.

I heard a minister say once, "There is a difference between God's anointing and His appointing. For the most part, I agree. If God calls a person to preach, they have to learn how. No, they don't necessarily need to go to school, but they do need to spend time in the Word and they need to be given opportunities to preach, so they can get some experience under their belt. That is why a lot of denominations are real careful about licensing and ordaining new ministers; they need to grow in the Lord.

I think that this same mentality can be applied to writing. For as long as I can remember, I have been making up stories in my head. Some I wrote, some I didn't. I write some of my own songs, I've written some poetry and I wrote a couple of novels. Does this mean I am an accomplished author? Not necessarily. Does it mean I am called to write? I believe I am.

Just after my first book was published, I reviewed several books published by Publish America. I'm telling y'all, those authors, while they had good story ideas, needed an editor. Now, I'm not trying to point fingers, here, because if you've read "Wild Heart" you'll know that I needed an editor, too. What I am saying, is just because we think we can write, does not mean we can. Just because everybody tells us our book is good, does not mean it is written properly.

In today's market, ebooks, audio books and publishers who pop up over night, what is publishable has changed. But, I think we can all agree, we know a good book when we see it/hear it. lol More people are being heard than ever. FaceBook, Twitter, blogs; if readers can't find you today, there's something wrong. But, is everything you read on the internet publishable?

We can sit and hash out the good and bad about ebooks. We can hash out the good and bad about self-publishers versis mainstream ones, but the fact of the matter remains, people who read, for the most part, buy books from those mainstream publishers. Also, if it can't be bought through Amazon, Barnes and Nobel, or some other store with a large presence, folks are not going to risk it. Of course, more and more people are buying from these self-publishers, like Author House, Lulu, CreateSpace, Whiskey Creek Press, but when I ask around, the answer I get is that folks will buy from a publisher they know they can trust.

I've bought books from Whiskey Creek press, and I have found noticeable mistakes in them. I've read books published by Publish America, and I have found not only obvious mistakes but flat characters in them. I've read books published by Harlequin and found mistakes, as well. BUT, mistakes in books by mainstream publishers are few and far between. These publishing houses who won't read your manuscript without an agent have high standards, and well they should. Am I asking for perfection? Maybe.

Here's what this post boils down to. My writing might be good. In fact, some of it, the stuff I know is totally from the Holy Spirit, is really good. But, I can do better. I am not where I was, but I'm not where I want to be, either. I might be called to write, but I have a lot to learn. Just because I love to do it, does not mean I am an instant success.

I went back and read the prologue to "To Tame A Heart". I'm sorry, y'all but it's awful. Of course, that's just my opinion, but I see so much that is wrong with it that it makes me cringe. I paid a lot of money to have that book put in to audio, and I was considering paying even more to publish with someone else, but now I'm considering rewriting the thing. To all those who are saying a real loud, "NO", thank you for being my biggest fan. Y'all keep me believing in my abilities. But, seriously, I can do better, and I'm tired of throwing money away.

I told my husband the other day, if I had a thousand dollars to spend printing the book, I'd save until I had two thousand and go to a writer's class and learn how to do better. He didn't say anything, but I think he agreed with me.

It's scary, thinking about pitching to an agent. It's daunting, thinking about learning to write a 5 page synopsis. It's enough to make me want to quit, thinking about signing a contract with a mainstream publisher. Some people say I don't need to go that far. But, if the only thing holding me back is the lack of knowledge, then, folks I don't have an excuse. As we all know, the internet is plum full of articles on how to write that 5 page synopsis, so there goes that excuse. I can learn. I can do better, and I'm tired of paying someone to publish my stuff. I want to be paid for it. I want someone to buy my books from Audible.com. I want my books on a bookshelf for $7.99.

Maybe, God has other plans for you. In fact, I'd say that God has different plans for different folks, because as the Word says, not everybody can be an eye. Finding out what God wants for you is up to you. Finding out what He wants for me is up to me. Maybe, I'm being too ambitious, but whenever I get to praying about my books, I feel a gentle urging not to throw anymore money in to self-publishing. So, "To Tame A Heart" might not be available much longer. I might just cancel my contract with CreateSpace and rewrite it. Maybe, I won't, but don't be surprised if I do.

This post did not end up like I thought it was going to. I hope it wasn't discouraging to all you writers out there, because it wasn't meant to be. This particular time in my writing is scary, because I feel the Lord wants me to put forth more of an effort and not take the easy way out. It's hard, cause if you know me at all, I'm all about finding the easier path. So, pray for me, and I'll pray for you. Thanks for reading, and be sure to come back on Friday. I don't know if I'll write about homeschool or not, but you can be sure, I will write. :)

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