The Beauty of My Mistakes in Publishing
1.Write your story
Medium tells writers to: Write your story. Isn’t that enough for it to be numero uno on my list?
Jokes aside, each of us is a unique observer of life and have the opportunity to share our unique points-of-view in a variety of ways. Every time we unconsciously act, we tell a story. Each moment we take the time to sincerely thank someone for a service, we a tell a story. All of the experiences in between both extremes of consciousness tell stories. They are important!
Write your story because without telling it, the world loses the chance to feel what your have to share.
2. Edit… Edit. Edit!
In the beginning, I didn’t think editing was important. I was in such a rush to publish and put something out there because I was desperate to share what was burning inside that it felt appropriate to push on and be done.
That being said, I wrote my first manuscript in three weeks, a 150 pg. reflection on my take on the concept of Mindfulness, mixed with humor, and life lessons, and…
I have not published it. I actually really like the piece but in the edits since, it has not quite felt right. Not only is editing important so that there aren’t typos, unintentional grammatical errors (because sometimes we can break the grammar rules to make a point), it is important because in the process of editing one can learn so much more and have a better product.
When I finally published my first book, it had gone through intense edits by myself, an Editor, I’d sought out readers, and guess what, the finished product still has typos, the same way best-selling novels do because Human Error is inevitable.
But… the piece felt right. It was my third manuscript and though what I was trying to say was said in the second manuscript, the third felt like the “vehicle” to share what needed sharing for me.
3. Accept your Worst Critic
If you can accept the old adage, “You are your own Worst Critic” and release it then you can move past the hugest obstacles in publishing.
I have judged and torn apart every piece of writing that I have ever done. In the past, it crippled me to sharing my work even though people would both compliment and critique it.
The best form of feedback is criticism from outside of that voice haunting your brain because even though it can sting, someone took the time to share/it struck a chord in them so you’re on the right track imo.
And the good stuff? Well the compliments kind of pass by quickly because of that hauting voice within but it can also feel nice.
Regardless of external stimuli and input, what’s going on inside can make or break how you feel about your work, and in the end, that is what is more important than millions of dollars, best-seller status, and adulation.
4. Honor where you have been
I cringe when I look back on some of the very early writings that I have published on my blog, in magazines, contributed to other online sites, and my first book.
Were it not for any of that, I would have not grown as a Writer, taken steps towards publishing my work, and I would have not developed further as a Human + Being.
In the end, that is most important to me in my own Journey.
5. Don’t be afraid to re-write
This is a bit different than editing. Though you can re-write elements of your work when editing, a re-write in and of itself is a different beast. When I had the central component of what I wanted to share in a published book, it took many drafts of two manuscripts, before I felt good about one for publication.
The process of re-writing is pretty cool to because one can just sense when something “feels right.” Having a good feeling about your work is cool too because you have to live with whatever it is.
6. Research Publishers
*I have submitted query letters only to receive no response. I have looked for different online publishers in “my genre” and focus area to choose one and then have a mixed experience after my money was paid to their organization in full. I have turned my nose at self-publishing to later self-publish myself and see how amazing it is. I have read article after article, magazine after magazine, blog after blog, book after book, so on, so forth, etc./i.e./wt…efff.
And you know? None of that is important. What is important is creating a budget, choosing what you’re going to go with, whether you have a contract with a publisher or choose to self-publish, and ultimately, have a plan to market and share your work.
I have published three books to date and it didn’t occur to me until after the third that perhaps I should write and share a press release. I’d seen the idea before but it took working in Marketing to teach me about Marketing that it started to click about what’s important. You could have the greatest story ever but if people don’t know it’s out…
If you need any more argument of marketing, how many crappy movies have you seen because of the hype and trailers? How many of the movies that are nominated for the Academy Award Best picture have you actually seen before you found it was nominated or it came out on DVD/Blu-Ray? Chances are many more of the former and your lucky if you’re even able to find the latter in a theatre near you before it’s nominated.
*Please note, in no way am I discounting the value of different options to release your work. Do whatever feels best for you . It is just my hope to emphasize how Marketing is more important than the vehicle in the end and that’s something I didn’t get until the bumps in the road I experienced, which were great because of how much the lumps I have experienced have taught me.
7. Be prepared to self-promote
Similar to the importance of marketing, it is also important to share what you’ve done on your own. Just because you wrote the darn thing doesn’t mean bury it in a field…
It has always been hard for me to say, I did this, I did that, yet when I write, arguably something I feel suited for and comfortable doing, I use “My” and “I” quite a bit.
Challenge for me has been overcoming being shy and not good enough. In my Journey, I’ve often confused modesty and humility with false humility. It’s one thing to not share because you don’t feel the need, it’s another to hide what you’ve created because on a core level you don’t feel good enough.
It’s okay, it’s welcome to share your work and your accomplishments. It doesn’t make you cocky, if anything, owning the confidence that comes with setting a goals and achieving them, is something that will be great for you as an individual and in your publishing voyage.
Creating anything from start to finish is a labor of love…
In addition to moments of irritation, anger, despair, and the trials and tribulations that come along the way, there are also the a-ha moments, the great feelings of putting pen to paper or words to screen, and what you learn along the way.
I’ve heard it shared many times that life is all about Love, Love is the Be All, and Love is why we are here.
Love the process of bringing your work to life. Love the challenges you encounter because when you find a way through them, around them, above or below them, it makes the experience all the better!
9. Read. And often.
I find my greatest sparks come from two areas: experience and reading.
Now the act of reading is also an experience in and of itself but experiences are the vast elements in this Journey that help us define characters, struggles, and craft how these characters overcome such adversity. Reading helps us to see things through eyes we haven’t and recall our own experiences because of the feelings we experience when processing what we are reading.
I have enjoyed reading ever since I was a child. I remember that. I don’t remember enjoying writing because it has always been just something that I did, often, sometimes well-enough to get good grades in classes that required much of it, and yeah. But reading took me to another world back then and still has the ability to do so!
Reading also serves to take us into the mind of another Human+Being and take a tour through the words that come through them. It’s kind of like, there are mountains and trees all over, yet if you really take the time to observe and experience, though there are similar features, each differs and can be a great teacher.
I personally really love reading and I’m sure a million places say that reading makes you a better writer and though I wouldn’t doubt that, I think reading is important because it is part of appreciating the written word.
Words, I believe, are gifts. I will never meet Plato but I can read his work and “hear” his voice, I can get an idea of who he was, what he was about, and how that relates to me many years later.
That’s pretty cool if you think about it…
10. Disregard everything that I have said…
And use what works for you.
These were my 10 lessons (thus far) but that doesn’t mean they have to be yours. There may be some elements in here that are helpful and if so, chee huu (Hawaii Creole English for awesome/stoked/oh-yayer) because I enjoy giving back and assisting others, but in the end, Life is your Journey, the same way your written word is your written word.
It’s going to have more meaning for you if you’re living it yourself.
A few years ago, I experienced a great period of loss (laid off, end of relationship, Death in the family) in a two week period of time, and it kicked me in the ass to go across the country, something that I had always wanted to do. It took me two-trips from my home in Honolulu, Hawaii, but I did it and the experience of it is what was mine and mine alone and helped me to grieve, heal, and grow.
It also helped me to have more experiences, be more open, and got me around to finally having courage to publish. I’m no millionaire because of my writing, yet.
Shoot I’m not even a thousandaire or hundredaire, yet, but I don’t write because I need it to pay my bills. I write because it’s a passion and it helps me through the days and move beyond the tough times, which can be short and extreme like that period of loss, or take place over a longer period.
As much as this is a gift to share with others, it’s a gift I can enjoy as well, much like good ole life itself and that a-okay with me.