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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Discouraged...

   
Author Topic: Discouraged...
Lissa
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Fellow Hatrackers:

Writing a novel is a daunting process in and of itself. It takes courage, creativity and focus. Of course, you all know that.

I have to admit to some real discouragement and depression over the past few weeks as I continue to read posts about the difficulty of publishing and, in particular, the recent thread regarding corrupt agents, etc. I am having trouble writing and channeling the passion when it seems to be a futile effort. I wish I could lay claim to the altruism of writing for the pure joy of it. That is not enough for me; I want to be published. How can I climb out of this funk I am in? I need reassurance that there are still good people out there who will be a noble advocate for the writer. I need to trust that all my work is not in vain. Please don't flame me; my past writing has been theatrical and I have always had the producers to support it. Writing a novel seems to be an entirely different animal.

How are the rest of you handling this disturbing news? I never expected it to be easy; however, when even our mentor, KDW, admits to the sadness if it all, I am distraught.

Help??

Lissa


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Meredith
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In any business there are the good, the bad, the corrupt, and the incompetent. That's life. Yes, I am convinced that there are still good agents out there. Probably harder to get these days, but out there.

Yes, with the current publishing climate it's probably harder right now. But that's not going to last. One way or another, the system is going to reach the breaking point and have to transform itself. This happens to every mature and somewhat stodgy industry eventually. The industry either revitalizes under the challenge or fades and is replaced with something fresher. Publishing can't continue to operate as a nineteenth-century industry any more. E-publishing may just be the straw that breaks the camel's back.

And there are plenty of recent examples of people who've made it through the system, even as broken as it is. Some by the traditional route, some by new and innovative means (like Amanda Hocking).

All we can do at this end is continue to hone our craft and keep plugging. Thing is, these days, the gatekeepers can't keep you out forever. Not with e-publishing available.


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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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But you've got experience that people have been willing to support, and you've done well at it, right?

You are way ahead of so many aspiring writers out there because of what you already know about characterization and plotting and such.

You need to do two things. First, believe in your story and don't give up on it, and second, learn all you can about the business, so that when someone tries to get you to sign a bad contract, you can know it's a bad contract and RUN away.

It isn't impossible, it just requires a lot of work, and you already know that.


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Corin224
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Lissa,

First off, I've never been published, either, so take my words with a grain of salt.

But, in my experience, there are ALWAYS people out there ready to do the right thing. In EVERY industry, EVERYWHERE in the world. Publishing / Writing, Theater, Movies, Software, Marketing, Music, Finance, Used Car Sales . . .

There are ALWAYS people out there who will be ready to screw anybody they can for a buck. There will be those misguided, spineless chaps who think they have to play just as dirty as their competitors, but wish they didn't. There will be those hopelessly ignorant idealists who go broke sticking to their guns.

And there will ALWAYS be those precious few out there, who not only know how to get the job done, but can do it honestly, while holding the corruption at bay.

But in every case, YOU have to watch out for YOUR interests. Be grateful when you find that honest competent agent or publisher or lawyer who will watch out for you, too. But never stop watching out for yourself.

I guarantee you . . . if you can hack it as a writer, you can find a way to get published. It WILL take a lot of work, and you will probably want to stab yourself in the eye with a fork, just to experience something a bit less painful for a while, but there is always a way.

Just don't give up. That's the ONLY sure way to never get published.

Believe me, I know.

As far as the depression and distress, I've been there, just in a different profession. I get it. And you just gotta indulge it for a SMALL while . . . an hour . . . a day . . . a week . . . whatever, and then get past it and keep plugging away.

Now that I'm done spewing cliches, hopefully you're slightly encouraged, but if not, here are a plethora of other Hatrackers to lend their support as well!

*Corin gestures behind himself, then steps out of the way, disappearing stage left*


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Foste
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This is going to sound generic so brace yourself... But I mean it.

Write. Write some more. Submit. Submit. Submit.

And learn. Always keep learning about the business.

And most importantly... Enjoy it.


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MartinV
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Lissa, if you're confused, ask here on Hatrack or ask one of those writers who warn us about the perils of real world.

And don't worry if you get discouraged occasionaly. I also lose faith in my writing and I doubt we're the only ones. Take a break from writing for a few days and after that you will feel the call of it again.


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redux
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I might be in the minority here, but based on that blog article regarding contracts and agents I didn't get the sense that the system is corrupt. I got the impression that everything was written in plain sight in the contract and the writers willingly signed it. There was no coercion.

Now, if you were to ask me, do I think the industry is in favor of writers? No.

Has it ever been? Not really.

Everything I've read about the publishing industry is that it is a business and like any business it is about money and leverage. New authors have very little leverage in the industry - they are an unknown quantity, while established and proven authors benefit from greater bargaining power.

It can certainly feel overwhelming, but don't let it dishearten you. Write what you love and educate yourself on contracts, agents, and publishers. The more you know the less likely you will be taken advantage of. This applies to any industry.

Edit:
PS
I re-read my post and it seems like a downer. I'm not trying to say that writing is just about the money and if you're a "nobody" then you don't stand a chance. On the contrary, I want to emphasize that because publishing is a business anyone stands a chance so long as you are offering a good and marketable "product." Whichever route you choose - traditional publishing or self-publishing - I believe there's an audience out there for your story. So, persevere.

[This message has been edited by redux (edited May 10, 2011).]


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Wordcaster
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I think Foste said it well. You have to enjoy it. The writing process can't just be a means to an end -- it has to be something you desire in your spare moments. Otherwise the journey probably isn't worth the cost.

I plan on getting my novel published one way or another. Even if I have to self-publish -- but it would be great to work with someone who can professionally package it and mass-distribute it. After meeting a small-press publisher, I see there is some middle ground above POD, but it still might require some of your own salesmanship.


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History
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1. Foste's advice is what I find most frequently stated by most published authors.

Writing is a skill that, as with many things,improves with practice. Thus, the more you write (and the more you submit) the greater your chance to beat the odds and be published.

It is advice I, too, should follow--but I'm admittedly a fairweather writer, particularly with my work schedule.

2. You should also ask yourself "Why do I write?" The only good answer, in my humble opinion, is because it gives you pleasure--particularly the joy of playing with words like an artist plays with paint and a musicion with notes.

3. As you may have read here, and elsewhere, e-publishing provides you the opportunity to publish your work without an agent or editor or publishing house. And the internet has millions of potential readers and critics.

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob


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Owasm
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I agree with Dr. Bob. You can make the transition from e-pub to traditional publishing. I was at a doctor appointment (not with Dr. Bob) and we chatted for a minute. I told him I wrote as a hobby and he asked where he could read my work. I can't even remember the publication names of the two short stories I've had published, the markets were so obscure.

I don't think I can wait two years to see a novel in print and that's after I convince a prejudiced agent to convince a prejudiced publisher to buy my work that's not in a hot genre right now.

All the article about agents did is reinforce the fact that we, as writers, have to take more ownership of the publishing process. That doesn't mean to write poor prose, but there are alternatives.

You have to remember that there are alternative ways to get your work out into the marketplace that doesn't involve you doing a vanity publishing run of hardcover books. I'm excited about it.

You can get novels published by a traditional publisher AND get some of your work out there as an e-book.

[This message has been edited by Owasm (edited May 10, 2011).]


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Tiergan
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yeah it does get discouraging, no doubt about it. I go through waves, months where I write everyday and then weeks where I struggle to actually write much of anything. Thats why I once listed myself as semi-pro.

As far as getting down. I can only ask this, Do you enjoy writing? If the answer is yes, then keep doing it. Getting published may be the ultimate goal, but its only one step in the process.


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LDWriter2
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quote:

Fellow Hatrackers:
Writing a novel is a daunting process in and of itself. It takes courage, creativity and focus. Of course, you all know that.

I have to admit to some real discouragement and depression over the past few weeks as I continue to read posts about the difficulty of publishing and, in particular, the recent thread regarding corrupt agents, etc. I am having trouble writing and channeling the passion when it seems to be a futile effort. I wish I could lay claim to the altruism of writing for the pure joy of it. That is not enough for me; I want to be published. How can I climb out of this funk I am in? I need reassurance that there are still good people out there who will be a noble advocate for the writer. I need to trust that all my work is not in vain. Please don't flame me; my past writing has been theatrical and I have always had the producers to support it. Writing a novel seems to be an entirely different animal.

How are the rest of you handling this disturbing news? I never expected it to be easy; however, when even our mentor, KDW, admits to the sadness if it all, I am distraught.

Help??

Lissa


Hmm, a lot of things here. I won't flame for anything you said here, and even though I haven't read everyone's posts I don't think anyone else will either.

Discouragement is a real enemy for most of us, I have been having a problem with that but for other reasons. And sometimes I have problems writing also for a variety of reasons.

Yes, publishing is hard to get into these days but its not impossible. Go to the bookstore and look at all the new writers. In twos years or so there's been a deluge of new writers. So there is no reason to give up right now, and a lot of what we are talking about deals with the large publishers, there are smaller ones that might be easier to get into.

As to agents, yeah some of the newer ones are rip offs or have a different idea about how to help their clients and in some cases not being able to help their clients but we don't need agents to get published. A lot of writers got their first contract without one and others hired an IP lawyer to help with the contract. A lawyer charges one fee and your done...no having to pay them for the life of the novel. That means you have to know more about the business of publishing but that is possible. Some writers are doing it all themselves even though that means really knowing the business.


This didn't come as that much of a shock because I have been reading comments -both good and bad comments- about agents for more than six months. And I handle this by knowing there is now another way to get published we can completely ignore agents and the large publishers if we want to. This new way may take more work but the rewards are more and in a lot of ways less hassles.


Remember there are still ways to get published...I want to be. I want to see my name on a book and get paid for it. :So you're not alone.


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LDWriter2
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I didn't have the time to say everything I wanted to say:

You might try http://lauraresnick.com

If I recall correctly she is doing everything herself these days. If you do think about going that route, she might be able to give you some hints or tell you it can be done even if it makes more work for the writer.

Writing fiction novels is a different animal...a special, unique, wonderful, frustrating animal we love to pet and to take care of but it has some special needs. It needs to be groomed and fed correctly: we need to learn how to do both in the right way. It can be done, some of us take longer but the vast, vast, majority of you will make it as you continue to work at it. I find it fun and sometimes very fulfilling to write.


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MAP
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Don't get discouraged.

I'm not ready to give up on traditional publishing yet, but I think the key is to know what you are signing and be willing to walk away from a bad deal.

Self-publishing is becoming a real viable option, and those who are good at self-promoting and know how to write, will do well.

Personally, I don't think I'd be good at self-promotion (and yes I know that authors have to do it even if they are traditionally published but not to the same extent). Traditional publishing has a lot to offer me, but I'm not going to let myself be taken advantage of.

The tools are here for us to learn about publishing and contracts, and we need to take advantage of that and decide what we are willing to give for the services publishers provide. I do not believe that the whole publishing world are snakes in the grass, but I do think that the ignorant will be taken advantage of.

The publishing world is no different than any other business. Everyone is out to make a buck.

But I agree with the others who said you really need to love to write. We put so much time in with no guarantee that we will be monetarily compensated for it. Writing itself has to be part of the reward.

[This message has been edited by MAP (edited May 11, 2011).]


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Lissa
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My thanks to all of you! I have read and re-read every one of your comments. There has been insight and compassion. I am grateful to be on this site. There is an obvious concession that I need TO LEARN THE BUSINESS! I suppose that is inevitable <grin> and I think I can do that. Self-publishing sounds daunting but it is an avenue that looks good for me. As for "self-promotion," I am good at that because of all my years in the theatre.

I will keep writing (although, without the same naivete').

Lissa


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Meredith
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If you don't already subscribe to David Farland's Weekly Kick in the Pants. Do it now. Get today's kick.

All about the trouble the industry is in. Who is ultimately going to pay for it. And a possible solution.


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Lissa
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Meredith! We are on the same mailing list. LOL

I actually just read David's missive and headed right over here to share. Looks like you "beat me to the punch."

I cannot fully express how elated I was to read it. Are we allowed to cut and paste it over here?

Lissa


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LDWriter2
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quote:

I will keep writing (although, without the same naivete').

Very good...and the second part is probably good also.


But publishing has always been daunting even during the Golden Age when it was easier to get published. I meant easier than now, I don't think it has every been super easy.


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Natej11
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Just to add my own woes to the list, Lissa, I got my first answer from the recent batch of submissions I've sent out. Unfortunately it was a form letter rejection from the publishing company and I spent the night feeling down about it. To add injury to insult it was the one publishing company that asked for the entire manuscript and not just a query, so it was also the most expensive submission >.<.

Based on how quickly it arrived and the fact that it only drew a form letter response I have to assume the manuscript was given only cursory inspection, which is discouraging in its own right. But oh well, other irons in the fire and my current WiP to send out once I finish it .


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shimiqua
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Harry Potter was rejected a bunch of times.

I think you just have to believe in your work, and believe in yourself. And do your best to make sure that you don't confuse the two.

I was really involved in theater for several years, and I once had a professor tell me that while auditioning you have to think of your talent as if you were trying to sell a bunch of encyclopedias. People will either need letters j-m or they wont.

It's not a reflection on you. Or on your ability to be successful.

Just keep writing. Just keep falling in love with your own stories, and characters, and eventually you will find someone who thinks the same way you do. Hopefully that person will have the power to introduce you to more readers.

~Sheena


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Axis Dervan
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I experience that feeling every single time I start to write. Writing comes with its own joys and frustrations, and when I get frustrated I often start wondering if its even worth it because I doubt my work will ever be published.
I agree with a lot of the comments I read above. For the most part, publishers seem to stick to what they know will sell, and as a business they don't like taking risks.
That being said, here's your motivation: Zen and the Art of Motercycle Maintenance (which happens to be one of my favorite books of all time) sold 5 million copies worldwide. The funny thing is, it was originally rejected by 121 publishers.
The moral of the story is that eventually someone will see the brilliance in your art and take a chance on you.

Hope that helped relieve some of the anxiety!


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