Writing: A Change in Direction.

For the past few months, I have been submitting short stories to competitions. I have been doing this on and off over a number of years and despite the continual knock backs, I have been successful once. Perhaps this is why I continue to persevere; after all, when it comes to writing, we do have to be in this for the long haul. However, there also comes a time when we have to admit when something isn’t working and need to consider our alternatives.

It was very timely, therefore that I read a couple of posts by Kristen Lamb Pay the Writer 2 – Out Hustle the Hustlers and Writing Exposure – Gamble or Grift? that got me thinking. The rules of publishing these days have changed. Many writers like myself are of the old belief that if we write and get exposure we are helping to build our CV. This will eventually lead to work coming our way. These days, however, the old rules no longer apply and that older way of thinking can be a bit hard to shake off.

The reality is that by sending my work out to competitions, I’m still waiting for that ‘validation’ for the gatekeepers to accept me. Because I allow my fear and insecurity to hold me back, I need someone to tell me whether I’m good enough for this game and each rejection adds to those insecurities. At the same time, though, those knock backs are a good way to help develop that thick skin. We keep holding on for that win. But the competition is fierce and the win may never come.

Writing for exposure is fine when writing is a hobby, but when it comes to taking your writing seriously and being paid for it, we may need to be a bit more selective. We should be the ones benefiting from our writing and not giving our work away so freely in order to benefit others. My one and only ‘win’ at least taught me that there can indeed be benefits.

One of my beta readers suggested I compile my short stories and self-publish. I’ve been thinking of doing exactly that for some time, but it is fear that is preventing me from doing so. I know that I have now reached a point in my writing where self-publishing is the road I will be travelling. It’s a long road and to begin with it’s going to be pretty rough. In the end though, I do believe that the journey will be worth it. So, who’s with me?

Does fear and insecurity hold you back? Will you be going down the path of self-publishing? If you’re self-published, has it turned out better than you expected? Have you won any writing competitions? Have you become more selective when it comes to your writing?

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13 thoughts on “Writing: A Change in Direction.

  1. I will not self publish, because it’s already impossiblely challenging to get sales when you traditionally publish, as I did. But I have yet to land a second book contract since my first one (with small pub company). But it sucks, basically, it’s a rough road, even with credits behind your name.

    1. Debbie Johansson 07/11/2017 — 1:28 am

      Hi Savannah. Yeah, I hear you! Writing is tough, no matter which path we take. Self publishing may be different, but it doesn’t make it any easier. Sorry to hear you haven’t landed a second book contract yet – I hope you get there soon! 🙂

  2. The posts by Kristen are excellent 🙂 I love how she tells us exactly how we’ve been stuck in the Matrix 😉 Insecurity — and fear of success (check out Kristen’s post about harnessing fear) — definitely makes it difficult to share our writing in published form. I’ve been pushed out of my comfort zone this week (yeah, it’s only Tuesday morning. LOL.) and I’ve started on the self-publishing journey. (I’ll tell you all about it in my post this Sunday.) It’s scary. But it’s time. Good luck with your writing 🙂

    1. Debbie Johansson 07/11/2017 — 10:04 am

      Thanks Ronel! I’ve been enjoying Kristen’s posts lately as she’s certainly given me plenty to think about as well as giving me the kick in the pants I need. 😉 Whichever path we take to get published is not going to be easy, but like you, I think it’s also time I moved out of my comfort zone. I look forward to hearing about your self-publishing journey. Good luck! 🙂

    2. I agree that Kristen’s posts are excellent. I thought this was a great article as well by Graeme Shimmin http://graemeshimmin.com/how-to-get-your-book-published/. I’m eager to read your post this coming Sunday. I’m right at the starting line in terms of a writing career, and boy does the traditional route look steep and financially unrewarding for all but a few lucky stars. More and more, I find myself looking at the world of self-publishing.

      1. Debbie Johansson 07/11/2017 — 11:29 am

        Hi Kathy. Thanks for the heads up on the article by Graeme. I see I’m going to be doing a lot of reading on self publishing in the next few months! Traditional publishing seems to be getting harder and harder to break into and I’m not getting any younger. 😉 Best of luck with your writing endeavours and I look forward to hearing more about your journey. 🙂

      2. Thank you 🙂 I’m not set on just one course of publishing: each book has its own needs. It’s something I’ve learned the last couple of years 😉

  3. Yes. I had the same strategy – get your writing out there and eventually someone will pay you for it. Huh. I started sending short articles to magazines. They never paid and never even said thank you. I did get free subscriptions to their mags though. Yay. Good on you for trying another route. Jacqui Murray at Worddreams has some info/advice on Self Publishing too.

    1. Debbie Johansson 08/11/2017 — 3:09 am

      Thanks ateafan and I’ve had some similar experiences! I always looked for competitions that provide feedback, but these seem few and far between (and recently I saw one that asked for payment for such a service). When you enter a competition only later to hear nothing, even if you didn’t win, it would be nice to know what the judges thought and how you can improve. This is why from now on, I’m going to be a bit more selective when it comes to competitions and look at self-publishing. Thanks for mentioning Worddreams. I haven’t heard of them, so will have a look. 🙂

  4. I share your trepidation. I’m currently chasing the rabbit of publication through literary magazines, always starting with those that offer financial compensation, but I do think there’s something to be said for the exposure, if only as another way of getting your writing in front of bigger and different audiences. If a reader already knows your name, remembers reading a story by you and enjoying it, that’s such a big step towards convincing them to purchase your self published work.
    Of course most literary magazines that I apply to have a specific timeframe to use your story before the rights revert. And if I ever do get a short story published, after that time expires I will republish via self publishing.
    In the case of novels, where the rights are often longer, if not indefinite, I think it all comes back to what you are getting in compensation.
    I definitely agree with Kirsten Lamb that many are acting in their interests, and not the interests of the author, but sometimes, early on, working for exposure can make sense, for some.
    I do think you’re right to try something new though, and if/when you do self-publish, you have a fair number of readers who would definitely be interested :-).

    1. Debbie Johansson 08/11/2017 — 3:28 am

      Thank you so much Adam! 🙂 I started off with small publications where I had some success, but those bigger ones can be harder to crack. I might still enter competitions, but I think I’m going to be a bit more selective from now on. When it comes to exposure, Kristen believes that through blogging and social media you help to build connections and a readership that way. This makes good sense for both publishing routes. I guess it really comes down to trusting your instincts and what you feel comfortable with. Best of luck with the literary magazines!

      1. Gratsi. And to you as well.
        I really love how mutually supportive the blogging community is. We’re all struggling to climb our way up, but always happy to share our knowledge, or offer a little encouragement. Warms the heart :-).

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