I was scrolling through Twitter, following the #Pit2Pub thread, when the thought crept into my mind again: “Why am I doing this?”
Post after post crossed my screen, each representing the hopes of someone just like me: an author longing to become the next Stephen King, John Grisham, or J. K. Rowling.
Or maybe their ambitions are more simple: dreams of holding in their hands a beautiful book with their name on the cover, or seeing their book on the shelves at Barnes & Noble.
After 20 minutes of scrolling and no end in sight, I was tempted once more to forget the whole thing.
I’ve battled doubts like this before
Each time, I shove them down or bury them under busywork. But they always tend to rear their ugly heads again anytime I peek out into cyberspace for a glimpse at all the talented aspiring authors out there.
The publishing industry, like any other creative field, is intensely competitive, and wildly oversaturated with thousands of people who are all striving after the same goal: to break into the business.
With so much competition, it’s tempting to wonder why you’re even bothering to try in the first place.
Answering the “why?” question
The first difficult hurdle of my journey towards becoming a published author was to answer the questions: “Why am I doing this? Why am I trying to become an author? What makes me think that I can succeed where so many others fail?”
For me, the key to answering these questions was to define what my idea of success looked like. If my ultimate measure of a true success was to sell a million copies, I might be perfectly justified to quit before I started.
I distilled my motivations down to 2 specific reasons why I want to become an author:
- I really want to see my book in print. I want to hold it in my hand, feel the weight of it, fan the pages and smell the paper, and see my name on the cover.
- I want to create exiting stories full of magic and adventure to be read and experienced by as many readers as possible.
Both of these goals would be easier and more glamorous to achieve with a lucrative book deal from a big 5 publisher. But they are also very much possible for me to accomplish on my own.
With this is mind, I was able to move forward with a confidence that, even if I never become an internationally famous author with millions of readers, or score that 100k dollar book deal, I know I can accomplish these 2 goals.
Identifying motivations creates a domino effect
After taking the time to identify my motivations, not only was I able to understand why I was pursuing a career as an author, but I was also able to make some clear decisions as to how I would go about it.
I know I can accomplish both of my goals through self-publishing, and so that will become a part of my strategy. But there is also an emphasis on seeing my books on library and bookstore shelves, leading me to also pursue a traditional publishing route with standard distribution.
This is how I made the decision to become a hybrid author. I’ll be publishing a series of YA books with a trditional publisher, and I’ll also be self-publishing other novels and novellas to build a strong backlist of titles. I believe this type of hybrid approach is the best way build a career as an author, enabling me to benefit from the advantages of both traditional and self-publishing.
What about you?
So, what are your motivations? How would you answer the “why” questions? Are you pursuing traditional publishing or self-publishing? I would love to hear from you, either in the comments below or on the Author Guidebook Facebook group.