Monday, February 2, 2015

Does Getting Published Equal Nirvana? by Michelle Griep

Michelle Griep
Hey fellow writers, Annette here. Sometimes we writers look to publishing contracts for validation. Perhaps then our friends, church family, bio family will take our writing career seriously. Because if a publisher wants our book, our work is valuable. Right? In one sense this is true. If a professional editor and then a pub board give us the thumbs-up, our hard work on learning and practicing the craft has paid off. But is a contract the only way to be validated in our circles? Our guest today tackles that very question. Read on! 

Does Getting Published Equal Nirvana?
by Michelle Griep

Attracting the attention of a publisher, receiving a fat advance in the mail, basking in the joy of seeing your novel on a bookstore shelf, these are indeed the sweet little bon bons that puff up a writer’s self-esteem and validate them as a “for real” author. . . but should they? Must one be published to call oneself a legit writer?


I’m here to blow out of the water this sea monster of a myth. A writer writes. Period. Do you write? Then read these words, memorize them, tattoo them on your palm so you can smack yourself in the head every time you doubt . . .


It doesn’t matter what you write. It doesn’t matter if you’re published or not. It doesn’t even matter if the best you can do is scribble cat, rat, and mat in chalk on the sidewalk. If you scrawl down words in any way, shape, or form, then you, little cowboy, are a writer. But there are a few residual questions to clear up . . .

Does signing a contract with a traditional publisher mean you can slap on some lipstick and kiss all your anxieties good-bye?

Double nope.

Once you sign on the dotted line with a traditional publisher and think you’ve arrived, it’s welcome to Worry-About-Marketing Land with a day trip to I-Wish-My-Sales-Were-Bigger City. The grass is NOT greener on the publishing side. There is always something more to stress over. Contentment is not an external event. It’s an internal choice. Choose to live in and enjoy every moment, whether that’s your first years of bumbling pitches and rejected queries, or 1-star reviews and dismal sales.

Are traditionally published writers higher up the “authorly” food chain because they’re better than the lowly self-published mealworms?

A big, fat nopety-nope with a side of no-no sauce.

Don’t worry. I’m not going to go into a self-publishing vs. traditional publishing rant here. The point I want to make is that both publishing options are valid. Yes, there’s a lot of drivel on the self-publishing shelves because some people pump out a book hoping for fame and fortune, bypassing the hard work of writing and the expense of hiring an editor. But I’ve also occasionally stepped in steaming piles of literary manure produced by traditional publishers.

Before you go casting stones, realize that authors in both camps have glass houses worth shattering—and they also each have stunning and exquisite works of art. Box up your judgmental attitude and coexist already.

The bottom line is this: getting published by a traditional publisher is a noble goal, one that most writers hope to attain. It’s a worthy ambition, something to strive for, but never, ever—ever—tie in that goal with self-worth.

Writer off the Leash

Like what you read? There’s more. WRITER OFF THE LEASH: GROWING IN THE WRITING CRAFT is a kick in the pants for anyone who wants to write but is stymied by fear, doubt, or simply doesn’t know how to take their writing to the next level.

Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. Follow her adventures and find out about upcoming new releases at her blog, Writer Off the Leash, or stop by her website. Her latest novel, Brentwood's Ward, released January 1, 2015. You can also find her at the usual haunts of Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.