Swigging The Muse, Fighting The Urge   Leave a comment

Nope. Sorry to disappoint, but this little post is not about the hazards of addiction, or alcoholism in the writing profession. Well maybe one addiction, but we’ll get to that in a moment. As far as alcoholism goes; I take the fifth. Maybe the pint, but that’s another story. 😉

This post is about the most insidious addiction any aspiring author can face: The desire to get published. Like all addictions this one has more hidden traps than a politician has lies. If we’re not careful it can also land you in a hole that Betty Ford can’t dig you out of.

Besides our love of storytelling, and much like a drug, there are few things that will give a writer a bigger high than when the muse is pouring out full force. Hence the first half of the title. When we are hitting the groove, and the well of clever creativity seems bottomless, that’s when the addiction to publish rears its ugly head. We become as desperate as a heroin junky to have our baby shown to the world. If Satan showed up at that moment with a contract in hand, we would jump at the chance, or at least seriously consider it. The problem is he often does, but doesn’t look like himself so we’ll be more likely to take the bait.

By now, most of us know about the land sharks that swim through the business of writing. If not, then I suggest bookmarking two sites that can help the newbie to identify these publishing leeches. One of the best is Predators and Editors. The other is, Writer Beware by the SFWA.

However, these are not the only forms the publishing addiction devil can take. One of the worst, and most devious is when he takes the form of YOU. When Louis Binstock first said, “Very often we are our own worst enemy…”, he wasn’t lying, and that little cliche deserves a place carved in gold.

A true story, and I’m not naming names because this can happen to anyone and I don’t want to embarrass, only illustrate. A very talented writer I know recently epublished a very good novel. Thinking that they had exhausted their list of agents, and none of them were interested they decided to go to the readers with their book. Normally this is a very good tactic these days. You have to work your tailbone off to get some recognition, but your story has a chance of gaining a audience and you have a chance to gain a career. All in all it is a smart move. Unless, as in their case, an agent you forgot about suddenly pops up asking for a look at the manuscript.

Yep, that is just what happened, and my heart goes out to them. Most agents won’t touch a story once it has been epublished, and neither will most publishing houses. The possible exception being a story that is raking in the bucks. Even then, they would be likely to offer publishing your next book instead of going with the epublished one. In a way it’s not really fair, since you did all the work gaining a readership, and now they want a piece of your pie, but that’s the way it plays out most of the time.

Let’s face it; epublishing and POD (Print On Demand) publishing is something of a godsend to a struggling author. But, if you allow the addiction of getting published to drive you like a mule team, it can also be your worst enemy.

Another way this “golden goose” can trip you up is by turning out bad writing. As hard as it is to live down a bad reputation in the real world, it can be a thousand times worse here in cyberspace. Especially if that rep goes viral. At that point your probably better off turning to a pen name and starting all over again from scratch.

This is why an editor or, a whole trailer truck of beta readers, is so important in serious epublishing. Even then there are no guarantees, but at least your not putting the noose on yourself, and jumping off the gallows on your own.

The point to all this drivel? Haste does indeed make waste. Being in a rush to publish is usually a suicide charge into a machine gun nest. If your very lucky, you might only get wounded, odds are your gonna get cut in half.

This is a slow business, no matter how you approach it. Take your time, get it right, and most of all do not jump at the chance to get published in any form. You have all the time that is left to you. Make it work for you, instead of against you, and keep that addiction locked up tight in a little cell somewhere.

In the end, you may just be glad you did.

Later, Gang.

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