59 Comments

Publishing…Not what I thought it’d be.

I’ve been in a major bleh over writing the past month. It’s kinda hard not to be. I’ve seen some things and learned some things now that I’m a published author that, well…that disappoint me about the whole process.

It’s a combination of misconceptions, false expectations, and unexpected reactions. There’s a dynamic shift when a person gets published, that those of us who struggle to be so don’t expect. And on top of that…well, you really get to see who your friends are and who aren’t. I suppose you can chalk some of that up to the green-eyed monster. But it’s still disappointing.

What my bleh boils down to is that I feel like I’m in limbo.

You see, before publishing I was in the “Unpublished Club.” Sure, this club was not always nice. Sure, some people would withhold information or support for fear you’d beat them to publishing. But I found a great support system of like-minded authors all pursuing the same ultimate goal.

Then I got published. Immediately some, but not all, of the “Unpublished Club” disowned me. I guess they felt I wasn’t worthy, and maybe they’re holding a grudge. But even though many of the others still talk with me, there’s a dynamic shift. I’m not really in their club anymore. I can’t really talk writing on their level, because I’m no longer in the same boat.

There’s the published authors. Most have been extremely nice and helpful. They’ve welcomed me into the new “Published Club.” But the “Published Club” has snobs, too. I’m kind of like Jack on Titanic…you know, obviously new money but one of them nonetheless. I’ve been talked to like a child by a published author, which was rather demeaning. Most of these culprits are the industry veterans. Big names with big publishers. I’m not worthy to share their table.

Then there’s the “experts.” You know…the agents, editors, and professionals that work in the industry. The ones who repeatedly told me “No” when I sent them queries. Yeah…they snub me completely now.

And not to forget all the local news outlets. Who’ve ignored me.

In short, I’m in limbo. I don’t really feel like I belong to either club. All in all, I’m not really better off than I was prior to being published. Except now there are less people willing to lend their support. Funny how that happens, isn’t it? The readers like my book, though. And that’s what matters right?

So there’s my bleh. I’m not wanting to whine, just want to keep it real. This is my journey “on the other side,” warts and all. And the reality is, that all those wonderful supportive connections you make as an unpublished author won’t transfer over.  It hurts a little when some of those people were ones you worked hard to develop a professional relationship with and hoped to work with some day. Then to have one of them basically say (though not in these exact words) that I don’t deserve this. That was rather discouraging. I guess there will always be people to look at you and say “you’re not good enough.”

Good thing I don’t write for those people. I write for God, myself, my family, and my fans. I write because it’s what I enjoy doing. I have at least one publisher who believes in me. For this I am thankful. And I will continue to be thankful for all the friends and fans that support me no matter what. Especially the NAF crew…who act like nothing’s changed. Bravo! Chocolate covered peppermint red velvet cake balls all around!

And for being so silent in conversations with those friends and fans due to my bleh. I’m getting over it now. Sorry about that.

-k

www.KevenNewsome.com

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About Keven Newsome

Keven Newsome is a child of God, husband, father, and friend, in that order. He’s also a novelist, musician, and sometimes artist. He has an MA in Theology, specializing in supernatural theology, from the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. His debut novel Winter was a finalist for the Compton Crook Awards and the Grace Awards. His other works include Prophetess, the sequel to Winter; three contributing stories in the Aquasynthesis anthology; and a contributing micro-story in the Avenir Eclectia anthology. Keven is the founder of The New Authors’ Fellowship and produces music and video through Newsome Creative.

59 comments on “Publishing…Not what I thought it’d be.

  1. I think the phrase that starts with, “But the readers like it…” is the key one. Who do you serve? Congrats on joining the newly published club.

  2. I’ve compared the publishing race to women friends who are both trying to get pregnant. You love each other, and truly want the other to be successful–but the day one sees that “plus sign” and the other still hasn’t, the dynamic changes. The one left behind may be genuinely happy for her friend, but she is still jealous. Some people can’t get past that.

    And then once you have the baby, you run across those that insist their baby is smarter-cuter-walked-sooner-and-is-better-tempered than your baby. You have veteran moms looking down their noses with an expression that says, “Why did you have a child if you have no clue what to do with it?”

    One thing I’ve learned is that no one’s kid is my kid, and no one’s experience is my experience. And yes, friendships change.

    I’m so sorry you’ve had to deal with all that, Keven. I’m sure I’m in for my fair share when Finding Angel comes out. I’m trying to do the old “hope for the best but expect the worst.” Truth told–I’m terrified of it all being a ginormous disappointment. But I have to do it, or I will live forever with “what if”?

    For what it’s worth, I saw in Winter a diamond many, many months ago. I knew the moment I read it–back before it’s final pruning and editing–that it was something Grace would love. Because I loved it. And I know readers who are chomping at the bit already waiting for book number two. Write for THOSE people.

    • Great analogy, Kat. 🙂 Does this mean, as more and more of us get published, we’ll have to formulate a network of newly published, small press authors who band together and support each other in the face of the sneering that happens for many sides? 😉

    • Great one Kat. Readers are what it’s all about, right? But it’s still not fun getting snubbed in the industry. Published authors have to grow a thicker skin than unpublished authors ever need.

  3. Keven, I’m so sorry to hear how your entrance into the world of the “published” has been less than confetti and champagne. (Or sparkling cider, depending on your convictions in that department.)

    I can completely see what you’re saying with the Titanic analogy though. I have always been suspicious that there are unspoken castes in publishing…and some of the dividing lines exist due to the size/age/reputation of an author’s publisher. Others probably exist between genres. It’s a sad reality, when all most of us are trying to do is serve our readers in whatever way becomes available to us.

    Thank you for your candor, though. The “hard reality” information I glean along this road as I hope to some day join you on the other side of the “published” gate is some of the most important and useful information I feel like I can get. You are doing all of us a priceless service by opening our eyes to the reality, and not the fairy tale, of being in print.

    Stay strong!

  4. Keep writing, Keven! Keep plugging your books and making new fans!

    Ignore the “you don’t deserve this” from whoever you’ve been getting it from. Rebuke the little green-eyed monsters and send them for a time-out–in the closet!

    Do you know what’s almost as bad as going down with the Titanic?

    Getting becalmed in a wooden sailing ship in the middle of nowhere, and having to row yourself out to where the wind is, or die of thirst.

    I’m sure there’s a parallel predicament somewhere in authordom (but I, for one, do not intend to find out what it is!).

  5. Your words remind me of Jack London in his book “Martin Eden” It is a very insightful book on publishing and writing.

    Hold onto the “fans like my book” and go from there. I like your perspective that you write for God, your family and fans!!! That is where the focus should be.

    I totally agree with you analogy of Jack on the Titanic. Works for me.

    Blessings,

    Jan

  6. Good post, Keven. You seem to have reasoned yourself out of the “blehs” and come out on top.
    Hang in there. Chin up, and all that! We’re pulling for you. (And hey, I was in the same contest as Winter!!)

  7. Depressing. And also inspirational, in the sense that I never want to be ‘that guy,’ the one who shuns any author on either side of the publishing divide.

    Thanks for sharing this difficult story, Keven.

    • There are some truly supportive people out there. And there seems to be an inspiring epidemic of authors not wanting to be “that person.” They’re the ones who encourage me on a daily basis.

  8. Hey Kevin! I’ve only come to know you recently, but you seem like a great guy to me (Winter is on my birthday list for books :). Published, unpublished, bleh. We are all sisters and brothers in Christ 🙂

    “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” Romans 12:15

  9. Who is it? Who do I need to kick in the shins? I will. You know I will. No one messes with my family. They better hope I never find out who they are. Because it is never okay to be a jerk. If they don’t care for your writing, that’s one thing, but to say you don’t “deserve” publication is an out right lie and I have a bar of soap that will take care of a liar.

  10. Oh, man. I’m sorry I didn’t warn you – I guess I thought the snubbing I received was just on the publisher side. I do get ignored by most of the publishing world, except for a couple of small press friends who are so very appreciated. Now you know why I told you to get a bigger publisher, heh.

    We’ll get through this. You are one who is making a name for Splashdown, and for that I am incredibly grateful. When it all comes down, reader support is preferable over author support, I think… don’t you?

  11. Keven. You’ve been very gracious to me. You’ve opened up the doors for me here, you and di and for that I am truly grateful. I know I have said that before-but I will continue. Golden rule and all.

    As of today you were #12 on the Supernatural list on Goodreads. You have that support.

    Mostly you have a love for God and a talent. Your Winter? What a new character for so many to identify with! I admire that. As a writer we should all applaud or at least nod for the writer that can create a new anything.

    I see a movie. I never doubt. I mean I do…I’m human but remember and remember always–HE is in control. You have been deemed worthy by the King to eat at HIS table.

    My question to you is: Would you do it all again?

    |m|

  12. My Dearest Keven,

    Every great person has had to deal with ridicule.People don’t understand how it can be so easy for you when they have such a hard time. God has chosen you and no matter how many petty,jealous people come at you, you must press on for the Lord! He has intrusted a great gift in you. Walk on through the storm my friend and you’ll never walk alone.

  13. Insightful post, Keven. I’ve often wondered how things change when you are “newly” published–def a place of limbo. I appreciate you sharing your experience with us. Reality doesn’t have quite the same sting if you can be aware of what is (might?) be coming. The Army wife motto (and therefore my motto more often than not): hope for the best, prepare for the worst. I hope that you continue to grow a phenomenal fan base because Winter is a fantastic book. I can’t wait to read more!

    • Thanks for your support! And NAF has always been about sharing the raw journey of becoming/being an author. I hope it always stays that way. The “behind the scenes” stories need to be told.

  14. Wow. I’m shocked that other writers would treat you like this, though I can see why, unfortunately. As writers, we’re supposed to understand the difficulty of writing a quality finished product, getting it published, and then making a name for it. You’ve done this and they disown you for it? Weird, and sad. I’m sorry you’ve gone through this, but I look forward to how it strengthens you and gives glory to God.

    I’m still trying to figure out how this could happen to make sure I am both prepared by being selective of my friends, and aware of how I could possibly do this, however subtle, to someone else. Why did this happen to you?

    • It’s just human nature, Tim. It’s like this in any profession…you just don’t really expect it in the world of writing. And there truly is a caste system in publishing. Check out that link I posted above with Becky’s comment.

  15. Keven, thanks for being so brave as to share this journey.

    Now let me shed some light on the local media. They know their demographics and what their audience wants. They know their audience well enough to tell them “if you like X, you’ll like Y.” If not enough of their readers are in the category of “people who like X,” they’re not going to report on Y. They’re going to report on the things that will resonate with the largest number of people.

    You know you’re in a microniche. The number of Christian speculative fiction readers in any given market — even the big markets — is likely to be small.

    Wait, I know what everyone is going to say: “But if people will just read it, they’ll love it.” Yeah, but … that’s what you need word of mouth marketing for. The sorry truth is that most local media will not report on a local author until AFTER everyone’s read the book. I mean, did anyone interview Amanda Hocking BEFORE she sold a bajillion books?

    The exception is if you can find outlets that cover your niche. I confess to not knowing who they are (hrm…I should probably do something about that), other than the CSFF blog tour. For example, since my outlet is a business publication, the only books I can write about are business books. Doesn’t matter who wrote them, local or not. All that matters is — will they help my readers?

    I realize that’s probably more discouraging than helpful, but I believe discouraging information is better than none.

  16. Smile, love! The bleh’s only last a short time, but there is always a joyous lesson within them! Won’t it be great when you can see what that is??? 🙂

  17. It is nice to move onward down the writer’s sojourn knowing who your true friend are.

    • “who your true friend are.”

      Did you life that singular on purpose? Lol! But yes. Dividing the true friends and supporters from the false can be liberating, if sometimes painful. But it is healthier once the deed is done.

  18. It’s hard stuff, Keven, but for whatever it’s worth, I want to encourage you to keep following what you feel God has for you to do. Hang in there for what it brings to your spiritual walk, when all else seems like shifting sand. Seems trite in bare text, but it’s something I believe about writing, with all my heart.

    Blessings.

  19. Don’t let it get to you, Keven. There really are no clubs, just what you’re doing when you’re doing it. The published author wants to 50,000 copies; the guy selling 50,000 copies wants to get on bestseller lists; the bestselling author wants to hit #1; the #1 wants to stay on it longer than Joe Schmo…or wants a movie to be made from one of his books…or wants more foreign sales. It never ends. Just enjoy what you’ve accomplished.

    The secret is that no one feels like they belong. We’re all on different rungs of the same ladder, and all we want to do is ascend a few more rungs, then more after that.

    The International Thriller Writers does have a group just for debut writers, because it is hard to be that new guy, that freshman. You might want to check it out.

    I saw something recently that I really enjoyed because it was very true. On the TV show “Castle,” a guy played a newly published writer whose novel was moderately successful. Because he knew Castle, he was invited to Castle’s poker game with highly successful novelists. One of these novelists was Michael Connelly. The new writer was yapping on like one of the good ol’ boys, but it’s obvious he hadn’t “paid his dues” yet (though I don’t think anyone ever really does). Connelly says, “You know what I did after I wrote my first book?” New writer: “No, what?” Connelly: “I shut up and wrote 23 more.”

    That’s just the way it is.

    Enjoy the journey!

  20. This reminds me of high school and middle school. In this analogy, you would be the weird goth girl in the corner. Fitting, no?
    That said, I want to join Mrs. Diane in some well deserved vengeance. The jerks. At least let me give them a death glare or two.

  21. Keven, forget the people who snub you or make you feel unworthy. You have your family, friends and fans who think you’re the best. You’ve brought together an amazing group of people in the NAF. I feel truly blessed to be included, even if it’s just to lob the occasional slice of cheesecake at the young whippersnappers below.

    Landing in the published boat was a surprise for me too. I guess it wasn’t as smooth-sailing as I thought it would be. Once the initial buzz passed, I realised that I’d just swapped one set of problems for a different set. What I’ve been trying to do is just stay focused on my reasons for beginning this journey in the first place. I just put my head down and write. And pray. And market. And write…

    As Keith Green said: “Just keep doing your best, pray that it’s blessed, and He’ll take care of the rest.”

  22. Stay true to your true friends, and pray for the others. Keep writing for your fans. Good luck with your next book.

  23. Keven, I totally feel your pain, only in my case, I really don’t deserve it. “My” book is really my husband’s book. I merely did an exhaustive developmental edit on Tales of the Dim Knight, though I appreciate how Grace wanted to give me credit for the work I did on it. None of my own projects have been published yet. Now I have that nice credit on my bio, but no longer qualify for the unpublished author contests and such and don’t feel like I really fit anywhere.

  24. I’m surprised no one’s mentioned this yet. When Elijah defeated the prophets of Baal, he fell into a deep depression and God had to hide him away and feed him by ravens because he couldn’t feed himself.
    Why?
    Because it’s natural to drop into “blehs” after a mountaintop experience like getting published. When you’re in the valley, every word and emotion is magnified into spears and double-edged swords aimed right for your heart.
    You’ll be on top again, and you may gain a different perspective on those false friends, who perhaps don’t realize they hurt you so deeply. Or perhaps they have their own hurts to mend before they can rejoice with you.
    Either way, you’re too good a writer and too close to Jesus to hold it against them for long.
    Take some time to heal, Iguana, then brush yourself off and write 23 more books. 😀

    • You’re right, turtle. Very applicable illustration there. Mountaintops are great until you get back to the valley. But you have to cross valleys to get to the nest mountaintop.

      And I’m working on the 23 books. If I can find the time, I’ll get five out in the next five years. Gee that sounds like a lot. Good thing two of them are practically done already.

  25. I happen to be a non published writer, a senior, and an extreme newbie to the whole writing life so I expect some snobbish behavior and withholding stuff. My personal opinion is that those kind of folks are only hurting themselves. They could actually be missing vital input from others that would ultimately benefit them. We all have to start somewhere this is the place I feel God has started me although I wish he would have started a little sooner, but He knows what is best for me and I am glad that you got published. Yeah now you will be a great resource for the rest of us who are working towards that goal.

  26. Great article.Quite the eye-opener! I’m sorry your experience has been so, well, bleh. But, as you said, you are keeping it real and do have your priorities lined-up quite nicely.

    On the other side, this not-published-as-yet-author, has plans to help promote her just-published-friend’s novel, The Unraveling of Abby Settel, as much as possible. And to that end, y’all, you can watch a short video on Youtube here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yNZvTaIOIZE.

    Blessings!

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