I’ve talked to a lot of people lately- at craft shows, book signings, and online- and when I meet a fellow writer, I hear the same sentence over and over again:
“I love to write, but I’m afraid to publish.”
After listening to their experiences, I’ve come to learn that it’s not so much the process of publishing that scares them (they don’t mind the writing, editing, or marketing), it’s the thought of having their work out there. In the public. On the web. Out and about where everyone in the world can now see.
Take it from someone who was once a non-published author before: putting your work out there is a scary task!
Because when you publish, you open yourself to critique, or better yet, troll-infused criticism. You risk the possibility that your dream of living off of your book’s royalties may not come to pass. You just might have to come to terms with the fact that even though your work is brilliant and great, there is a chance that it’ll get lost in the endless supply of books being published daily online, and only a select few will ever come to appreciate it.
Those are fears that are a reality to a lot of published authors, and it’s a reality that many people will never understand.
So I’ll be honest- publishing is scary. The risk is high, the rewards are sometimes scanty, and even if you do have good sales the first time around, they aren’t guaranteed to last.
But I’d be lying if I said publishing still isn’t worth it.
Because the truth is, despite the trolls, despite the roller-coaster sales, despite the risk that your books may only ever be read by a few people on Goodreads who somehow found you, publishing is still worth it. Amidst the trolls, there’s readers who will read your book and love it. Despite the low sales and having to still work that nine to five job, you can say (unlike many others), that you’ve got to live your dream. And even if your story gets lost in the shuffle, it’s still in that pile, and even if people don’t read it today, there’s always the chance that after a time of digging, they’ll read it tomorrow.
None of us know what the future holds. It may be bad, it may be bland. But there’s also a chance it can be good. But unless we take that first step into the unknown and actually try, we’ll never know.
So if you’re unsure of whether to publish or not, I’ll tell you what I tell the other writers I talk to:
If you want to publish, then publish. If you don’t, don’t. Only you can make the decision on what to do with your writing, and you’re the one who knows best. But if you’re still unsure, don’t let worry or fear get the best of you. You’re a writer. Whether you’ve got a book for sale on Kindle or a dusty old journal on your nightstand, you’re a writer. And no matter what, as long as those words are on paper (or in digital space), you’ve already accomplished what most people could only dream of.
And that, my friend, is something to be proud of.