Are you one of those writers that make statements like…
- I don’t write to be published.
- No publisher/agent is going to tell me how to write my novel. It’s MY story.
- That agent asked me to change a part of my novel to represent me, and I told him/her where to stick it.
Since published authors seem to have clubs of their own, I swim mostly around unpublished writers like me: hungry to learn about my art and the business of writing. In those circles, I often cross paths with writers who make such statements. I often grimace and say nothing – not an easy thing for me to do, and my critique team can vouch for that. That is why I decided to blog on this subject, no longer willing to squint my eyes and purse my lips. Here is my take on why a new writer should dismount from his/her high horse and accept that, chances are, your potential literary agent or publishing is right. If you disagree – bring it on. Bite me.
First of all, no one believes a writer that says he/she doesn’t write to be published. Seriously. Is that a defensive wall to save face in case you are never published? Unless you are writing a memoir to get emotional stuff out of your chest purely for the purpose of healing, you are writing to be published. It is what we do, we write what we like, but we surely want others to read it as well, which means we want to be published. So please don’t make that kind of statement when you meet other writers. It is not becoming (swatting at the air).
On a similar note, if you are lucky enough to have a good agent or publishing house tell you they will work with you if you change, delete or add whatever to your novel, jump to the occasion! We are all enamored of our work. Our passion is the fuel that propels us to write in the first place. Use that fire when you write your novel, but remember… no amount of writer’s fervor is going to sell it. Be open to adapt your novel to fit the targeted market, to make changes as needed. Of course you will need to select an agent with amazing track record, one that has sold the work of other artists. Then, let the agent or the publishing house do what they do best: sell/publish your book. Are you so bewitched by your own work that you would sacrifice the possibility of being published just so that you stick to your guns? Really (heavy sigh).
I suppose there is a time in a writer’s career when it’s ok to be picky, but I’m sure that is not when we are trying to sell our first novels.
Do you disagree?