Ah, the unpublished. Or, as many declare: the pre-published.
Let’s be honest: it’s difficult sometimes being a writer who is unpublished. You’re slaving away for hours on end on a manuscript or manuscripts that may be the next great sensation or may only be read by a few people. It could be huge, it could be small. It’s an uncertain time, rife with doubts and a need for some validation (anything, please) to quell the “Am I crazies.”
And that’s even before you get to the agent chase, the queries that seem to disappear into the ether or only score a form letter in return. With your name misspelled.
It’s not an easy path. But the most important thing to remember about the unpublished: everyone started there.
Every writer we love started out not knowing whether they had a shot or whether their work would be appreciated. Lots of beloved authors had to write a few manuscripts to get it right, tasted lots of rejection along the way, and made everyone look like idiots when they finally made it. Everyone had to take the same leap of faith to start writing without knowing where it would lead.
So. How can you help the unpublished among us, even if you yourself are unpublished?
Read their work. Give them feedback. Help them get better. If you’ve been around the block a bit, help the lesser experienced learn the “rules” first-timers might not know about, like going easy on non-said dialogue tags and adverbs. They should know them before they break them. Honest, polite, constructive feedback.
But most importantly: give them encouragement. As I said on Monday, everyone thinks they can write a book. The only people who really know how hard it is are the ones who have tried.
I liked your link to the post on tags–I think there's a happy medium, imho.
Moreso, I liked that you used a quote from Top Gun. 😉
The Amateur says
Hey! I'm pre-published!! (And when I want a little blog traffic my comment has to be the last of 101). I have a short story (I know it's not a MS- I'm still researching craft for my W to become IP). Any suggestions on that story would be appreciated. Nathan, I don not know what I would do without such a positive blog! My blog is http://www.collegelackey.blogspot.com. Thanks!
L.H. Parker says
Here, here! Congrats to all the unpublished authors! And hugs all around!
I've been reading your posts for about six month now. You're wonderful to follow. Each post are smart, funny, intuitive or informative. Many have multiple qualities.
With this last post I finally thought it was time to be apart of the comments along with your other followers. As a unpublished writer, I plug away each day, happy just to get some words on the page after a busy day and happier to read those words the following day and find that they actually make sense. Ciao.
J.J. Bennett says
All the way! I couldn't have said it better myself! 😉
This is my first visit to your blog, Nathan, and i would just like to say thank you! Your genuine good nature, and frank common sense is refreshing. I am an author who is fervently searching for good representation, and I believe that a fellow country originator is just what I need!
"It does happen. Not to many people, but it does happen. What's the problem with dreaming big? Why dream of having a bit part in a movie when you could dream of being an Academy Award winning actor? Why dream of putting together a couple of science experiments when you could dream of being a Nobel Prize winning scientist?
I say, dream big. And, when you think you're dreaming big, dream even bigger."
You can say that to your child, that would be appropriate. But we're adults here.
I know many published authors. NYT best selling authors. And they do not sip champagne with their agents on yachts. I've seen authors who thought they could quit their day jobs because they were "dreaming big." You know what happened to them? They had to swallow their pride, give up the big house and find a day job again.
The reason I wrote my post was to shed a little light of realism here. I don't think J.K. Rowling was "dreaming big." She was just writing a good book, a series that she saw all at once on a train.
Use your imagination for your stories, not for your superstar jetsetter lifestyle which I'm telling you, is not a writer's reality except for a tiny handful of Dan Browns. Too much dreaming about an unrealistic lifestyle and not enough dreaming about the writing itself.
Richard Lewis says
Best advice I ever got, pre-published, was also from a pre-published colleague who snapped at me, "Don't write pretty, just tell the damn story."
Hard to find the bottom of all these comments, but had to say:
That was really nice! We do appreciate that!
I'll have to do an "agent response" to my Seeker of Agent/Publisher interview. The other side deserves a fair hearing 🙂
The cliff face of the uninevitable is the worst kind of view to have from a writing desk, and it's helpful to wave across the shingle from time to time to other ardent souls who share the same daunting perspective.
Rick Daley says
I don't know if I like caviar, I have yet to try it. I'm also not that fond of the bubbly, I like a dry red wine. Maybe that's why I'm so willing to ruin the caviar by letting the champagne spill on it.
Isn't wanton wastefulness a sign of true success? Or am I misguided in my measurements?
Off Topic Question:
After reading Nate's post about how much time he spends emailing (yikes), I wondered if any of the writer background information in a query really matters.
I'm considering querying on a 2nd manuscript, and considering whether I should leave this out since it would be repetitious. Any opinions?
encouragement accepted and appreciated =)
I am sure all of us want to be published, but if we remind ourselves why we write, we can appreciate us, the unpublished by doing what matters most – writing.
You seem to understand us very well. Just wondering, do you have you a WIP or unpublished novel yourself? Or is your blog taking up all your writing time?
Aimless Writer says
One of the best things about being an unpublished writer is that every writer I meet wants to help me. They are an amazing group.
Jeannie Campbell, LMFT says
wow…i'm feeling appreciated and validated, too! thanks, nathan. 🙂
Where Romance Meets Therapy
Thomas Burchfield says
Thanks, indeed, thanks for that.
Dan Branda says
To this end, I've begun a new business venture, complete with Workshop Forums at galleysonline.com – I hope to see some visitors from here!
Awesome. I needed to see this post today. Thanks.
Thank you, this is confirmation that though the journey may be long, it will not be in vain….I will write until my hand cramps, then I will soak it and write some more. Loved this post!!!
I felt really happy while reading your article, and really concerned also, not only because I am unpublished (Yey !), but mainly because I implemented one of your 10 commandments for the happy writers, the one about helping other writers.
I think that you don't know about the CoCyclics project, first, because it is a french project handled by SFFF french writers, not famous ones (almost all unpublished by the way). We exchange the beta-reading of our novels (for free). The entrance criterias are strict, but once you are accepted, you get all the support that you could imagine (critics, emulation, and friends who love writing and reading as much as you).
[If you wish to have a look, guess what it is written in french:
A few of us are reading you as well, and so many thanks, because we enjoy your advises.
And this post is so great, thanks.;-)