Thursday, October 27, 2011

Scaredy Cat - Publishing

It's the final Scaredy Cat post. Today I'm talking about some of my publishing fears.


I'm afraid of never being published. I think it's a legit fear for all aspiring writers. But I still think I'm kind of unique in it. See, I'm not really that worried about not getting an agent or a publisher. And I know that sounds ridiculously egotistically when so many awesome writers out there struggle/have struggled with getting a foot in the door.

But the fact is that I have a niche that isn't being catered to. When most people submit, they are competing against thousands or millions of others in their genres. I have no idea how many people write Caribbean contemporary YA, but I've never seen any. Which means I'm possibly competing with like 10 people. But more probably 0.

Even after 3 first drafts, I still don't have a polished manuscript. Sometimes it's really really hard to actually go after things, even if I really want them. This is how I only do things that come naturally. And how I've failed/nearly failed every class that ever required me to study. So my biggest fear in this area is that I will just never complete the full publication-worthy manuscript process.


Another reason I have difficulty getting further than the 1st draft is the fear that I will suck. I write all my first drafts in nanowrimo, which recommends ignoring/ embracing the suck as you gleefully race through 50,000 words in 30 days. 

I don't feel that freedom on a second draft. I constantly see how bad it is. I get stuck in a loop on the same bit, or I just stop writing altogether.

Combine this witth the fact that I feel like the Caribbean YA market is wide open, and I'm worried that I'll put something horrible out there and my name will be attached to it forever, and I'll have to move to Mars to hide out.


Man, I have so many agents and editors related fears. Even though I'm not the sort of person that is naturally agressive to other people, I'm terrified I'll say something online that will majorly offend someone and get me blacklisted for life. I don't feel I can come back from that. I mean, I can't really say, Oh yes, I grew up in Barbados and live in Japan, but I'm totally not related to that other writer who's also named Claire and insulted an agent horribly.

I'm also worried about not holding up my end of the deal. Agents/ editors trust writers to play a certain role, and then they take it from there. What if I suck at directed editing? What if I can't come up with big picture changes requested? What if I can't get to the desired results?


Beastly creatures. I literally don't work well with them, and don't work well without them. If you give me a deadline, I feel like it's breathing down my neck every time I think about the project. No matter how far off it is. Like I might think, I want to apply to an MFA program in September 2012. That's almost a year from now. Yet every time it crosses my mind, I'll hear the ticking clock.

That's because come August I will probably not have lifted a finger towards that goal. And it will be a mad dash to the finish which will result in me sending good (rather than great) work at 7 minutes to the absolute deadline.

On the other hand, things often just don't get done without a deadline. If you say in a big mystical fuzzy way. "Claire, can you write me an article on YA literature set outside the UK/US/Australia?" I'll tell you sure. And every now and again, I'll say to myself, Self, you should probably get cracking on that article. And it will take way longer than it should. And you'll probs not be very happy with me.

As much as I hate them, I've started to ask for deadlines for the things I care about. But this writing world runs on the back of deadlines. How on earth am I going to survive in it?


I'm one of those people who believes in mushy Disney ideals. It was worth it if one person in the world loved it. (I mean that figuratively - pretty sure publishing companies wouldn't be very happy if only one person loved it.) But I still prefer to affect somebody more than the money. I'd be happy if people would come up to me and say, "Thank you, Claire. Your book really made me feel [insert feeling here]."

I'm afraid that won't happen. I'm afraid that everyone will read my work and feel lukewarm.


While I don't really care about money (look how I'm arguing away my own advance before I've even queried), I know that there's a bottom line. I'm worried that I won't sell enough to break even. That this market of Caribbean teens all through NYC, Florida, London and of course the Caribbean, is all in my head. Or that they're broke. Or that they'd rather read the US/UK stuff they've grown up on. And we've all heard what happens to authors who don't sell. Change of name or of profession.


I don't measure myself in money or prestige. But other people do. And while they may not be judging me, I'll feel like they are. If all my friends can go on cruises, and I can only afford a weekend in the beach house that's a 5 minute drive from where I live, that will hurt. I'm afraid of someone ever saying to me, "You could do so much better if you'd let go of this writing thing." I'm afraid that they'll mean well, and it will break my heart, just as much as I'm breaking theirs.

So those are the publishing fears foremost in my mind at the moment. How about you? Do you have any publishing fears?


Bidisha said...

You took the words out of my mouth and said them out loud. Every one of my fear is in this post. And you're much braver than me about posting them.

Rida said...

I feel the same. And you're so darn honest, Claire. Like Bee said, I'm not brave enough to put my fears out there for everyone to see.

Great post. And I wish you the BEST of luck.

Shari Green said...

I don't think much about my fears. Maybe I secretly hope that if I ignore them, they'll go away.... ;) But I know they're there. I guess what I'm most afraid of is my work not being good enough, of me not being talented enough. And I guess all I can do about it is keep writing, keep learning, keep challenging myself to get better.

Thanks for sharing this post! Wishing you all the best. :)