Many writers who start out on the journey toward publication aren’t fully prepared for what that journey entails. It can be tough – you can face a lot of rejection along the way. You also might find that you have to revise, redraft, and re-envision your work many times before you finally land on something that works both for you and potential readers and publishers.
The writing life involves walking that fine line between staying true to yourself and staying open to the feedback of initial readers, editors, and publishers. Sometimes we work so hard on something and we’re sure it’s “right,” and we feel defensive when a reader points out things that don’t work. I find it’s helpful to have more than one trusted reader who generally shares your sensibilities as a writer or offers feedback that you can relate to and understand. You won’t choose to follow every reader’s suggestion, but you want to be careful not to become so attached to the text as you’ve written it – whether it’s a sentence, a paragraph, or an entire essay or chapter – that you close yourself off to advice that will make it better.
Publishing and promotion are not unlike writing. You have to be persistent and hopeful, and to accept rejection gracefully. You have to work at it – both finding a publisher and then promoting a new book can involve a tremendous amount of work, more than you expect. You’ll be asked to do interviews (spoken or written), write guest blog posts, reach out to readers to ask for online reviews, approach reviewers about looking at your work. As with writing, you have to stick with it – at the same time, it helps to remember your real reasons for being a writer. Unless your sole reason is to publish and find financial success (which only a small percentage of writers do), it’s important to focus on the fulfillment you get from writing, the pleasure of having a book published, and the way your work touches other people’s lives – whether that’s a few hundred readers or a few thousand, or more. Don’t let your self-esteem as a writer be attached to anything but your own hard work at accomplishing your goals. That’s the only part that’s really in your control.