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Published authors advise new writers to enjoy the pre-publication stage of their writing journey. We tell them to write as many stories as possible while waiting and querying, so they have a pile of manuscripts awaiting their editing when the day arrives.
Why? Because life changes drastically after publication. There is marketing to do, a business to run as a writer, a blog to feed with constant content, a platform to maintain, and preparation of the subsequent novels. Time commitments alter.
After publication, writing is no longer the most time-consuming activity. That seems ludicrous, doesn’t it? The life of a published author today is not what we imagined.
The dynamics of indie publishing and the demise of a large portion of the Christian writing industry have demolished those expectations while at the same time opening many more doors. After publication, the majority of us can’t hide in our writing caves, basking in tranquility as we create more stories. We don’t have the leisure of turning over the publishing process and the marketing to a publisher. Few writers do.
One published author I met recently plotted her schedule. One-third of her work time was spent writing and the other two-thirds expended on her platform, blogging, and the marketing work that supports her writing. I realized this had become my life as well.
This is not what I wanted. I toyed with the idea of giving up.
Like you, I must keep my eyes on Jesus. He has given us stories to tell. He knew what that would require, even if we did not. We endure the hardships, so we can illustrate truth about the Lord in the most powerful way possible, through stories, exactly as Jesus did with His parables. This is why we keep pressing on.
But be forewarned. The reality of this feels different than the expectation of it.
We are pushed into arenas most of us never wanted to explore. We have to learn the necessary business, marketing, and tech skills, if we want our stories to find their market. Now, before publication, is the time to take those courses at the writers’ conference, to sign up for that how-to podcast, and to participate in those webinars.
There’s another surprise that comes after publication. Our relationship with our stories changes. I love my characters. Writing them, cavorting with them in our imaginary world, experiencing their emotions as I write from their points of view, anticipating their actions and thoughts in each situation – all of this ends.
After publication the story is no longer organic. It’s alive to your readers, but it’s stationary and unmoving for you. Your readers long for the story to continue, but when it’s in print, it no longer involves your imagination but theirs. You have left the building, leaving your characters in their 6″ x 9″ box called a book. Your relationship is reduced to parental nostalgia about how you used to play with them in your imagination.
But, have no fear, you’ll be spending your time with new characters, so you’ll hardly have time to miss your first imaginary friends. For now, enjoy where you are, bask in the presence of your characters before they’re set in stone, linger with them in obscurity, and be patient with the process. While you’re awaiting publication, establish your quirky and unique voice. Talk and write about your baby novels.
There’s a time for every purpose under heaven. This is the time to soak in the quiet and to listen carefully to the Lord’s direction for your ministry of the written word, so that when it gets noisy and busy, you will remember where you’re going and why you’re following the Master Author, the One who gives you these stories. He directs your journey.