Being an author isn’t easy. I don’t think any sane person would tell you otherwise.
The writing part can be fun. Sure, it’s stressful sometimes, and finding time to write can stretch other areas of your life to the snapping point. But creating your own world is amazing. Editing can be trying, but it’s doable. It’s the actual authory work that can really suck sometimes.
Building an author platform feels like shouting into the void. Promoting your own work feels like self-aggrandizement. And all those lovely things come after you find a publisher through the dreaded query process.
One of my series has been through three, that’s right three, publishers. The first folded before they managed to get my contract to me. The second folded under suspicious circumstances less than two months before the book was to be released. It was so stressful and awful. You go through the self-doubt and loathing of submissions, find your book a home, and have that home literally crumble.
And it happens more often than you’d think. Small houses fold all the time. Sometimes in an organized and respectful manner. Sometimes they announce on Twitter before even contacting their authors. And at the end of it all are myriad books that have no home. They get pulled from the market and sit. Maybe to find a new publisher, maybe to become self-published, or the stories might just get shut in a dark corner when the writer gives up their dream of being an author as a bad job.
The situation has left a lot of shell-shocked authors blundering about the internet. We’ve been dumped and cheated. It’s really like a whole clan of crazy writers that have gone through terrible breakups and divorces.
The worst for me was being ghosted. The time to answer emails got longer and longer. Publishing dates got pushed back further and further. I’d send a brusque email and get an apology for having been ignored, only to have my response to the apology go unanswered. It went on for months like I had a bad boyfriend. When I finally heard that the relationship was dissolving, I was almost relieved. I finally had the chance to move on. To find a partner in publishing who had an interest in working with me. Thank God I have an awesome agent to make sure that my stories are protected in the literary divorce.
I feel bad for my other wonderful publishers. I’m constantly afraid of becoming one of those clingy, traumatized authors who panics and thinks their publisher is closing if an email hasn’t been answered in twelve hours. It feels like it could happen the next time I check my email. A note saying all the publishers in the world are shutting down.
But I refuse to let some bad breakups end my literary career. I’ve been dumped, cheated, and ghosted, but I’m hanging in there. Just like in love you have to wade through the bad to find the good. I’ve found some really great publishers to work with, and I am constantly grateful for their professionalism and support. And hopefully I’ll learn from those positive experiences and from the trauma of the bad to leave dumping days far behind me on the long road to success.