Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A Few Thoughts on Validation

Okay, so I've had an interesting year. It was almost exactly a year to this date that I decided to break up with my first agent and seek a second. That process took a couple of months, and during that time, I decided to self-publish a novel that my first agent and I had submitted to publishers in New York.

That book was Elevated, and I think it's done pretty well out there. Since then, I've published two more novels and two novellas. I've had another book out on submission with my new agent that didn't sell.

I'll admit that it's getting a little...I don't know the right word. Taxing? Tiresome? Something along those lines. It's getting a little tiresome to keep beating my head against this wall of publishing.

Here's the thing: I think my stories are good. I've even had agents who thought they were good enough to submit to editors. Both of those are validating things, but for some reason, I still want that publishing contract. I want that validation with an editor, a marketing team, with readers, and with my author friends.

I've struggled with this for a while. I'll have weeks where I'm like, "Who cares? I'm still the same person no matter what. I don't care what people think." Then the next day, sometimes the next hour, I'm like, "I need the validation from All The People."

It's sort of a sickening seesaw. I'm not really sure where I'm going with this. Maybe just wondering where you get your validation from? How can I gain more internal validation? Or maybe I have enough and that's why I haven't quit trying yet? 


Candyland said...

Oh man. I've been battling this every day of my life for ten years and still don't have a book published under my name. I feel for you. It's such a hard business. It's almost as if we likebtorturing ourselves. Hang in there. We all know you're insanely talented.

Unknown said...

As an unpublished writer I get the validation from seeing my progress. Even though I get rejection letters I tend to be excited that my rejection letters have been coming with comments about my manuscripts. I struggled with giving up the goal of being published about a year ago but the thought of doing that was heartbreaking to me so I keep going. I think it is awesome that you have experience with traditional publishing and self publishing.

E. Arroyo said...

I have books with a small press and one I Indie published. I still feel as if i want that traditional publishing contract with agent, but I find my validation among my readers. OMG...that is worth all the heartache and headache and gray hairs. =)

JeffO said...

If you think about it, you still need so-called 'external validation' even if you self-publish. Instead of getting the stamp of approval from agents and editors, you're getting it from readers--it's just you get it without the same filters. I'm not quite sure if that's reading how I mean it.

Don't let anybody knock you for seeking publication via publishing houses. There's nothing wrong with wanting that.

Natalie Aguirre said...

You're great no matter what the publishing world or reviewers say. I'll be honest. I'm not caring much about getting published anymore after watching how hard it's been for you, Beth Revis, and others to sell other books. I wonder how much time and energy to put into a side career with so many "no"s. And not much money.

I love writing for me (when I get time) but there are so many other worthwhile things to do with time like helping those in our communities other than working on manuscripts that may never make it.

Angela Brown said...

When I first self-published my YA book in 2012, I was over the clouds, soaring into space and feeling wonderful among the stars. A big part of me sought the validation of readers, wishing, hoping and praying that the right one would pick it up and word-of-mouth my sales into the stratosphere. Needless to say, that hasn't happened, though it still can :-)

I seesawed back and forth between being Indie only or trying the traditional route with the rest of my books. Oddly, my thoughts shifted back and forth because of my interest in expanding my possible distribution, maybe getting into a Barnes & Nobles or the local library with the whole agent-Big 5 route ...not seeking validation. I guess it's because I still desire validation from the readers and hope to do so on a higher scale with a Big 5 book contract.

Mostly, though, I've come to grips with the reality of publishing as a business and am choosing to let my passion be my guide. I still query, even got a small press to accept my YA dystopian urban fantasy novel. But if agents or editors don't go for a project that I feel passionate about and want to share with the readers, then I'm glad to know I can do it myself.

karyne norton said...

I love the very last part of your post: Or maybe I have enough and that's why I haven't quit trying yet?

I'm an overly efficient person. I don't like investing time in something if I don't think it will be productive. And yet I write. The publishing world is still far off (if ever) in my future, so I'm not getting any kind of external validation. But if I didn't think it was productive in some way, I wouldn't do it.

I bet deep down you have the validation you need, and that's why you keep doing it. It's just a logical frustration that certain people aren't seeing the value in it. Not letting that frustration eat at you is much easier said than done.

Christy said...

I seem to cycle through this often. When I get anxious about the validation, I try to remember why I write. I need that expression in my life, and I want to help others escape this world for a few hours. If I just keep writing, I'll accomplish those goals, whether from self-pubbing or from editors and publishers.
For me, I've found that what I really want is respect. I want other authors, readers, and professionals to think of me as valid. I think that they will as long as I'm professional and put out good content, no matter my route to publication.

Amalia Dillin said...

One of my friends once told me that in publishing, the goal posts just keep moving -- you never reach a point where you're happy with what you have. You finish the book, hooray, but now you want the agent. You get the agent, HIGH FIVE! but now you want the book deal. You've got the book deal, Sweet Life! But now you want to SALES. You've sold aplenty, Huzzah! but now you want to be The Bestseller. The Neil Gaiman of your genre. The Rockstar with the film deal and the freedom to write anything you want and know it will sell like hotcakes.

And I am totally in that same trap. The wanting more. The looking toward the next set of goalposts. I was published by a small press, and then I got an agent, and now I have a traditional publishing contract under a pen name, and all I can think about is getting the sales and looking at the numbers on my other books, and wondering if I've maybe just found a new metric by which to measure my LACK of success or the amount by which my expectations were not reached.

It sucks. But I think this is kind of the nature of the beast. We always have to keep looking forward, and we're trained to do this from the start -- to look to the next book, if the first book doesn't do what we want it to do. I think though, that it turns into looking to the next accomplishment/end goal, instead of looking to the next book itself.

I have the validation but I still doubt myself, and I still feel like I'm beating my head against the wall, but then I go to my goodreads author profile, or my author page on amazon, or whatever, and I see the list of books I have published and it hits me: Regardless of the metrics, I've written BOOKS. And they're OUT THERE! and Holy Buckets, That was THE ORIGINAL DREAM.

So what was your original dream? Was it to be an author? To write books? Because you've rocked the socks right off that one! You've accomplished what millions of people never will. Give yourself that pat on the back and be proud of your accomplishments! Then dig into the next book and see what may come!

Unknown said...

Great Article as I often struggle with the same thoughts. Having just self published my first novel the sales aren't great and that can be depressing. What gives me validation is my readers and their feedback. My family and those that support me in pursuing my dreams. i know that they would tell em if this wasn't the right thing for me.

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