Over the years, I’ve discovered that TRUTH is like brussels sprouts–an acquired taste. It isn’t accepted right away.
Instead of the truth, most of us prefer something more comfortable. Writers do it too. We often prefer one of the four D’s: denial, delusion, distortion or disguise.
However, refusing to accept some simple truths can hurt you and your career.
Beware the Lies
Denial means to “refuse to accept or believe the truth.” I see this too often with students when they are ready to submit their stories and articles. Some refuse to accept the truth that you must study the markets and you must submit what they are asking for. If a magazine you love requests health articles only, but you send them your teen romance because you just love that magazine, the editor isn’t going to buy it, no matter how good it is.
Delusion means “the belief in something that contradicts an established fact.” One established fact is that learning to write well takes time and it takes commitment–daily, if possible. You’re deluded if you believe you can dash off several pages every few months and become a successful writer. That’s no more likely than if I practice Chopsticks every few months, I will end up playing Carnegie Hall.
Distortion means “taking the truth and slightly changing it into a partial truth.” This is like when a writer tells an editor in a query or at a conference, “I’ve had five books published.” If you have five books in your hand that you paid someone to print for you, they are not five published books in most editors’ eyes. They were printed and self-published, and there’s still a world of difference (to both editors and potential buyers.) You might not have paid anything, but only if there was no cost involved to your “printer” either (like Amazon’s CreateSpace print-on-demand books).
Disguise means “camouflaging a lie so that it resembles truth.” I’m sorry to say that, due to technology and the current economy, wolves in sheep’s clothing abound in the publishing arena. People wanting your money may call themselves “independent publishers” or “co-publishers,” but they’re still a close cousin to the old vanity presses that wanted your money. You do not have to fall for this. Thanks to the Internet, you can Google anyone and find out about them. Also become a regular reader of sites like Preditors and Editors and Publishing Scams and Writer Beware.
Facing the truth is difficult at first. Like brussels sprouts, it sometimes has to be absorbed in small doses. It’s your choice. You can believe the distortions, live in denial, embrace delusions and be fooled by disguises.
Or you can choose to believe the truth about writing.
- You do need to study the markets.
- You do need to write regularly.
- You do need to check out publishers in these days of so many scams.
- And if you choose to self-publish, you do need to face the fact that you will probably have to lay out some money for cover design and/or editing services, then do much of the marketing, publicity, promotion and sales yourself.
Whether or not to believe the truth is your choice. There’s just one catch. Only the truth will set you free–to become the writer you dream of being.
Which truth do you find hardest to swallow right now? Please leave a comment!