One Writer’s Humble Place in the Publishing Universe...
by Laura Yeager
When people think of the results or effects of writing a manuscript,
they often think of million dollar book contracts, movie deals and
writing studios in the mountains. While some of us do reap these
things from the words we sow, most of us don't.
So what can the average writer expect from publishing his or her
writing? In my experience, there are essentially four things that
happen after one becomes a published author. They are as follows:
The first effect of publishing is that your message goes out to the
world. I've written about such things as living with bipolar
illness, to creating a subplot in a short story, to surviving
international adoption, to maintaining friendship in marriage. When
your message goes out, you're not alone anymore. In almost every
publication instance, I've gotten feedback from members of my
various audiences. This is because much of my writing appears on the
internet, whereby people are encouraged to respond to others’ ideas.
And let me tell you, it's nice to be heard, and it's even nicer to
be quoted. It's also wonderful to hear that your words have helped
another overcome something difficult (such as complying to a manic
depression medicine routine, to basing your subplot on a minor
character, to a bringing a baby home from a foreign country, to
celebrating your fourteenth wedding anniversary with your best
Money is the second effect that I experience because I've made it a
rule to write only for publications that pay their writers. I've
been paid pennies to hundreds of dollars for pieces. Essentially, I
won't write a piece unless I'm going to make at least $25.00 on it.
(I don’t come cheap!) I was so proud of the fact that I was earning
money from my writing that I convinced my husband to "allow" me to
set up my own checking account. From this account, I take my husband
out to dinner and buy him little gifts to spice up his life such as
Starbucks’ pastries and Gold Toe’s "Fluffies" (warm socks).
I remember the first check I ever received for my writing. I was 16,
and the money came from SEVENTEEN Magazine, where I'd won an
honorable mention for a story. They sent me $50.00.
That is still the best money I've ever earned. It was a lot more fun
earning it from writing a short story than working the counter at
Hardee's fast food.
A very nice effect of publishing is that one becomes motivated to do
it again. Success breeds success—that old idea. I love it when I've
managed to hook three or four editors at once and have three or four
articles "cooking" consecutively. The fact that I've got more to do
makes it easier to produce. (They say if you want something done,
give it to the busy person.) I guess it's seeing your "name up in
lights." There's nothing like it in the world. Publishing something
you're proud of is as good as having great sex. Both are extremely
rewarding experiences. And the participant is motivated to do it
more and more.
A fourth effect of publishing is that the writer develops a
presence, an identity. He's lit a small candle in the universe and
it shines brightly for many to see. Now, when I type my name into
Google, I find dozens of hits. I, as writer, exist. I couldn't say
that before I really started to publish online. That was around
2006. So in four years, I've become "someone in print." And
sometimes I don’t even know that I’ve published another piece unless
I see the "evidence" on Google. (I call this experience "The Google
I must admit, I'd love to experience million dollar book contracts,
movie deals, and writing studios in the mountains, but I'll settle
now for the basics. Maybe those other things will come later. Not
that I'm counting on it. It's nice to be just one candle flickering
in the dark.
I'm hoping audiences will come. As well as editors who like what
I've got to say.
Not to mention people like you.
Laura Yeager writes literary fiction and nonfiction for many kinds
of markets. Her nonfiction frequently appears in The Writer
Magazine, bp Magazine, and at authormagazine.org. She also works as
a professional blogger and speechwriter. She teaches online fiction
writing at Gotham Writers' Workshop. Laura is currently looking for
an agent for a middle-grade novel series.