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 friend.)
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 Effect.")
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.