So I was scrolling through Pinterest one day, and came across a "guide" for whether to pursue indie or traditional publishing:
- The question: “Do you hope to become a millionaire from your writing?”
- The “Yes” answer being “I’m the next JK Rowling!”
- And the response to that answer being “You’re not ready yet.”
All of these make me rage so hard it’s gonna take a whole lot of self control not to drop a bazillion F bombs into this blog.
Let’s break this down. #1. “Do you hope to become a millionaire?”
I don’t think any writer in the world could honestly say no. We all naturally dream, because we’re professional dreamers. It’s so horrendously unfair to say we’re “not ready” because of our natural inclination to dream.
Let me just clear something up. “Want” and “hope” are not the same as “expect.” I don’t think any writer expects their book to make them millions. While we are dreamers, we know what we’re getting into. If writing was an easy ticket to fame and fortune, everyone would do it.
Someone who expects to become a millionaire is, well, crazy. No matter what their profession. Someone who dreams about it is completely normal.
Moving on to #2
What really bothers me is the assumption that when writers dream of being rich and famous, that means we want to become “the next JK Rowling.” Just. Get. Out. This bothers the crap out of me particularly as a young adult fantasy author. No one wants to be “the next” JK Rowling. No one wants to be “the next” anything.
I didn’t spend almost half my life trying to be someone else. I built my world the way I wanted it so I could be the first and only Crossworlds. I even fantasized about people called me Crossworlds because 1) it would be awesome, and 2) it just makes sense, because they wouldn’t know whether to call me Rose or Libby.
I can’t imagine any writer in the world wanting to be “the next” insert-other-persons-name-here. In fact, most writers are terrified of being called unoriginal, or a wanna-be, or phony in any sense. This actually stops a lot of people from writing, because we nit-pick everything we read/watch/whatever for similarities to our own work.
Of course everyone wants (again, want does not mean expect) to be as successful as JK Rowling. That doesn’t mean we emulate her and keep her in our brains constantly as we work. That would only set us back. Comparison hurts.
So, finally, #3
There are a lot of other problems with this chart. Things like "I wanted (there's that word again!) it on the shelves yesterday," somehow leading to "You're not ready yet." Note how the "not ready yet" section says you probably need to make a small tweak, like saving up money, learning a new skill, or adopting more realistic expectations. The idiot who made this doesn't know the difference between want and expect. Does "I wanted it on the selves yesterday" really sound serious to you? I can't hear that without a bit of a laugh in the speaker's voice. This is eagerness, not expectation. We can't help it, we're passionate. You won't get anywhere without passion.
If you’ve been told you’re “not ready” because of your natural inclination to dream, I’m here to tell you this has nothing to do with whether or not your actually ready. You might be. You might not. It’s not up to me, or any single, oversimplified flowchart to tell you.
I’m also not going to say “only you will know” because you probably won't. The process of figuring out when you’re “ready” is one filled with doubt. One minute you’re in love with your story, the next, all the flaws are glaring out at you, and you can’t help thinking it’s the worst thing ever written. During these vulnerable moments, a flowchart like this reprimanding you for dreaming can be a real slap in the face. So, stay away from crap like this.
If you focus back in on your story, remind yourself why you started, and let that passion and that unrealistic dream guide you, who knows how far you’ll go?