It’s funny when they think the day job is my “real job,” and when they assume I actually have to work harder there than I do on my own self-imposed torture.
I mean, sometimes a publisher you sign with will book you for an event, or encourage you to appear at a group event, or ask you to arrange participation at a local authors’ event, or include you as one of their authors at a conference. And you don’t necessarily have to be a huge success to get those. But generally? You probably shouldn’t assume “book deal” goes hand in hand with glamorous all-expenses-paid tours where people line up to see you, all thanks to the hard work and dedication of your publishing team.
They DO do a lot for you, even at smaller publishers. But unless your participation is allowing them to create sales where there wouldn’t have been sales, it is ever so unlikely that they will choose to pay your bill as you travel the country doing signings. I was my imprint’s bestselling book the year I was published. I did some appearances, but not because of anything my publisher asked me to do.
You can arrange your own events and participate in others, and sometimes your publisher will work with you to make sure copies of your book are available! But yeah . . . book deals usually don’t lead to road tours. Sorry. :/
I think nearly every writer has had this happen to them. We’ve all seen stories that are creepily similar to what we’ve already written or were going to write, and usually they’ll come out ages after we’ve written or conceived the thing (but you’d still be the one accused of being a ripoff artist if yours was published after). The good news is that it’s very common and not indicative of you being unoriginal or secretly inspired by someone else’s work, and there’s hope if you’re stuck with a concept that bears striking resemblance to something else that’s popular.
If you’re inevitably going to be compared to another piece of media, be informed about what that other thing IS, and then make it clear in your pitching materials what sets yours apart. No need to explain it isn’t a ripoff of the other thing; best not to even mention it. Unless your book is an actual retelling of an established tale (like a modern reboot of an existing book in the public domain, or a legend/fairy tale), you don’t explicitly want your book officially tied to other media that you want to be seen as distinct from. But books being similar to other stories is inevitable, and that similarity doesn’t have to kill you. You just have to know what to do to make a case for why there’s room for yours too, and that starts with research!
As an aside . . . you can’t copyright ideas. Write them down and then the copyright belongs to you, but you can’t reserve concepts and then prevent other people from using them.
I’ll add that I never did anything with my annoyance at fanfiction; it’s not like I ever found a fanfiction writer and told them they should be doing something more productive with their time. It was just that I was irrationally annoyed by this kind of hobby because after all you can’t publish a story that’s about someone else’s characters or uses someone else’s premise! What were they thinking?
But obviously–as detailed in the comic–I came to realize people write for many reasons. Just because I had no desire at that time to connect with other people’s ideas about fictional characters that didn’t belong to them, and wasn’t seeking a bonding experience between fans, and didn’t want to spend my writing time using someone else’s characters . . . does not mean there are no reasons to do those things.
Furthermore, fanfiction can be a training ground if you do one day want to write your own original stories. So much has to be done when you write a novel–not only do you have to invent your characters and their back story and their premise and their plot and figure out pacing and learn to write dialogue and come up with engaging relationships . . . you also have to master the mechanics of writing. It’s very intimidating for some people, especially if they don’t know where to start.
So they can start with something they love. Maybe they want to know what it would be like if two characters who aren’t interested in each other in the original had a romantic relationship with each other. Maybe they want to invent their own character and bounce them off of characters they love. Maybe they really like a plot concept and want to set their story in an existing world. They can take these smaller steps on their own terms, without much pressure since they know they can’t publish fanfiction traditionally, and then they can develop skills and increase confidence. Get the feel for how words flow for them. Understand how to approach peers for proofing. Learn discipline.
Or . . . not. Because you don’t have to justify an interest in writing fanfiction by claiming it’s preparing you to write original material. If fanfiction is it for you, and it’s a hobby, and you love it, there’s no shame in that. Enjoy it however you want. And don’t let snobs like my former self make you think you’re a lesser writer because of it.
Some people struggle the most with one particular aspect of writing and publishing, depending on what their individual challenges are, but . . . to be 100% honest? Every part is difficult in some way, even when you’re also enjoying yourself.
You can always look at this the opposite way (and I often do): view everything that’s behind you and in front of you as the hard part, but convince yourself that you’re currently doing the easy part. Tell yourself you’ll just breeze through this and the most difficult bits are either already done or a problem for another day. You’d be surprised how well this works!
It’s never quite as blatant as this, but yeah, I’ve had quite a few people steamroll over me with explanations of how to get published without realizing they’re not talking to a n00b. I’ve also had a peculiar number of people assume my book is unfinished, or is self-published or only published digitally. Sorry self-important person who made weird assumptions: I don’t need the process explained to me.
Yes, yes. Everyone’s heard the stories of authors who get rejected a bunch of times and still go on to be very successful. Everyone knows it’s easy to say that AFTER you’ve made it, but while you’re going through it, it feels like every rejection is proof that you can’t do this.
It’s true that maybe the one you’re trying to sell, or the one you’re looking for representation for, isn’t “the one,” and sure, you won’t know until later whether a different project is the one that will get you off the ground. But five rejections . . .
. . . let’s just say five rejections is not a lot.
But I know it’s hard and you’re allowed to be sad.
Psst . . . sometimes trying new to you can even give you a peek into innovative ways to apply it in your established genre, or it can give you new appreciation for your old favorite. When you’re stagnating, sometimes delving into it with renewed focus just makes it work.
Sometimes you need to fly away. Into something experimental. Into a place where writing is low-pressure and fun again. Into an experience that reminds you what it’s all about.
And sometimes you need a clean slate before you see why you’re in a rut.
“Girls just don’t write science fiction.”
Yeah I guess I’d better go double-check my gender and get it validated, ’cause I write science fiction/fantasy.
And lots of my other female friends write SFF.
Many of us write such things without a focus on romance. Try not to sound so disbelieving as you take this in. But if you’re going to make these kinds of assumptions, at least leave the condescending smirk off your face. Someone might get the idea that you believe romance is an inferior genre, and/or that you believe the female writers who dominate it are beneath you.
I promise I have NEVER in my life preemptively assigned a man a probable writing genre before he speaks, and would never utter a phrase like “so you probably write shoot-em-ups and police procedurals, yes?” Nor have I assumed a man’s romantic stories are probably framed in a battle setting.
You really don’t need to sound so surprised when a woman writes science fiction. Get over it.