Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Who Do You Trust

Who should you trust? You want on the writing bandwagon. You want to put on a smoking jacket and have cheesy photos taken. You want the success of Hocking, King, Patterson, or perhaps Konrath and Locke. So, how do you get there? Do you self-publish or go the traditional route? If you do self-publish, what price do you set? How do you advertise? Who’s got the answers?

Everyone has answers. Who do you trust? Read carefully, and I’ll tell you. 

I remember coming across J.A. Konrath’s blog early 2009. Back then, his posts were still about publishing in the traditional world although I found much of it far from the traditional approach. The blog intrigued me, as did the advice. Mostly, I just liked his wit. I subscribed. I read. When Joe started to talk about self-publishing, I thought he might finally have lost it. Clearly, he was committing career suicide in a very public way. It was a train wreck worthy of its own reality show.

Fast forward nearly a year and a half. I’d been querying agents right and left with a couple of books. I received requests – a lot of them – from top agents at top agencies. I thought The Call would come at any moment. What I got was varying opinions on my work: too light, too dark, change character X into Y. Change character X into B. After rewriting a manuscript three different ways for three agents, I was starting to feel like Charlie Brown and Agent Lucy was holding the football. But it was when I started getting the rejection letters that read, “You have a great voice/story (insert other compliment here), but in this economy” that I started to wonder if Joe was on to something. After all, the responding agents all said something extremely flattering about my work. Still, self-publishing? Was that the best route? Konrath and other writers said it was. Successful and traditional writers were even taking the leap into the self-publishing world – even those with future contracts.

But, it’s Joe, and he is slightly opinionated. Ha! He didn’t start out the way I was. He’s got the fan base. He and the others could be wrong. He kept pushing self-publishing  Kool-Aide but I wasn’t ready to drink it. I could shoot any future writing career I had in the foot. What to do? Trust Joe, or the nay-sayers?

Turns out, there was someone else with the answers. Someone else I took the blind leap of faith in and trusted more. But that’s jumping ahead. There’s still more to the story.

I tracked down articles and other blogs. I came across Karen McQuestion. No pretense, no attitude, just a woman who’d been in my shoes. After a few days of chewing on the idea of self-publication, I took a chance and contacted her. Karen graciously responded and pointed me to a wealth of information.

It was now or never. I was sick of hearing, In this economy. I could either self-publish and see what happened or I could cry in my soup and hope the next novel, or the one after that, or the one after that might make appease the gatekeepers. In other words, I could rely on people I didn’t know to make my dream a reality or take my future into my own hands. It’s all in who you trust.

I’ve never regretted becoming an indie author. I can’t offer you a rags to riches story here. I’m nobody’s Cinderella. If you’re writing with the hopes of driving a Ferrari, you’re probably not living in the same reality I am. Few reach that status. If you’re looking for easy street, you’ve made a wrong turn—off a cliff.

It’s all about what makes you happy, folks. You need to write because that’s what you love. Just be sure to hire pro editors and cover artists should you decide indie publishing if for you. Now, I don’t know what the future holds and I refuse to bring the Ouija board out of the attic. Those things freak me out. But, I can tell you that I believe in the reader’s ability to find great stories, no matter the format no matter where they come from. Don’t compare yourself with others who are selling better than you. Don’t compare yourself to a friend who just landed a dream agent. If you’re stressing about all that, you’re heading down the wrong path.

Who do you trust? Who has the magic answer? If you haven’t figured it out, then I’ll just beat you over the head with a ten-pound sledge hammer and two quotes from the late Steve Jobs:

"Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become."


"Your time is limited. Don't waste it living someone else's life."

Really? You still want to know? Okay. Come closer. Yes, that’s it. I’m going to tell you the secret to life and everything that’ll make you happy—that one person who you should put all your faith in and rely on to make your dreams come true.


There’s really no one else. Until you trust in yourself, you’ll never find your way. Not in life, and certainly not in writing. You have to make your own decisions based on the information available to you. You have to trust your own B.S. detector.

I made my choice. Only you can make yours. Who do you trust?


  1. I like your wrong turn, off a cliff :D I also think it's important to trust yourself to make the right decision for you. No one knows, (and hopefully loves you), like you do.

  2. Wow! Just before I read your blog, I was doing the usual morning-after-two-rejections-self- doubt-dance. Thinking who was I fooling? Years of rejections, even kind ones, have to mean I don't have it. Kind friends should have just had an intervention and said, 'Here's the truth. The agents and editors are right.".

    One of the stupidest things I have done in years of submitting and getting the bad news was grabbing at hope by sending the 'other' work invited by an agent after the first rejection. There is nothing good about an agent passing the 'dirty work' of rejecting to an assistant who is brurally creative in making you aware how little talent you have.

    Okay, off the sob-box. Re read your blog. Move forward.

  3. Great advice, Michellle. We really do need to make decisions based on what will bring the happiness. Riches will either come, or it won't, but if we are miserable every step of the way... I'm a fan of figuring out which part of the process I can and desire to control, and let go of the parts I can't and don't want to control.

  4. Wonderful post, Michelle. And even with a level success there's always the next level and it's that way with traditional too. We have to believe in ourselves and be happy with where we are in the journey while pushing forward!

  5. Love the post. When we break it down an author's salary can be less than minimum wage. We don't do this for fame or riches (I hope not) we do this because we love to tell stories.

  6. amazing and insightful post, Michelle. I'm so glad to see that you're already inspiring other writers to trust their instincts.

  7. I love this! And it fits well with thoughts that have been rambling through my head lately: if you're not writing what you love, you're not doing it right, and trust your subconscious mind, it knows what it's doing. Those ideas aren't mine (they belong to the late, great Ray Bradbury), but I'm adopting them. :)

  8. Thanks so much, everyone! It all boils down to the fact you've got to trust someone, and if you can't trust yourself and be content with the choices you make, you'll never be truly happy.

    Of course, chocolate helps, too.

  9. I <3 you. But you know that already. ;)

  10. I'm so glad to have read this. I have dithered around for way too long wondering what to do with my writing. Then I was lucky enough to win a couple of awards for my manuscript and had editors request it. But it didn't feel right. Friends thought I was crazy when I said I wanted to publish myself but that's what I'm doing.

    I've released a few short stories on Smashwords to stick a toe in the water and it is so much fun looking at the stats - not because they are amazing, but because of the insight and knowledge you can get from them. So I'm going ahead with the novel/s and I'm learning and growing and best of all, I'm doing it. All by myself.

    1. Glad it helped, Pen. It's a lot of work (hiring editors, proofreaders, cover artists, writing, editing, marketing, keeping up with the industry, blogs, social media...), but in the end, there's no greater satisfaction. Shine on, my friend. Believe in you.