I am someone who wears many hats. Wife, mother, editor, marketer, craftswoman, DIY-er, menial laborer. But my favorite job is fiction writing.
What do I write? So many things, though it's easiest to just say Fantasy. I have written YA Paranormal, YA Contemporary, High Fantasy Adventure, Horror, Sci-Fi Fantasy, Steampunk, Contemporary Romance, and Urban Fantasy. I love creating engaging tales set in fascinating worlds. I have been published several times under a pen name, though I am no where near prolific. Chances are, you haven't even heard of me. Why? Because I hate marketing myself. I just want to write.
The primary goal of authors generally is to be published by a reputable company, earn that nice advance check, and maybe do some convention tours. To have the whole world tell them their stories are worthwhile and enjoyed. While that would be nice, I'm simply not suited for self-promotion. I came to terms with this a long time ago and I'm okay with it.
I don't expect to ever become well-known in any of the fields I dabble in. Paying the bills is good enough for me. As long as I'm sheltered, clothed, fed, and have enough free time to pursue my passions, I'm satisfied with my lot. Deep down, recognition would be a dream come true, but just being able to share my joy with others is enough.
Like any art medium, writing is very often not a choice. It's a form of expression, an outlet, and for some, therapy. A sculptor sculpts because he must. A musician sings or plays an instrument because he must. It is the same with writing. I am compelled to create, whether or not others admire.
And, like other artists, I have worked hard to hone my craft, to make it the best I possibly can. I read everything, took workshops, listened to the expertise of agents and publishers, wrote and rewrote, and rewrote again. I learned the fundamentals of plot, structure, character development. I delved into the psychology behind creating relatable and compelling characters. I worked with a mentor, joined critique groups, and became relentless in recognizing my own failings. This led me to become a fiction editor and mentor myself, and eventually a business promoter. I am confident in my art, confident in my skills as a storyteller. I am not confident in my ability as a salesperson.
There are other reasons I have kept to self-publishing or small publishers. Time, for one. When seeking traditional publishing, it can take months or years to sign with an agent, then additional years for that agent to find a publisher who wants your book. Should you be lucky enough to get a publishing contract, it is then an additional 2-5 years before your book goes to print. Honestly, I'm too impatient to wait all that time. I've been working on my latest novel for eighteen months, and it's driving me crazy. I still have the revision process to go through.
When my manuscript is done, it's been reworked as many times as necessary and edited to perfection, I want it out in the world. It doesn't need to be popular or profitable. If I make even a single other person happy with my words, that is more than enough.
Being traditionally published by a major house has it's prestige, I'm not going to lie. There is a certain pride in making it past the gatekeepers, in being vetted and vindicated. Self-publishing is often viewed as the avenue for those who can't hack it as a "real" writer. And there are certainly flawed works on the indie market. But there are also a large amount of amazing works, beautiful prose, engaging tales, exciting journeys.
There have also been some less than stellar releases by major publishers, though I won't mention names. A large publisher behind your name is grand, but it doesn't always translate to value. Only a reader can determine your value.
This post meandered a lot more than I intended, but there it is. If you have a passion, whether it's carpentry, painting, music, writing, or what-have-you, I hope you pursue it not for money, fame, or prestige, but because you love it and are compelled to do it. Pride in a job well-done, even if it's not widely recognized, is worthwhile, and so is following your dreams.