January 15, 2013

Your Publishing Expectations

All writers have expectations about getting published, whether it’s a poem or a novel. We can’t help it! And we should never feel guilty that we have expectations. After all, these are our hopes and dreams. But very often our expectations are not met. Sometimes, they are squashed.

In publishing, you can have many different expectations from small to enormous, and it doesn’t always have to be about publishing your book, but a short story or article.

When I got an acceptance for one of my short stories I was ecstatic! I had been waiting for this day for a long time. The publication wasn’t a magazine, but an e-zine and when my short story was published I immediately went to the website to check it out. Seeing my story featured on an e-zine was amazing! I scrolled down the page, reading tidbits here and there, and then my face dropped. During the process of getting my story from document to website the formatting had gotten a little messed up. My expectations immediately plummeted a fraction. It wasn’t terribly bad, but a few paragraphs were spaced awkwardly. I just hoped that it wouldn’t cause anyone reading it to stumble or think less of my story. Despite that slight mishap, I am still very proud of it.

Another time when my expectations received a hit was just recently after I found out that an article I submitted as a member of a writer’s association was published in their semi-annual magazine. I had no idea that my article was even chosen because unlike other publications, they don’t notify you of acceptance or denial. When I got the magazine in the mail, I was thrilled to see my article listed in the index. Two days after, I was still riding the wave of happiness. But then I found a major typo. One of the sentences reads, "I felt as though I was going through postmortem depression." Instantly, I went into panic mode.

“It’s supposed to read postpartum depression,” I thought. “Postmortem isn’t even a depression; it means after death!”

After seeing that, I felt embarrassed. I could only hope that not many people who received that publication actually read my article, or if they did that they didn’t catch the mistake, or knew what I meant and wouldn’t call me an idiot. I still have no idea how that typo even made it into my article.

Other than editing mistakes or formatting blunders, you may also experience the biggest (and worse) expectation of all; the expectation that when you get published, you’ll get a massive advance, your book will be number one on all the book/publishers lists, and will be turned into a blockbuster. The thing with this expectation is that it’s common and we can’t help but have the highest hopes for our books. But when these expectations aren’t met, as the odds of them happening is slim (sorry to say), it is crushing and hard to come to terms with. I even have the grandeur expectation although I know the chances of them actually happening are unrealistic. I can’t stop myself from hoping for the kind of success that J.K. Rowling and Nora Roberts have been blessed with. 

Now I am going to leave you with this: when your dreams fall short of your expectations, let yourself grieve for a short while (an hour or a day at the most), but then it is pivotal that you brush it off and continue to do what you’re meant to do regardless of the amount of success or money you get.

Happy Writing! And Happy Expectations!

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