I just finished reading an awesome post by CJ Lyons about being in charge of your own career. As fate would have it, I’d already planned to write a post about this same topic (though from a less wildly successful point of view). So it thrilled me to stumble across it. As creators, it’s important we own our own careers. There are far too many people willing to shove you in the proverbial backseat for a measly nickel. If they’re shoving you in an actual backseat, bookmark this blog, then dial 911 (in that order).
All kidding aside, if you don’t look out for your career, no one else will. Some of you reading this may be pursuing traditional publication. Some of you may be self-publishing. Doesn’t matter. I’ve got an opinion either way. (When have I ever not had an opinion?) But! The blog-o-sphere tends to get touchy when you even hint you’re offering a one-size-fits-all solution. So let me state up front that owning your own career also constitutes ignoring the occasional crackpot (like me). I am in no way telling you to do any of the following. Instead, I hope that what I’ve written makes you think.
How To Be An Unapologetic Traditionalist:
* If you’re just starting out, for heaven’s sake stop telling everyone you’re not published. Also, pre-published. No good, either. Act as if you just scored a deal with Random House, and your confidence will lasso editors from across the room. Whether or not you can hogtie them is an entirely different story.
* For the newly agented, please never, ever say the following: “I’d love to (fill in the blank), but I have to ask my agent for permission first.” Your agent is not your mother. Your agent is your business partner. Act and speak accordingly. And don’t be afraid to talk to them occasionally. You should fear colon cancer instead.
* Books on shelves? Kudos! Just don’t make excuses for your publisher if/when they don’t pull out the stops for your career. If it’s stagnating, you’re the one who suffers. To get an idea of someone who pushed through their Big Pub difficulties, read the CJ Lyons article above. Now that’s owning it.
How To Be An Unapologetic Indie:
* Wondering if you need permission to self publish a book? You don’t. If you’re not convinced, then I’ll give you mine. Happy?
* If you’re just beginning your journey, don’t worry about detractors, especially if your friends are still pursuing the traditional route. Know what makes you a “real author”? Having “real readers” and making “real money” to pay your “real bills” (to the editor, to the proof reader, to the cover designer…)
* Stand behind your book. If you wrote a great story, tell people about it. Act as if your book can hold up to trad pub equivalents, because it should. If it doesn’t, then own those crappy reviews. You earned them.
* If you’re raking in so much cash from indie publishing that you use $100 bills to wipe your tablet screen (lighting cigars with a Benjamin is so 2008), you should be evangelizing, not downplaying your selfie roots. And then lending me a few bills.
That old Frank Sinatra song comes to mind– “I Did It My Way.” Let’s face it. Most of the everyday rewards are given to those who fit in. Standing apart ain’t easy. So if you’ve already accepted the label of “creator,” you’re a bit of a maverick, aren’t you? Apply that same confidence to your books and your career, and own it!
Your turn. What does “owing it” mean to you and your career? Ever found your career at the mercy of someone else?