Why Publish?

To publish means to issue for sale or distribution to the public. I’ve invited author Luanne Castle to share her thoughts about publishing and what it means to her.

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Luanne Castle

Anneli asked me to think about why writers want to get their work published. She said it can’t be about the money, so what is it about?

I do know writers who write for the money. Since I’m not acquainted with Stephen King or his ilk, the writers I know who have aspirations of big advances and even larger royalty checks, are in the not-yet-published category–and pretty clueless, to boot. That’s because–Anneli is correct–there is little money to be made in writing.

That makes writing perfect for me. I have a history of gravitating to low-pay-lotsa-work jobs. When I was starting out as a grad student in the English department, I went to find one of my professors in his office. He was tenured and had been with the department for many years. The door was closed and locked, but taped to the outside of the door was his paycheck stub.  And the pay was about the same that I was making working fulltime in retail.

I was still so new at grad school it would have been easy to back out and apply to law school. But do you think I paid any attention? One day, when I had years of grad school completed and was teaching college as a non-tenured and harried “freeway flyer,” I looked at my paycheck and remembered that warning I’d ignored.

Money is definitely not an incentive to me, although by now I’ve worked in both business and creative pursuits long enough to realize that the world is clearly divided into those who are motivated by money and those who are not.

So why do I want to publish? Having an audience of readers is a powerful incentive for writing. After all, writing is communication as is all art. If we don’t share our stories and poems and blog posts, we aren’t communicating, and communication is how we negotiate our way in the world and build a stronger world community.

I also like to bolster my weak self-esteem and build up my troubled ego by publishing stories and poems in journals and magazines. They rarely pay writers, but it’s nice to know that an editor or editorial panel liked my work enough to publish it. They put their seal of approval on my work by showcasing it in their magazines.

For example, although I plan to complete a book-length memoir, the literary journal Lunch Ticket, run by Antioch University’s MFA program, just published a chapter from my memoir, called “Nuclear Fallout.” You can read it online here, if you like.

Finally, I also think that when I do publish my book, it will make it easier to respond to the usual conversation with strangers.

Stranger:         “What do you do?”

Writer:                        “I’m a writer.”

Stranger:         “What have you published?”

Writer:                        “A memoir called Scrap: Salvaging a Family.”

Stranger:         “Where can I buy that?”

Writer:                        “Amazon, any book store, Target, Wal-Mart, everywhere.”

At least, that’s my fantasy. Now when I say I don’t have a book out yet, they tell me I’m not really a writer.

In the meantime, I’m over at Writer Site.  Thanks so much to Anneli for inviting me to explore the subject of publication over here!

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*Note from Anneli:

If you write, you are a writer. Being published does not change that. Luanne is too modest. She’s an excellent writer. Be sure to check out her blog, Writer Site.

Also, please leave a comment and tell us what you think about publishing.

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11 thoughts on “Why Publish?

  1. Even though I’m on my back going through a barrage of tests at the hospital, one blog I cannot ignore is this one. Why? Because here I get to meet authors writers and it gives me a little insight into the world of published authors.
    Yes I’ve written a book, a technical book 150 000 words on 400 pages, but it is for the specialised market of Golf in South Africa and is all about OH & Safety (techy books are easy)… sold a few, yet still do not consider myself an author… however I have written a book on my life and experiences with wild game which is being edited by the most remarkable Editor… The problem is as much as I want to publish this book it frightens the life out of me.. Sure the Kids and Grandkids want copies, but those will not be sales and yes I did not do it for the money, but for the record of the stories for the family.
    I would never consider myself an author or writer, gosh without my Editor my book is rubbish.
    I find this post interesting and to consider myself in the same class as either Anneli or Luanne, would be climbing up a ladder that does not exist…
    I love this blog..

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  2. Thank you, Rob, for your faithful attention to this blog. I’m so glad you’re finding it interesting enough to keep coming back. As your wonderful editor (ha, ha) I can honestly say that your book has captured my interest from the start and you can definitely call yourself an author. BTW, you’ll soon have the ms.

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    • We learn it if we don’t have it to begin with. Hopefully, there’s a transfer of learning to other parts of our lives and we can practice patience with other things. We definitely need it for good writing. If we’re impatient and publish too soon, it can be a very bad move. There is a lot of re-writing that goes on before publishing.

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  3. Nice place on the web ya got …glad I followed Luanne over here. Never having been solely motivated by money to do anything, it took me quite a few years to find out just what it is that motivates me to write. 40 years. I hope this fact is inspirational to someone thinking of giving up.

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