Wednesday, July 4, 2012


While the 4th of July is strictly a US holiday commemorating the independence of the original 13 colonies in the New World as the United States of America, it's a great day for any author to declare his or her independence.

Independence means a lot of different things to different people. But for authors who are trying to get their work published, it means something important and self-affirming. For all you authors out there hoping to get your work published and share with readers, the best time to declare that you WILL do this is right now - today. So, what are you declaring when you declare your independence? You may have your own ideas about this, but here are some things that come to mind when I think of authorial independence...

INDEPENDENCE FROM A CLOSED, ELITE SYSTEM. Specifically, I'm talking about the closed and elite publishing system that has been in effect since publishing a book (putting it in readable format as opposed to verbal storytelling) has historically been a real possibility. From the time of ancient papyrus scrolls, forward past illuminated (fancy letter illustrated) handwritten copies of the Bible painstakingly produced by monks in secluded monasteries, to 1493, when the Gutenberg system of movable type revolutionized the book-making process, publishing has been a closed, elite system available only to a few who were capable of the manufacturing process of book-making. This closed nature of publishing still persisted until around 2007, when print-on-demand and self-publishing services were made reasonably affordable to the masses. The advent of electronic books also made distribution of books easier, virtually erasing the barrier that allowed only an elite few to call themselves publishers, who then decided which authors and which books would be published.

Granted, part of the reason book-making was an elite process was because the skill of reading the written word was not generally possessed by the general population. So, not only did technology have to make the leap, so did education. And, given that there are about 6,000 languages in the world today (not all of them spoken), the task of educating the masses to develop this reading skill was the most monumental task. Right now, that task has largely been accomplished, and technology has arrived to make reading a possibility for nearly everyone - and has made publishing available to a larger spectrum of the population.

Now authors have more choices than ever. They can still try navigating the agent/traditional big publisher closed system, but if they choose not to, there are other alternatives. Small independent publishers, paid self-publishing services, and do-it-yourself free publishing services are all available for authors to try.

INDEPENDENCE FROM SELF-DOUBT. Most people can write in the literal sense, meaning those of us who can read and are physically able, can string some sentences together to record our thoughts for sharing with others. However, that does not mean anyone who can string some sentences together can write a book. Some folks have no desire to do this and therefore won't even try. Some folks have the motivation but can't seem to stick with it or organize their thoughts or carve out the time to complete the task. But for those who can finish, many don't, due most probably to self-doubt.

What if people think my writing isn't good enough? What if they don't like what I've written? They'll laugh and make fun of me, hurt my feelings. I'll be too ashamed to show my face anywhere.

As with any objective you may want to accomplish, if you take the proper steps to achieve your goal, you'll have a much better chance of success. If you want to play professional ball, you'll practice until your skills are good enough. You wouldn't dream of going out on the field and trying to pitch a no-hitter without honing the proper skills first. Why would any wannabe author think that writing a book others will want to read is going to be any easier? It is a skill that is learned, like any other, and the successful application of that skill is certainly affected by chance and opportunity, but in the end is measurable by the results produced. As with baseball, there are tryouts. So try your book out with a small sampling of objective readers before deeming it ready for publishing. Go back and tweak if you get mixed feedback. Once you are sure your product - your book, your result - is worthy of public assessment, then submit for publishing consideration or publish it yourself.

INDEPENDENCE FROM PROCRASTINATION. So, what are you waiting for? Declare your independence today. If you've been wanting to write that book but haven't, start today, and keep going tomorrow and the next day and the next until you get it done. Then, don't just sit on your book - do something with it. Follow prescribed steps for success, and complete the process to the finish. Once you've achieved your goal, if you have more stories in you, waiting to get out and be shared with others, repeat the process and achieve your goal again and again.

There's no better time to start than today - Independence Day. Happy writing!

Patricia Morrison
Penumbra Publishing


  1. Donuts . . . is there anything they can't do?

  2. Obviously Walt has been dunking his donuts in tequila...

  3. To alcohol! The cause of - and solution to - all of life's problems.

  4. Hear, hear! Or is it here, here - bring that beer here, here!


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