View Full Version : Royalty check making me regret everything

03-08-2016, 02:29 PM
This is probably not the section to put this in and none of you probably care, but no one I know really understands what I'm feeling and I thought you, fellow writers, might. And possibly this might serve as a cautionary tale to anyone rushing to get published.

It's been a few years now since I got published and I use that term very loosely. Ever since I started writing in sixth grade, I've wanted others to read my stories and enjoy them. And so I wrote. And I wrote. And I wrote. For years just like everyone else on here. I was told by my friends I was good too, but they were being nice as friends are. And so in high school I finally finished a story! Yay! Right! I thought, "This is my big chance. Time to get published and make my dream a reality!"

Well, I tried. And I tried. And I tried. I got over 100 rejections and my confidence was shot. But I didn't give up. I wrote more, and I finished another story. I tried to publish that one. Nothing, more rejections. I wrote another one and tried again, thinking "This one will be it!" And nothing.

I got so discouraged that I did something I really reject. I used Tate publishing, a vanity press. I paid them and they published my book. Yay! Right? Hurray! Right? I was finally published. But, the initial excitement faded fast and everyone I knew was asking me when it was coming out and such. And as I continued to answer them, I felt it like a sick writhing in my stomach, doubt and regret. They were so proud of me for getting published and I just felt like it was a big fat lie. "I didn't get published", I thought, "I just paid someone to make my book. My book wasn't good enough to get published traditionally." And I was right. I was so right...

It's been two years now since I've been "published" and I've sold my books to my friends and my family, because they support me. But, no one else. I got my first royalty check in the mail this week and it's for 99 cents. 99 cents, what a sick joke. I wish they had just kept it, because now every time I look at it I get that sick writhing in my stomach again.

I feel like I'm a fraud. I feel like my writing is terrible and unfit to be published ever. My name is on that book. I can't ever take that back.

And I know you guys could care less, but take from my example. Don't ever try to publish anything you're not proud of or you'll end up regretting it.

Be patient, because I wasn't.

03-08-2016, 03:05 PM
I'm sorry, Kitty. Please don't feel like a fraud, or a bad writer, or any of those things. The vanity publishers are the frauds, exploiting people's dreams to break into an extremely tough industry.

Are you still writing? If you knew you would never be traditionally published, would you still write? I think that's what's important. Few of us will ever make more than pocket change from our writing. It has to be self-fulfilling.

03-08-2016, 03:16 PM
Oh wow.

Earthling has it right, you are NOT a fraud. You learned a hard and valuable lesson, by following your true passion down the wrong fork in the road. That is not at all fraudulent; it is courageous and heartful. If we never made mistakes we wouldn't learn a damn thing in this world. Mistakes R Us.

That sick writhing you feel is you not letting yourself off the hook for being imperfect, for not getting it "right" the first time out of the gate. Please please please cut yourself a boatload of slack. You can start right now practicing self-forgiveness and self-love. That will serve you greatly no matter what else you do.

And, guess what. We do care. Very much. We all, or at least most of us, know how it feels to have encouragement lead us to a false hope, to have failures cut us off at the knees, to keep going in spite of discouragement because inside we believe in ourselves and our writing and because we really can't quit anyway. :)

You have learned so much, not only from this particular situation, but from all the writing and hard work you've done. I hope you will take that little check and put it in a safe place as a reminder that you've met hard times and are still standing.

And I very much hope you will keep writing.

jaus tail
03-08-2016, 03:56 PM
Everyone makes mistakes. I guess mistakes are something we'll make till we die.

I know it's cliche but maybe you can learn from this. Before taking any step regarding writing(editing a novel, sending a query letter to publisher), post the question here.

On another note you can use this experience and write a story of it. Like about a friend who supported you and write a story about true friendship.

03-08-2016, 10:12 PM
I'm sorry, Kitten. I know it sucks.

However, we ALL make mistakes and we ALL start out with our reach exceeding our grasp. I'm guessing what you're considering a very long time really isn't, in terms of what can be reasonably expected. In fact, it's probably rightfully just called "learning your craft." Many of us also enjoyed writing stories in childhood but that's not on the same level as adult, professional writing.

What you do is think of everything you've learned so far as opposed to where you started, and just keep on going. Writing is improved by more writing, classes and how-to-write books, participating heavily in the critique process both ways, and volunteering to read for contests or small presses (so you can see the slush pile from the other end), as well as life experience.

People expect to be well published right away in a way when they'd never expect to be represented in an art gallery or offered a spot in a well known band after some early efforts. I think to stay with it you really need to enjoy the process itself enough to do stick with it and let the outside rewards come when they will. Good luck!

03-08-2016, 10:25 PM
Stick that cheque in a frame and put it in a place where you will see it when you write. And remember that nothing worthwhile comes easily.

03-09-2016, 12:54 AM
This is probably not the section to put this in and none of you probably care, but no one I know really understands what I'm feeling and I thought you, fellow writers, might. And possibly this might serve as a cautionary tale to anyone rushing to get published.

This forum is full of writers, and you're a writer, so we certainly do care!

My name is on that book. I can't ever take that back.

No, you can't take that back. There's all kinds of stuff none of us can take back. But you can decide to own it, work on your craft, and keep sending novels out to agents and/or publishers. Or you can write under a different name. Lots of writers do that when a first, bad book seemingly tanks their potential careers.

You can wallow in this for a while. It's okay. Sometimes, we need to fully experience the gamut of emotions about a thing—hold it, pet it, catalog ever little facet of it—before we're ready to let it go. So give yourself permission to do that. Publishing a book is full of potential, not unlike a birth, and this was a life cut short. So grieve it however you need to. But then remember, this is not the end of the world. You've got a forum full of writers here who would say you can come back from these things. It's happened to writers before, and it'll happen again. You're not the first to have made this mistake, and you won't be the last who's picked themselves back up and forged on.

I feel like my writing is terrible and unfit to be published ever.

Maybe. That might be true, right now, at this moment. But what kind of writing are you going to produce next month? Next year? You've got some say in that, you know. Writers and their writing are constantly evolving. You have to constantly be putting in the work to consciously improve your craft, but it's completely possible. I can go clang on a piano and then be sad that they won't let me play Carnegie Hall and let that failure define me. Or I can get some unbiased feedback about what's wrong with my playing, practice, and improve on my weaknesses until I'm playing something people want to listen to.

We have to do the same with our writing.

03-09-2016, 12:59 AM
Vanity Publishing, as well as a lot of the self published e-books, are a 'short-cut' to 'success'. Take the rejection letters, analyze the advice given if there is any, ask friends you trust why they think it might not be published or use the share your work and beta readers here. You'll learn a lot quickly. No, you were not a fraud, but neither are you really published. If you love writing, as you seem to, keep at it.

One piece of advice I got when I wrote John Steinbeck about becoming a writer, was to read. Read a lot. Read quality writing, not just cranked out genre. Read paying attention to how the writer uses words, how he or she manages the story. Write, seek advice then write some more. You will get better.

Right now one of my old college room mates has asked me write a review on Amazon of a book he has published through a vanity press. I read it. While it has a nice concept it is poorly written. It's as hard for me to find a way to do so as my name will be under what I write. While I can't recommend it, I can find some positive things to say about it. On the other hand I would much rather have had him ask me to beta read and I could have given him some meaningful feedback. Find friends who are like me (at least as far as this issue) and make them feel you welcome their feedback, that you want the truth, and make them even more aware that you value what they tell you. When you have quite a few such readers throw everything in a heap and pay attention, especially to things that recur, and decide if they apply. You need to be as critical of feedback as you hope they are of your writing. You don't have to make every change suggested (usually impossible anyway) but you need to think about each.

Funny thing is that schools today teach everyone to be too nice, not to come within a country mile of anything that might remotely resemble bullying, so it is hard to find people will to honestly criticize your work. Find people who will, who you trust, and you will cultivate a great friend and you'll be better off for it.

The first book I wrote I found people cried at certain parts, got really mad at me at other points. I also found people who told me it was hard to visual the scene I was writing about. One reader wouldn't talk to me for about a week, but when she did she told me why and actually liked what I wrote even if it created that kind of emotion. She was mad about what happened in the story, not how I wrote. They told me of things that made them laugh and think. Those are the kind of readers who helped me get better and to understand the real quality or lack of quality in what I wrote.

No, you are not a fraud, and you have taught yourself an important lesson. Get good enough someone will WANT to publish your book, not just want your money. Patience and practice should be your main tools. What you published might even be a good book, once you learn more about your craft.

Siri Kirpal
03-09-2016, 03:24 AM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Great points here.

A couple of things:

AW has a huge forum devoted to sniffing out legit and not-so legit publishers and agents. It's called Bewares. Check it the next time you send something out.

Likewise there's a website called Preditors and Editors, which also exposes the scammers and gives credit to the good guys. (But it's sometimes out of date with which agency an agent is at and such like stuff.)

I collected a huge stack of rejections for poetry in high school. Well, I was in high school. So, as various folks have said here, take some time to learn about the craft of writing well.

In the meantime, keep up. Chalk it up to experience and the school of hard knocks. All of us (here and elsewhere) have some stories to tell on ourselves, things we'd just as soon not remember.


Siri Kirpal

Jo Zebedee
03-09-2016, 04:22 AM
Hey! You wrote a book, and finished it. So far ahead of most of the game (remember Aw is full of writers and sometimes forget how few people can do that.)

so, okay, you got a shitty deal on book one. So what? If you didn't get where you wanted to be in any other walk of life would you beat yourself up.

Be kind to yourself. Be proud of yourself. And, if you want, start again with the next book. Each book is a clean slate from the last. Enjoy and be proud.

AW Admin
03-09-2016, 04:46 AM
You are absolutely not a fraud.

Anyone who writes is a writer.

Please don't beat yourself up. Lots of people have done exactly the same, and gone on to writer more and better and get distributed and earn out and get serious money in a royalty check.

Please don't give up. If you're not ready to get back in the saddle again, be a reader for a while.

Read some pieces ind Share Your Work. Read some crits. Try writing a few more crits.

But be gentle with yourself. There's more now than ever before to learn about writing and publishing.

03-09-2016, 05:03 AM

Writing is hard. Publishing is even harder. We care.

03-09-2016, 05:12 AM
This happened to me years and years ago, when I first started. I was a green horn and thought it would be wonderful. I paid 300 bucks and it was a big joke. I was so frustrated with the experience, I terminated the contract. So it wasn't even published and I never got my money back. I swore from that point on, I would never pay a dime to get published. I kept writing and submitting and got tons of rejections, but I was able to get better publishers as I moved on. I'm still getting rejections! haha. You need to just take the good in with the bad. If you truly love to write, which it sounds like you do, things will work out eventually. Perseverance is key. Never give up!

03-09-2016, 07:41 AM
Publishing is a loooong process (so it feels like to me; I haven't been published yet, but am trying), so don't be discouraged because of that. And please don't be discouraged just because you messed up once and decided to pay someone to publish you. It doesn't make you a fraud at all, and it certainly doesn't mean your writing is terrible. It just means you got impatient, which is okay.

Incidentally, what was the book about?

03-09-2016, 03:55 PM
Nemaara, it was just a short story about a woman who has an unrequited love with a friend she's had since high school.

Cathy C
03-09-2016, 04:30 PM
Read quality writing, not just cranked out genre.

Ouch! :scared: I hope you didn't mean that like it sounds. A lot of us write genre that we consider quality writing.

KittenEV, it's hard to get sucked in on false promises. But look how much you learned by the process! We have all had to take a deep breath and push forward. Keep on writing and try the next publisher in a different way. It's all good. No need to feel discouraged. It's all a process.

Dennis E. Taylor
03-09-2016, 08:15 PM
On a practical note, it's not too late to beta your book. It's not like there's a rule about not doing it after you've published. Your current goal, IMO, should be to find out specifically why you aren't getting picked up by agents. You can put a request in for beta readers (or offer a swap) here, or you can go to something like Scribophile or CritiqueCircle and get chapter-by-chapter crits. Or Scrib has groups dedicated to beta-swaps that run on four-week cycles.

The point is that you will always improve over time, but you'll improve faster if you know what to work on. Is there not enough tension? Are the characters too flat? Does your plot telegraph the punch-line? Do you tell too much? Is your prose choppy? There are so many possibilities-- find out specifics instead of thrashing around blindly.