letters from the query wars

# of queries read this week: 143
# of partials/manuscripts requested: 1
genre of partials/manuscripts requested: romantic suspense

Dear Authors:

Just this morning I was thinking about how long the odds are — everyone who reads this blog knows from my posts each Friday what my percentages are for responses, and in my experience they’re in line with many other agents (except when Nathan ruins the curve by asking for 50 partials). And, yet, every week there are more queries. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed for a moment by the never-ending tide. Sometimes I’m impressed at the fortitude of authors who keep trying and trying, despite the odds. It’s an amazing testament to their belief in themselves and their story.

And I wonder, what makes a person look at those odds and take the shot anyway? I find myself thinking about that frequently. Not, why do they write? I understand some people just have to. But why do they pursue publication? If they’ve been reading about writing online and/or attending conferences, then it can’t be the money — only a small percentage of writers can live on what they make from their writing income. So, what is it?

And then I had a moment of clarity, and realized it could, to some degree, be the other side of why I read queries every week even though the likelihood of finding what I want to find is slim. Hmmm…. Maybe I’m on to something there.

Help me out. Enlighten me. Tell me why you write. But also tell me why you are then taking what you write and seeking publication.

112 responses to “letters from the query wars

  1. I write for the sheer joy of it. Writing, to me, is like reading, only better. It is a story I create, I mold and perfect. Great books are so few and far between, and it only takes a few hours to read them. When writing, I spend weeks and weeks with the story and teh characters, and watching the work improve–watching my skill improve–is pretty amazing.
    And the idea that next June, people might read my book and laugh and cry is pretty incredible to me.
    I just have a passion for writing that can’t be put into words, which is pretty pathetic when you think about the fact that I call myself a writer, but nonetheless, there you have it. I just love it.

  2. We’re all secretly masochists? 🙂

  3. Publication? Hubris and greed. Fame and money. I want to see my name on the bookshelf. I also wouldn’t mind a little pocket change now and then. It’s a little like winning the lottery, except there’s actually something I can do with skill to make it more likely to happen.
    Just writing… Hm. Partly ’cause I can’t not write, and partly ’cause I can often get some egoboo when I do. It’s all tangled up together now in a queer combination of Pavlovian conditioned response and mandatory expressing of the weirdness gland.
    Good luck on the romantic-suspense one! (…what is romantic suspense? I’m not sure I know the “theme” of that niche.)

    • Hubris
      Definitely hubris. As much as I fight with the “I suck at writing” doldrums, there is this undying part of me that _knows_ I am the best writer that ever walked the face of the earth and if I just keep trying, I’ll eventually get published.
      B

  4. Because it’s fun writing, and once you’re done with that and you have a clean story you can hand out to people, why not try to get it published?
    After all, if the worst happens and it doesn’t get picked up, the worst that can happen is being stuck in a metaphorical drawer for the next twenty years–which would have happened anyway if you hadn’t submitted it, so win-win…
    (well, that, and the masochist aspect)

  5. On the off-chance that we make it. It’s like people who buy lottery tickets every week. Except the cost of shipping is a little less than buying lottery tickets.

  6. I write because I see these people, these places, these events–and when I write them down, I see them so much more clearly.
    And I want to publish so other people will see what I see.
    That, and my huge ego.

  7. To share my stories. To test myself as well, I suppose. Is my writing awful? Are my friends just saying it’s good just because they’re my friends? (Not that my friends do this; they’re quite merciless critique partners, actually.) I’ve always written fiction, first to entertain myself as a child, second because seeing my friends become absorbed in the tale is amazing. Reaching for publication is I think, the next intuitive step after that.

    • Ditto to that! Seeing my friends become absorbed in the tale is the best part for me.
      To God be the glory,
      A SF writer

  8. I write because I have to, and not all of the stories that come about do I look at and say, huh. That should be published. (Ex, the first book I ever wrote was a gay paranormal romance. Then I realized I had no idea whatsoever who would even look at it agent wise, so I put it away. Or sometimes the stories just aren’t that good.)
    Sometimes, though, one will come around that I sit back, look at, and go “wow.” These are the ones that resonate with me, with my usual readers, that have some essential spark that I can’t miss. They’re the stories that I look at and think “someone else needs to see this. God, they’ll love it.”

  9. Why I’ll try to get published? There are so many stories that have touched me, or wowed me, or made me think about somethihng differently, or made me laugh– that have moved me in some way. If I never try to send my story out into the world, then there will never be the chance that it will do that for someone else.
    Why I write? Because it’s fun, and because I want to find out what happens next. Also, it’s a way to figure out what I feel and think about some things that may or may not ever happen to me, by inflicting them on my characters and vicariously exploring that situation.

  10. I feel that writing is an important part of encouraging social change. I enjoy reading non-fiction and fiction both, but I write fiction because I think it can kindle empathy within a reader for kinds of people they may have hated, disliked, or misunderstood before. The kind of fiction I write tends to deal with social issues and oppressed or minority groups (racial minorities, women, homosexuals mostly) and people in political power whom most people have little sympathy for. I think that empathy can go the extra mile to acceptance, whereas pure rational acceptance — while good — doesn’t quite get there.
    It’s not about money or fame for me. I know that if I get published, I probably won’t make much money and most people won’t know who I am. I would do it for free. I’m lucky enough to be in a position where I don’t need the money, though, so I don’t begrudge anyone that.
    I used to work in politics and wanted to run for office for the same reason: social change. Truth is, while I can go through the motions and go to all the social events and make the contacts, I found it miserable since I’m such an introvert at heart. It’s too tiring. What I’m getting at is that I would not enjoy fame for its own sake. Writing was my first love before politics, so I quit politics and went back to writing with a new focus.
    I also write because I appreciate it so much when I read something excellent, especially if it has made me think about something. It’s one of my favorite feelings in the world, and I would like to give that feeling to other people.
    Thinking that what I have written may one day make a difference, even if not a huge one, is enough to keep me writing.

  11. Why not? If I’m going to write anyway then I might as well try to publish. It’s not the time-intensive part, and while the odds of success may be slim, the odds of success of not trying are zero. I don’t really lose anything but postage: worst case scenario leaves me where I am if I don’t try, and any other outcome — including a rejection which includes useful feedback — is a gain.
    (Though should I add that I haven’t been querying agents; thus far I’ve just been submitting short stories directly to markets, and only a few of those at that. And in that world there are also semi-pro markets, so I haven’t found it so impossibly difficult to sell the stories *somewhere* for *something*.)
    As for money — again, why not? If you’re writing anyway, even money that falls far short of a living wage can pay for a nice dinner or a vacation or a chunk of credit card debt.
    Most importantly, to find readers. One reader — especially one stranger who is interested in the story and not me personally — is infinitely more than none.
    And validation, I suppose — I’d rather sell to someone else than self-publish even if arguably my LJ friendslist would provide a larger guaranteed audience than some markets. 🙂

  12. Money. Fame. Adoring feedback.
    Also, ’cause I’m useless for any reputable employment.

  13. I have several reasons for spending the last 4 years writing and pursuing publication:
    1) This is the one thing I truly enjoy doing and am pretty darn good at.
    2) My financial needs are not nearly as great as many out there (one small 5-figure deal would be just perfect for me to make the switch from employment to full-time writer)
    3) Writing is just too much fun–most of the time.
    KG

  14. Because I enjoy doing something I’m good at, and to have people tell me I’m good at it–though I have gotten reviews from, “Loved it, buy it now,” to “Horrible, worst thing I’ve ever read,” on my e-books.
    And it’s nice to have an outlet for telling stories I want to read. And getting paid for them. Just got a royalty check that’ll help cover the cons I’m going to next month. No, it’s not enough to live on, but it’s enough to have a bit of fun on.
    And meeting nifty people; I like going to cons, and meeting all kinds of writers and having friends from all over now. And it’s nice to be part of a community as accepting as the SFF writing community.
    And ego. I finally have a print story coming out in February–yaaay!–and I finally get to hold something I’ve written. I do want recognition. And I want a Tiptree, darn it.

  15. I can’t speak for everyone, but as a science fiction writer I like to tell a story that could be a reality in the future. It would also be something I would like to live and be a part of.
    By getting by story published I could share the thought and see if there are others that would appreciate it and get enjoyment out of it. Making a buck on it would be a bonus. Making a lot of bucks on it would allow me to do what I love full time.
    Look at Jules Verne, whom I consider the father of the Science Fiction genre. He would be delighted to live today and experience the reality of what where once only his visionary dreams in “Paris in the 20th Century” and “20,000 Leagues Under The Sea.”
    Jules’ query letters back then got about as far as mine did with you. So, I anticipate much acceptance….eventually. 🙂
    Had to say that Jennifer, the humor keeps me sane.
    Jim

  16. Well, I am still far from submitting a query for an agent or a publisher, at least with a book. But it’s somehow the same with comics, so…
    I write and draw stories because… I have to. I get the ideas inside my head, the stories… I just have to let them out. If I don’t then, in the short term, they take over my thoughts which makes concentrating on anything else difficult. And in the long term the parts come back incomplete, as pieces get forgotten, and then it’s even more disrupting and irritating as I try to remember them. Having it all written down gives me a peace of mind at the same keeping the possibility to read it and live the story again.
    In Polish there is a term “writing to the drawer” (and it’s as grammatically incorrect as in English). It means you write, but you never show it to anybody. Well, to my mind there is something like the manuscript burning the drawer. What I mean is that it’s really a pity to leave something you’ve spend so much time on pouring your soul and heart into. You want to share it with people. The manuscript wants to be shared. So you seek for the ways you can do it.
    Nowadays there’s the internet. You can share any of your works and even get feedback. It’s pretty nice with art and with comics, but with books… It’s a bit different. Books like paper. People who read books like paper. I know a lot of people that won’t even start reading books or comics on a computer. I don’t mind, but even I like to have a hard copy, something I can hold in my hand, smell and touch. Having your own book printed is more… exquisite. Gives you the sense of achievement.
    And the low pays for the authors… For once, being payed also gives a sense of achievement. I wrote, it got published, I got payed… It makes you feel good. But, what’s better, it also gives you an excuse to write more. Any excuse to create is good. The fact that people enjoy what you create may be a good REASON. But there is no better excuse to create than the fact that somebody might pay for it 😀 (But getting payed should only be excuse or part of the reason to create; it should never be the MAIN reason to create).

  17. Because if I have to suffer through fictional people living in my head bothering me every day, other people need to suffer too. It’s like vectored schizophrenia.

  18. I used to say “I write because I can’t not write.” It’s still true, but I have a better understanding of that now than I did five years ago.
    I did quit writing for awhile. I had an experience that pretty much crushed me, and I literally could. not. write. I would open a Word doc and stare at the blinking cursor, sometimes feeling a little sick. (When I say ‘crushed’ I do not exaggerate. And no one was more surprised than me. At the time, I thought I’d developed a thick enough hide that I was impervious to all negativity. How wrong I was.)
    Some time passed, and though I never consciously chose not to write, no writing was happening. Some months went by, and I sank my creative mind into reading and watching a couple of TV shows. Bored one night, I went searching for fanfic about a favorite character on one of those shows, and found almost nothing readable. (He was not a popular character at the time.) So I wrote my own fic about him. and then I wrote another. And in the course of a year, I wrote about 70,000 words of fic for this show, and maybe another 20k or so of random other fic. One day I actually realized that if you added all those episodic stories up, it was a novel. That I could in fact, write my own.
    Two months later I started one, and I haven’t had much time for fanfic since. I still say “I write because I can’t not write.” I really believe it’s true, that for me, that creativity has to come out in characters and stories and the written word.
    Publication? I’ve been dreaming about seeing my name on a book, and having my words in the hands of readers who don’t know me, since I was twelve. It is absolutely a sense of validation and self worth, to know that one’s words and characters entertain others. And sure, it would be nice to get paid for doing what you love. 😀

  19. I write because I can’t stop, and I’m trying for publication because I love my characters and want to introduce them to other people.

  20. 4. I want to become a better writer. I’m too lazy to work on my writing, really hone it, without a Big Club. Publishing my work before the Goddess and the Critics is that club.
    3. I’d like to have a book on my bookshelf with my name on the spine. A lot of them, actually.
    2. I’m not very good at doing anything else. (That sounds horribly pathetic or self-devaluing, but it is true.) I *can* write. I never valued that as a skill because it’s so easy for me. Publishing is a way of proving to myself — and others — that it does have value.
    1. What, doesn’t everybody want to publish? *wry smile*

    • Iris, I totally get number 2. I’m not good at much else either. And when I *try* to do something else for employment, I am utterly bored to death after about 6 months. I’ve always been praised for my writing skills, so why wouldn’t I pursue publication? It does scare me how hard it is once you even make it to the agent/contract stage. I’ve heard that writing only becomes harder. I just know that each time I start a new book, I get better at it. And that is a heady feeling.
      KG

  21. I write narrative non-fiction about my experiences with spirits and angels because I want to change the world. I believe I can. Working with spirit I heal people who have lost hope. I want to be published because If I can teach/share what I do with doctors, medical students, everybody, I’ve a chance to make a difference to humanity/society. What I experienced with spirit eight years ago will challenge 2000 years of history. I believe in my story.

  22. I send it out because I think others might enjoy reading it too. It’s polite to share.
    That, and it’s an awful lot of work to write something not to share it.
    And, I don’t mind if it’s not published. I do mind, however, if I don’t try to publish it.
    Catherine

  23. I write because it’s all I’ve been doing since I can remember. I have been in love with words ever since I can remember and I love to live through those stories I find in my hands. I want to be able to give that same feeling of escape and freedom to other people.
    I seek publication because life is all about taking chances. I want the world to know my characters, to live through them, to enjoy them, to laugh with them, to cry with them. And of course, I want to see my name on the shelves. 🙂

  24. I write because I have a story I want other people to hear. I seek publication because I want a lot of people to hear my stories. And it doesn’t hurt to imagine, in my big mead hall mind, that somewhere there might be one or two voices asking, “Tell us another?” Sure, it’s cold outside, and dark when the fire goes down, but I’ve got this great comfy rug, and I do really believe the people who’ll ask me for another story are sitting out there somewhere.

  25. I don’t normally leave comments, I am one of the flies on the wall in our lecture theater.
    I have memories. Memories of stories and words. I recall being fascinated by a book of thirty calligraphy styles when I was a young kid. I couldn’t write joined up letters but I loved the ornamentation of the words.
    I used to go the library every lunchtime at school. I didn’t read books, I just looked at them. An author, to me, is an ethereal being. Who else could put so many words together and keep me interested for so many pages?
    I once wrote a letter of thanks to my grandparents. I was seven. It was six pages long. My brother’s letter was one page long but he was four so that’s pretty cool just the same. We found the letters in Gran’s house before she died. Now our parents have them.
    I watched Charles Bronson in Death Wish III when I was about eleven. It was a Saturday night. Once the movie had finished I ripped the pages out of my maths book that had sums on them and began my own story called Murphy’s Law. It got to page three before I fell asleep. I never finished it.
    I made a bet with my brother that I could write a sitcom. I did. I wanted to write a book so I started. I got to page 54 and still hadn’t finished the first chapter. So I stopped.
    Seven years later I turned the story into a screenplay and it’s now in the hand of New Line Cinema.
    In the interim period I won a BAFTA Rocliffe screenwriting award and had various other accolades and projects produced.
    But I was still unhappy. I was not one of the glorious men who crafted large books that keep dust of shelves in libraries.
    Then I sat down and began typing. I have now finished my first novel and am enjoying the rewrite. As I write freelance for television networks here in Los Angeles I am able to get my work in front of influential people. Two agents are apparently awaiting the first readable draft of Barstow.
    The thing is when it does get published, if I do get an agent, If a book tour comes my way, if I turn the story into the series it is outlined for I will still come back to this email in ten years and add three more paragraphs of achievements I have made on my journey to becoming…
    I write because the world in my head is much more than the world outside can be. I have had emails form people saying the characters I have created are amazingly cool.
    That’s nice.
    Don’t they get it? That character is me!
    I write because someday someone might send an email saying I’m amazingly cool. When they do, it’ll probably get caught in my spam filter and I’ll keep on scribbling oblivious.
    Perhaps it’s already happened.
    The other reason I write is pure recycling. I have worn out so many pages with my eyes by reading them I need to create pages of story for other people to read so we don’t run out.
    What would the world be with book stores with empty shelves!
    Thanks.
    Iain H. McLean
    http://roberteisner.blogspot.com/

  26. I write for a lot of the reasons people have stated here. I seek publication because it’s a road to *more* writing. If I can publish something, maybe I can cut back on *one* of my day jobs (I have several, and please note I didn’t say “quit”) and write more.

  27. I haven’t read the other comments, so forgive me for being horribly unoriginal – I’m sure I’m about to be.
    I write because I need to. If I don’t write for more than a few days I get this sick, irritable feeling and I have to get back to it. When I finish a project I get this huge hit of euphoria (Someone said “I don’t like to write, I like to have written” or words to that effect and that’s so true. I hate the actual typing, but when I’ve hit my wordcount target – whatever I set it at – there’s nothing quite like it.
    As to selling – It’s (in my case) a little bit of arrogance, I think – hard as that is to say. I believe in my work and when I get rejections I go “what? What’s the matter with you?” It’s not really real, but it’s like a veneer I hold up – it’s a process and works pretty well.
    I don’t understand (and I apologise for anyone who does this) people who write and are happy to “stick it in a drawer and aren’t bothered if they sell it ever” because I think that what’s the point of that? It was the reason that I started writing original fic after doing a spell in fanfic, because I wanted to sell my work. I’ve been hugely lucky – just about everything I’ve written has sold – and I suppose that helps with the confidence that I think that everything else will. I was rejected for over a year with my first novel, while my short stories sold and sold – but I kept plugging away with it. I knew that gay historical fiction wasn’t even a “proper genre” back then and in the end I was happy to sell to a small publisher.
    But now, Perseus have decided to take a punt on GHF, and next year I go mainstream and I’m really excited. Still havent got an agent, but I have a literary gay novel that Perseus have passed on, so I’m going to try and find an agent for that. I know it’s good, I just need to convince others.
    Sorry for rambling.

  28. I write because I can’t help but write. I tell stories. In order to get to sleep every night I tell myself stories. And some things I put up on my other LJ account (things not suitable for publication – yeah, fanfic). Other stories I send out to try to get them published. Because my ego tells me I have something good enough to share, something no-one else will ever come up with.
    I write for publication because I’ve always been going to be a writer, and how else should I do this?
    I’m coming to the end of edits on my first novel. My second is half written. They aren’t great books, but they’re very readable. I tell a good story. And that, right now, is enough for me.
    I also read slushpile for Hub and Pseudopod. I read to find that gem, that one story which transforms my world, which transforms my outlook, which transforms me. Every email I open is, potentially, that experience. I’m a junkie looking for a story high. *grin* It’s all about the words, baby…
    Thank you for posting your stats, for sharing your work. I find it encouraging, actually, rather than offputting. Best of luck finding your own literary gems. For me, they don’t come along that often, either in my work or in my slushpile shovelling. But when they do, they make it all worthwhile.

  29. To amuse people and to potentially be paid for something I’m good at and don’t hate doing.
    Otherwise, I wouldn’t really write at all, as I don’t get any joy out of just writing for writing’s sake or writing for myself.

  30. I’m going to post my answer before I read the others.
    When it comes to the odds of getting published, I always wanted to be the casino, not the gambler.
    See, the gambler comes in and makes a bet, but the odds are against him. Sure, he might come out ahead at the end of the day but he probably won’t.
    The casino, on the other hand, can afford to lose a few times because the odds are in their favor. The casino always ends the day in the black.
    And it’s the book, the marketability of the hook and a writer’s ability to sum it up in a query that decides whether a writer is going to be the casino or just another gambler.
    It was never the odds that discouraged me. It was my fear that I couldn’t write the book I needed to write.

  31. I’ve always written and will probably always write. I enjoy making my idle fantasies concrete for other people.
    But as for why I submit, that’s because I want to see if I can do it? Can I overcome the odds and get a book out there? Am I talented enough, or lucky enough, to make it happen? There’s no answer to that unless I try.

  32. Why I keep submitting
    Because there’s always hope.

  33. i don’t write just to write.
    i fall in love with my story and
    my world and i want to share it.
    and the best way to do so is through
    publication. which is a crazy process,
    but hey, who said it would be easy?
    i definitely abide by QUERY WIDELY
    (i hit 121 agents =) and to keep
    at it as long as you feel passionate
    about your story. some times, one does
    have to move on, but make sure you
    know you’ve given it all you’ve got.
    your heart will tell you.
    be positive. be professional.
    QUERY AND CONQUER. =)

  34. Writers write because we fall in love, have riveting affairs, travel through time and space, and live multiple lives. But why do agents agent?

  35. Why I Want to Publish
    I’m seventeen, will be eighteen in little more than a week. Every summer, I meet up with my extended family and family friends and end up spending a lot of time with my minions (commonly known as the girls who are on the verge of teendom and follow my every move.) I recently realized that they are perhaps the most impressional kind of people in existence.
    The world tries to be a place where fake tans are encouraged and skimpy clothes are “no big deal”, and I don’t like that. I write about genuine people who worry about education and friendships, not their popularity or the color of their nails. So why do I want to publish? Girls like my younger cousin need a role model, and I want my characters and myself to be that force that guides them. I want to be accessible and change the world with my words.

  36. Because I want to share it!
    It’s as simple as that, really. I write because I enjoy it, and I’m seeking publication because I want to share my stories. Even if I wouldn’t earn a think when it got published, I’d still try, as long as I could afford the time to keep trying. 🙂

  37. pure and simple
    I view publication as a way to validate my writing. And accompanying that…as a way to validate ME.

  38. “I think that all artists, regardless of degree of talent, are a painful, paradoxical combination of certainty and uncertainty, of arrogance and humility, constantly in need of reassurance, and yet with a stubborn streak of faith in their own validity no matter what. ” – Madeline L’Engle
    I love this quote, and I think it goes to the heart of what you are asking. True, passionate artists, people who truly care about their craft and cultivate it and feel complete by doing it, have faith in their own validity no matter what. I separate artists from casual hobbyists on purpose. People who are passionate about a creative art such as writing, those who are dedicated to developing that skill, are the only ones who can truly feel what Madeline L’Engle is describing. A huge part of the validation she mentions is sharing ones work with the world and giving others the opportunity to recognize the work as true art(I realize that the term “art” is subjective.) It is worth the risk to attain this recognition from others of that accomplishment of being a published writer and the validation of artistic abilities.
    Also, I feel that writing is an act that seems complete in its creation only with the final step of publication.
    Or, we’re just a bunch of sadists. Take your pick.

  39. Because how can you know if you’re good if you’re not published? That’s my artist side.
    My practical side just goes O_O and says, “Otherwise what’s the point?” That would be like…painting without a canvas I guess. Its not a finished product to me until its a real book. Until its a book its just a manuscript in my head, and while its neat to have made some manuscripts, what I really want to make are books.

  40. I’ve always been driven to write. I wrote my autobiography at age 6, for chrissake. (“Chapter One: The Early Years.”) At some point it occurred to me that people do this with their lives, so I decided I’d be one of them.
    I further decided to be a screenwriter, because I have a pretty good ear for dialogue — I’m a musician too. So I went to college to learn screenwriting. And I did. I learned what makes a good screenplay. I also learned I couldn’t write one. Partly that was because I was 18. You can only write about what you know, and at that age I didn’t know a damn thing.
    So I gave up screenwriting, got a real job, built a family, and took a break from writing anything longer than a 45-second news item and the occasional, quickly-abandoned story idea.
    And then a couple years ago I was sitting in a doctor’s office when the protagonist of my first novel sprang up in my head started talking to me. He sounded interesting, and I wanted to spend a little time in his world. As it turned out, I spent 26 months there. I’m no longer 18, and I have things to say now.
    Now I’ve got this book I’m fiercely proud of — too proud to keep it to myself. I’m seeking publication because I believe someone else will see in it what I see. It hasn’t found its home yet, and I know the odds are long, but you can’t win if you don’t bet.

  41. I write because i enjoy it. I live in stories, mine or other people’s most of the time anyway, so I might as well put it on paper (or at least in bites in the computer).
    I want to publish because I want to share my stories with other people.

  42. I write for publication because I believe in my stories. I believe I have something to say, and that it will speak to someone else out there, as well.
    It’s easy to get disheartened, but every now and then, something really good happens, or someone goes out of their way to help you when they don’t get anything from it. And that gives me the motivation to keep submitting in the face of rejection.

  43. I seek to be published for the same reason astronauts want to float amongst the stars.

  44. Why we want to publish
    Jennifer,
    When I read a really terrific story it takes me away, and for a while I’m happy—really happy. I want my book published because I want to make someone else feel that way.

  45. Why we do it
    You assume I have a choice in the matter.
    It ain’t that I suck at everything else. I don’t.
    It’s just that I don’t understand life without writing. Can’t do it.
    I ain’t a junkie lookin’ for the next story high, though.
    I’m the dealer.
    Wanna taste?
    -Will Entrekin

  46. Like everyone else, I can’t not write.
    But so far as getting published goes, a story isn’t complete until a reader brings hirself to it and reads it. The problem with the odds is not how frustrating it is not to get paid for my work or get my name on the bookstore shelf, although those would be nice, too. It’s all those stories I’ve got waiting to be completed by readers who aren’t someone I know personally. If there was another way to do it, I would, but self-publishing either electronically or in print is not going to get me the numbers of those people I don’t know that I crave, and I don’t know how else to do it.

  47. Why do I write? Why do I pursue the dream of publication? Do I not recognize the truth of the odds?
    I write because I believe I have something to say. More than that, something worth hearing. I write because I value language and appreciate a well-constructed phrase. Certainly there is a large helping of ego buried in there somewhere, and I’ll admit that. I’d like to think that somewhere there are people, at least a few, who would enjoy reading what I’ve written. That may be delusional, but it’s none the less true.
    The odds? Sure they’re terrible. But when I read the stories of authors, successful authors, who beat the odds simply by playing enough, then I take hope. Tom Clancy, who collected rejection letters by the bushel until the Naval Institute Press decided that Hunt for Red October might be the first time they chose to publish a novel. He “won” by asking enough people. Dear old Dr. Seuss, who was on the verge of burning his manuscripts in the gutter when an old friend, who happened to be an assistant to the assistant editor saw him and tried to help him out of the hole by reading what he had written. Joanne Rowling, who hit the big time with a story she constructed during one of the most “down periods” any person can have.
    They beat the odds, so…as the phrase goes…why can’t I? Will I? I have no idea, but eventually I’ll be able to say that it didn’t fail because I didn’t try. I’m 60 years old, and this story, along with others, has been trying to get out of my brain for most of those years. What do I have to lose?
    Craig

  48. Probably the same as another comment, but I want to be picked up by a major publisher to prove that someone other than my friends and family find my work enjoyable.

  49. why you are then taking what you write and seeking publication.
    Because the worst you can do is say no. It’s a guaranteed no if I don’t at least give it a try.

  50. Why do musicians try for the coveted few positions in top orchestras? Why do actors toil away at auditions year after year with so many others trying for Broadway/film/tv? We’re artists. We love what we do.
    It’s not easy. But something wells up inside me and I have to get it out. I have to share it and influence the world in a positive way, if I can. I hope I make it to publication, and if I don’t at least I will always know I tried. I didn’t betray myself or the long hours spent at work with my characters and their stories. That’s why.

  51. When I was young and foolish, I guess I thought there was glory and respect and money involved (I must have thought that once). By the time I realised that there wasn’t enough of any of those to go around, I’d graduated to wanting the professional/public seal of approval on my work. Then I realised that selling books isn’t about how well written they are, or how smart the ideas are, or whatever, but whether they’ll make money — so all I’d prove by getting published is that someone thought I’d sell. Past that point I’ve carried on trying because there’s still a challenge to writing my stories in a publishable form, and/or it’s the only lasting way of having respect in the writerly community, and/or that there’s the lottery ticket chance of making some money, and/or to be finally for good finished with the things, or just the realisation that if I’m going to keep writing I might as well keep sending out the queries.
    All these explanations and many more are true, or will be, somewhere along the timeline. But I think they’re just the dazzle on the water, and the underlying urge stays constant — trying to be for someone else what my favourite writers have been for me and to provide for others what my favourite stories gave me (comfort, challenge, enlightenment, inspiration, encouragement, escape… )

  52. I write because I enjoy it and I like bring my imagination to other people. That and it helps me relax and gets those lovely ideas out of my head where they belong, on a computer and in your mailbox.
    As for publication, I’m going to say, its a cap. Writing for yourself and friends is good and everything, but sometimes when you worked on something for a year, you wonder if it could stand up to the big girls. And, publication is a way of finding out if you are a hot shot only in the bathroom or someone who deserves merit when compared to someone other than the mirror.
    That and the desire to be famous and rich.
    … um, wrong field, right?

  53. I write because I love stories and I love words. I seek publication because I have this insane ego that says that possibly, just possibly, someone else might enjoy the stories too. I think most writers are this way. We’ve been touched by or had a lot of fun with other books and so part of seeking publication is an attempt to give back and also to emulate the authors we admire. Okay. It’s ten at night and I haven’t had any coffee but I think I got my general idea across.

  54. Why Do It?
    Any Herculanean task, whether that task be eight years of med school with no wealthy parents to fund you, to proselytize an unpopular view to the apathetic masses, or just seeking to have your twisted worldview injected into the collective bloodstream of The World – it all stems from an unflinching belief in what is Right.
    Now we have to understand the relativity of the term “Right” but overall, an author at some point tells himself this, his laboriously hammered out manuscript, is Right, and what’s more, it should be Validated. Which is the other key component in this Sysiphean endeavor. For it only becomes Right through Validation. The ego of a writer, no matter what they tell you, or rather what they SHOW you (Hemingway?), is a fragile and perpetually anemic thing. Validation from family will feed it for a minute, from a workshop peer group for a few days more, and then the ravenous little beast with the metabolism of a shrew requires more raw meat. Having exhausted all local supplies of Validation (aka “The Spice”) this now pre-adolescent scamp rages throughout the countryside in search of better praise, higher caliber Validation. This is where most authors’ egos wither and die: in this vast wasteland between Amateur and Professional.
    The hobbyist writer has some choices to make here: do I simply document the final rattles of life in my little ego and resign myself to the fate that will without fail come, and reflect upon those minor blips on my achievement radar while I plow through another forty hour workweek and the accompanying TPS Reports? Do I make some misguided but last ditch effort via Booksurge, Blogger, or some other lamentably dead-end media that might afford my ego a few more crumbs of this manna known as Validation?
    Or…
    Do I lead my starving little friend back over the previous praise, combing through the leftovers for any additional nourishment, shoring up reserves for the battle ahead? Do I drag the ego across the country to conferences, do I set him up outside the post office, or at stamps.com with a steady supply of manila envelopes, with the addresses of lit mags, agents, and contests from all over? Do I then look at my little friend, my now lean and mean, athletically efficient ego, and tell him to trim further fat from his writing? Do I hand him the scalpel, ala Se7en, and ask him to cut the excess from himself, so the Agents, Editors, and Publishers will see a scarred but fit life in front of them, which we all know is the most interesting and salable of lives. After much refining, revising, and learning to live on little to no praise, the ego becomes tougher, less affected by the former sources of Validation, his digestive system evolves from milk to complex proteins, and needs the latter on far grander scales. This process prepares Ego for the larger battles ahead. So we, hand in hand, walk down the streets of Manhattan looking in the virtual windows of those outlets, knocking on their electronic doors with our queries, our lives and our Right Worldview That All Need To Know clenched tightly in our fists, because this little document, this handful of data is our meal voucher in a world where Validation and Praise are perpetually rationed.
    I outgrew the taste for familial and token praise a long time ago, and I needed praise for my work in other forms, and to date, the only way to have that praise measured, is in sales, which can then be used to proffer praise from Pulitzers, Nobles, and the like. Everything leads to something bigger, and the writer who wrote about his hamster “Hammy” in 3rd grade now needs progressive Bookscan numbers, he needs multi-city dates in Barnes and Nobles throughout the lower 48. He needs Validation.
    And what better sense of validation could one receive when trained professionals, whose job it is to say no, not out of some sense of morbid ant-burning-with-a-magnifying-glass as we sometimes are left to dream, but because there has to be someone to keep the gates closed, there has to be a source that say, “you are not ready.” Once that gatekeeper says, “enter please,” your stomach grows, your pulse quickens, and your ego now hungers for a new type of food, one that can only be found out there, in the collective bloodstream of The World.

  55. Why does one play music? Or paint? Or garden? Or work on cars? Or read even. There has to be pleasure there — or addiction (or a bit of both). There’s great arrogance — ah, someone will want to read these words. And the utter thrill of the high dive, the tightrope, the leap into faith.
    There’s misery when it doesn’t work or connect — the misery of being one voice lost and unheard and misunderstood. When the words don’t sing it’s cacophony in your head (ah, stupid, stupid, stupid). But why not play music, or paint, or garden. Expression must find an outlet–and sometimes it’s with getting drunk on words, getting lost in another world, getting high on the delight of when that high dive is perfect, the tightrope crossed, the leap landed.
    There’s research that shows the most effective form of reinforcement is random–if you hit blackjack every time, the game becomes boring. If you never hit, the failure is too much. Writing brings its own reward, but there’s never anything so sweet as someone saying, “I loved your story.”
    It can be said with words….or money works, too.

  56. I’ll take a line from Serena Williams on this one…
    The reason I won’t just shove my writing into a drawer and accept mundane jobs for the rest of my ife is because it’s not enough to be a hobbyist, at least not for me.
    I realize this sounds completely arrogant, and I apologise ahead of time:
    I have to believe I will be one of the best in some way at doing what I do, or I don’t have the self-confidence to do it.
    Even if it’s only at doing something ridiculously specific, such as ending a chapter with a certain dialogue twist on a mutant werewolf in a spaceship or whatever, I have to think that I can take an overused plot and make it new for readers. It’s not that words are wasted if only I read them, because I would write for myself frequently if I could afford it. But the only way I can see to spend so much of my time doing what I enjoy is if I eventually make a living from it.
    I tried out for three years for every dramatic production in my college. I tried out for some a capella groups for three years in a row and endured humiliating auditions and weeks of stress and late nights only to be disappointed. I didn’t win parts or a slot in a group until the fourth year. I did the same thing in high school and went from having two left feet to being a featured dancer in a musical. I ought to be able to sell what I do best at some point to somebody. {Failure is merely the crucible one must endure before one succeeds.)
    I [will] submit because I have to write. I write because I have to enjoy my life in some small measure.

  57. I write because I want to find out what happens in the story. I sought publication because it never occurred to me not to. I also never doubted that I would succeed. It’s good to be confident, sometimes. 🙂

  58. Because my momma told me to, and you don’t argue with her.
    Yes, I’m serious. However, I agree with the 2nd (or so) comment. We’re all secretly masochistic.
    And because the people we let see what we’re addicted to doing/slavishly devoted to all ask “so, are you going to do something with this?”, and we get tired of shaking our heads or saying “no, it’s just something for me/something I like doing” and then being berated for “not even trying”.
    Besides, the query/publishing process makes for interesting dinner conversation. Funny you should bring up this topic. It’s the question that’s been running around my head the last few weeks, and really, I’m still thinking about the real reason. I don’t think it’s just one thing.
    I’ve thought about stopping, and putting it away, in large part because of the odds/everyone has a novel/everyone writes, etc. But then I get over it and go write something. (Besides, I’ve been doing this since I could hold a crayon. It would be like stopping breathing.)
    Because I’m a writer. I realized that when someone asked me the other day what I did, and the words “I write” came out. Never mind the day job, etc.
    I write.

  59. I write because I want my son to know what the act of writing looks like and to have the stories I’m writing for him when he’s old enough to enjoy them.
    I contaminate agent slushpiles with my query letters because, well, my spouse keeps nagging me about it. (You haven’t got one from me yet, but your turn will come.) If it weren’t for her motivating influence, I’d blow off the whole query battle and just post my stuff on a web server somewhere.
    When I do the math, it makes no sense to endure the frustration, given the abysmally poor odds of success. Even when you do find a publisher, the payoff for a first novel rarely covers more than the average costs out of pocket to promote the book. I’m never going to make enough money at publishing to make quitting the day job a sensible idea. The math for publishing my work is clear: it’s not worth my effort to try. My spouse, on the other hand, isn’t interested in looking at the math. She wants to see the books on the shelf at the store. So, she nags, and I send query letters. That’s how it works.
    Sorry. Wish I had a less depressing answer for you. I don’t. Sigh. Really… I enjoy the writing. I hate the query process, and I wouldn’t do it without being nagged into it by my spouse.

  60. Why would you bother to write a story and then share it with no one?
    Of course, one can always share it with people free on the internet, that’s how my husband makes his living. But there’s a sense of permanence to books, and both authors and readers want that. Unlike digital media, print publication works much much better with a publisher, so of course it’s something to pursue despite the odds.

  61. It seemed like a good idea at the time…
    *grins*

  62. In martial arts, which I also study, one of the things that defines a black belt is that they take ownership of their art. They stop practicing and it becomes part of who they are and influences everything that they do. Writing is like that. It becomes part of what defines you as a person. I’ve read multiple comments here where people say they write because they feel compelled to, because it’s who they are. They are no longer people who write, they have become writers. This is why I write.
    I do not write for myself alone. That sort of thing sends you blind. Writing is a lonely activity but a participative sport. There is this other person called “the reader”. Only in the mind of your reader do your characters, your setting and your story come to life. You can try and become the reader (and you should) but you know too much. You can only pretend. Only in the reader’s mind is your story ever truly created. Only by sharing your work can you have readers.
    And then there are those beautiful artifacts called books. To have one’s own work on the shelf among the names of those whose work you have treasured? That is part of it. To have the respect of those authors? Well that’s another step up. To be recognised as someone who expanded your art, contributed something unique and valuable and
    brought joy into the hearts of others? That is something truly worthwhile.
    That’s why I want to be published.

  63. why?
    My parents told me I would never finish anything–that I didn’t see things through to the end. This is one way of proving them wrong. I’ve finished and tried to publish two novels now, and though neither of them has been sold, this second one is getting some good feedback and several agents are currently looking at partials. My folks know I’ve taken these two manuscripts as far as I can take them alone. Yay! One point for me in the familial power struggle!
    Beyond that, I love to write and really don’t understand completing something and not trying to get it published. It’s too darn much work (despite the enjoyment derived) to let it sit in a drawer for the rest of my life. And I love talking about my writing, my characters, and the process to completion. I’m a teacher, so I would truly enjoy public speaking appearances about writing in general, or my own work. I know some shun the public presentation venues, but that’s no problem for me. I really wish I could get to that point.
    Lisa Iriarte

  64. It’s simple:
    Ego boo
    Satisfaction
    Sharing
    Validation
    A little cash
    It may never happen but I will try.

  65. I seek publication against long odds because yeah, I DO believe in my story. Maybe this one, maybe the next one, maybe the one after it, but one of them WILL get published. Because Jim Butcher shopped his stuff for years before it got picked up. Because the folks like him who do make it never stopped trying. These are the people I respect, the storytellers who give me a fun place to go for a while. I will try to emulate them in the hopes that I’m one of the ones who do make it. If I’m not, well, I tried. You miss every shot you don’t take.
    I want to share my stories because I’d like to be the person who people look forward to reading, even if it’s a small group (though I prefer a very LARGE group) because the story says something to them that they need to hear. I’d love to be able to give my readers a hero they can believe in, and a few hours of entertainment, where the good guy does win, even if he doesn’t always get the girl or end up rolling in money. Because too often, that doesn’t happen in the real world. And, because I want to get paid to daydream.

  66. I write because it’s cheaper than going to a therapist.
    mythicagirl.wordpress.com

  67. If I don’t write, I don’t sleep. Simple as that.
    Since I’ll be writing anyway, I may as well see if anyone else wants the manuscript. If not, I bin it. If they do want it, and pay me for it, that’s more money I can spend on books.
    mpe

  68. There comes a time when writing *just* for your own amusement isn’t enough. And when you feel that your writing is no worse than other books that _did_ get published – if they did, why not you? And you want to share your stories with the world.
    Also, I think the statistics are misleading. You are bound to get a lot of people who have a vague idea they want to be published, fire off a few (or many) queries, and give up. And you’ll also get a lot of queries from people who are serious about publication, who do the right things, hone their queries, and query lots of agents.
    My gut feeling – looking around the writers I know – is that 95% of the serious, professional writers *will* get picked up. They might not have a long and prosperous career – there’s so much more to it than _just_ publishing a book or three – but professionalism and persistence seem to be the key. Given those experience, it’s unlikely that I should be the odd one out, the one whom everybody hates through no fault of my own, etc etc – so that, for me, is an incentive to be professional, to query the book I’ve polished and write a better one and send _that_ out when the time comes.

  69. I actually don’t think the odds are that bad. Or, at least, I don’t think that my odds are that bad — when I was querying for my most recently completed project, I got a great many form rejections (including, alas, one from you.) But I also got a handful of requests for partials, and a couple of requests for full manuscripts.
    There’s an expression in modern Hebrew — to accept an unpleasant fact is referred to as “swallowing the frog”. And I’ve reached a point where I’m willing to swallow this particular frog, and accept that this project might not be good enough to be publishable. But it came close. And the next one will be better.
    I might have to stop writing novel length fiction for publication, for one reason or another. But I don’t think I’m deluding myself in believing that I’m going to be writing publishable fiction if I continue; if not the next project, the one after that. The process may be inscrutable, but it gives enough information to let me know that I’m close, if not quite there yet.

  70. Why Do I Seek Publication?
    Validation.
    How can I say, “I’m a writer” if I only have a few short story “sales” (mostly for little to no money) and a couple of essays to my credit?
    Well, I can and do say it. I am a writer, and I continue to write even when it’s just for my hard drive and I’m not submitting. But I’d sure love to have a couple of novel sales to back that up . . .
    Getting closer.

  71. Why do I write?
    For the joy of it. For the art of it. And for publication. I write with an eye for being published. The money isn’t that important. But it would be nice. I write for the dream of it. That dream of seeing the words and story I have created between the pages of a published book. For all those reasons. That’s why I write.

  72. I write because I love it, plain and simple.
    Submission for publication is a little trickier. I used to do it because I wanted to prove that I belonged to the club of writers who were good enough to get their words into the local bookstore. I needed that validation when I first started off, and that kept me going for a long time. I loved what I did, granted, but I also wanted to be told I was good at my chosen craft, and seeing myself in the local bookstore provided a clear benchmark for doing so.
    I’ve since had a change of heart concerning this desire. I now *don’t* need that validation, because I’ve been working on my craft for long enough to have seen a dramatic improvement in the material I produce. Match this with things I have read in the bookstore that had me shaking my head in how awful they were (authors whose names I will not say here, because it serves no purpose to do so) and I now know that my skills have reached the level where I am “good enough” to be a member of that club. I don’t need a published manuscript to tell me something I already know; I know that I haven’t been published yet because the circumstances and luck have not opened that door for me. If I keep on submitting, it will eventually happen, even if it takes a much longer time than I had originally hoped.
    As for the continuing process, it’s really very simple. I swore I was going to get into print, and I have fulfilled every pledge I have made (playing guitar, quitting smoking, baseball, and so on) and I’m not going to allow this dream to fall by the wayside just because I am racking up the form rejection letters by the boatload. The other part is even simpler. If I quit now, all the time, effort and money I spent researching, submitting and then waiting with bated breath would ultimately be for nothing, and I passed my own personal event horizon on this quest quite a long time ago.
    Not quitting, very simply, isn’t an option. Failure and I have never gotten along.

  73. It’s kind of surprising how many people out there doing this. My mind boggles!
    But to answer your question, I write because I enjoy doing it (of course), but also because I like to entertain people through stories. And because I want to reach as wide an audience as possible, I try for publication.
    Really? There’s nothing I’d rather do with my life.

  74. wondering the same thing
    At first, I didn’t write for publication. I wrote for me, to have a story that I wanted to read. After it was done I tried to get it published, and suffered through the process of getting an agent until I realized that I simply can’t write query letters. So I went straight to the publishers and asked them instead. One of them took a chance on me and published my first two novels, as well as a number of short stories in various anthologies. When the first novel came out, many years ago, I discovered how hard it was to get the book into the hands of readers, and the sorts of activities authors would be expected to do to accomplish this. Since none of my books appear in bookstores I started my own bookselling operation, and now I carry every book my publisher does in paper, because no one else does. But now I’m not so sure I want to be published. Every book just seems like another dead weight for my publisher to carry around, and I don’t want to burden her with it, since I also don’t want to do the kind of things I see discussed in all the books on marketing and ‘getting my book noticed’. Just reading the book gives me a hadache, I’ll never actually do any of that. I don’t do ‘spin’, or ‘buzz’, or metrics. I write excellent books, and I can talk about books forever, and my books are far more worth reading than most of the crap I see on the bookstore shelves. If quality isn’t enough, if hard work isn’t enough, I don’t know if it’s even worth it.

  75. You mean why am I up at 2:00 am writing when I need to lead worship at 8:00 am getting up at 530am?
    Hi thanks for the add I have meant to say that. I enjoy reading you. Agreed you asking this question is proof positive your a glutten for punsishment and why I enjoy reading you. you teach me much, thank You!
    Personally I write because the written word quite simpley, has “creative power”,writing the stories, being apart of that, gives writers a small way (yet larger then many may know), to be a part of shaping others throughts, while expressing theirs. Same as the spoken word, why people will be on TV all hours of day and night motivating, selling, giving testimonsy, preaching, doing infermercials, sure money is a big part of it, its needed..but shaping thoughts is powerful Its all about what we choose to listen to, and accept as truth.
    Barry Manilow wrote”I write the songs that make the whole world sing” and he did Oh co’mom its just us, sure ya love Copa Cabaanna, ya sing it right? And Mandy ya cant help yourself, its okay..he did write the songs the whole world sings, see..
    As children we believed in fairy tales, before bed because it helped us sleep,nursery rhymes because it helpedus learn in a fun way, mysteries because sometimes the journey is mind bending as just that suspeces was and we compareare pschyes too, and we all want to know we are not so strange we NEED to believe in the whackey impossiable Sci Fi..mystery, ghost stories, Romance, magik because we all need a good loves story to keep looking for ours or making it, we read to reinvent ourselves.. we read blog, journals, non-fiction essays, because everyone has opinions , experiencing all things so differntly, as well as the same to show diversity and comfort in a sense of normality and support, because we all need toKNOW were okay.. our minds sane ,keep speech free, written, spoken heard, and read, continue to educate..We read, we write, we speak, we sing, for all the same reasons As long as people need comedy , mystery, spiritualy inspiring, history, romance, drama,We wil all keep writing.. cause whe ya think of it this way-the odds are nt that bad.
    And if we can get paid for it, this is a bonus, make a living like all the greats, leave a wriitng legacy or our thoughts, have that too it is icing on the cake!
    But you knew this all along! I know ya did – I will now take whats behind door #3 cause I know there is a prize ..Right.. door #3 always works Right? great question
    Peace♥
    MtM

  76. Because you asked so nicely…
    I write because I can’t not write. I get lots of wonderful stories in my head and must write them down so they don’t either disappear completely or make my head go ‘splodey.
    I seek publication because I enjoy my stories so much, I think that others would enjoy them as well.
    And then, there were other writers who published, and I love their work very much.
    It’s a “sharing the love” sort of thing.

  77. Why do I write? That’s a really good question. I was a weird kid and teenager. In fact I think I’m still a little bit of a weird person, only now I’m okay with it. I had no siblings and was always the ‘old person’ among my friends. Writing was the only way I knew to release my mind and feel free.
    As long as I can remember I could make up stories. However, I was always too shy to share them with anybody. I would always write them for me. When my girls came along I started writing a story for them. Only them would listen to my weird tale and they loved it. Finally my husband thought someone else needed to listen to my stories and encouraged me to get it published. He’s the reason why I seek publishing. He made me realize that I would love for some other person to read my story. Recently I shared my plans, of what I’m working on, with a friend, she can’t wait for more. It made me very happy to know that someone, other than me, wants to hear more about what happen to this characters. I know that not everyone would like what I write, but if just one person likes it, that would be good enough for me.
    Besides if I don’t write the ‘voices’ in my head won’t go away, LOL. Thanks for the exercise, it really had me thinking.

  78. why do they keep submitting? easy
    it’s because the threshold for entry is so low.
    1) if you’ve got access to a word processor,
    2) if you’ve got access to the internet.
    Oh, I forgot. 1) should be “if you can read.”
    Make them write everything out longhand on crappy foolscap with a quill pen and queries would drop off sharply.

  79. Hmmm, I thought I answered this.
    I write because my mind is constantly converting things I see into scenes. I see people and create stories about them. I see weather and describe it. Much of the time this filed away information reappears in stories.
    I was a staff writer for a horse racing magazine for several years and told my editor once, “I wish I was a real writer.”
    She responded, “Why do you think we send you a check every two weeks?”
    I believe in the story. It plays like a movie in my head and amazes me as I watch it. Then I struggle to put it into words.
    Sometimes the characters are created slowly. I mold and push the clay around, adding details, changing this or that until they look real. At other times, they walk onto the stage fully formed and wink at me. They begin revealing their stories and tell me to keep up. That’s when the magic surrounds me.
    Melding the meticulously crafted characters and their stories with the magical beings who just appear is work, but it fascinates me. I want to share it.
    I gave up a lot just to be able to write. Being published would be affirmation it wasn’t in vain.

  80. Why do I want to get published?
    I send out queries, revise my work then resend in the hopes that one day I may be able to call myself an author. Also it is the idea of giving up on my dreams that keeps me mailing out those dam query letters. I see it this way (I may be alone in this idea) it could take a person 10 to 15 years to work their way up into a company so what if it takes you that long to sell your work-at least you did-right? If you give up that’s forever and if it takes time well, then that’s what it took to make it happen.
    Your right in suggesting that it isn’t about the money, although I am a true believer that you could earn a good living with the right marketing.
    In the end it’s about validation. Am I good enough for people to want to read and pay for my work? Getting published is only the beginning it’s creating and maintaining a strong fan base that will truly answer that question for me.
    Thank you for asking such an important question. I would just like to add that for myself another strong reason would be to find a home (other on my computer) for my character Penelope, she deserves to be heard.
    Sincerely,
    Nicole Cabrera

  81. I know in my case, it’s because I want to be able to give to others what my favorite authors have given to me.
    I want to give them a story that takes them away from this world for a while. I want to give them characters so real that those characters are loved almost as much as family. I want to give them hope.

  82. I guess it’s as you say: I’m writing because I have to, because I have this slim hope of getting my imagination on paper in a way that can entertain. For years I didn’t think of publication, but the original stories I’ve shared seem to bring those I know, and don’t, the same measure of fun they give me in writing them.
    If I never get published, it won’t be the end of the world. But, if I do, well then maybe I can bring a smile, a laugh, or a shiver of anticipation to someone when they really need it – just as other authors have done for me.

  83. I write because I honestly cannot help myself. Reading a good story inspires me to acheive the same -reading a bad story inspires me to do better – and not reading at all leaves my world feeling dull and monotonous which inspires me to liven things up a bit.
    To me, publication is important because my world and my characters deserve to have their story known to the SF/F community. I’ve spent years with these people, crafting them, molding them, and making every step of their journey an adventure. They are a part of me – somewhat real to me – and I can’t just leave them trapped in the confines of my computer or the dusty pages of a home-printed manuscript. Their story is one that deserves to be enjoyed by all, not just me.

  84. I try for publication because writing is the career I want. I could be a history teacher or a linguist or any number of other professions, and I’d enjoy them, but I wouldn’t love them the way I love to write. It’s hard work, it can be frustrating, but I can’t imagine getting the same satisfaction as a teacher. There’s nothing like picking out the perfect words to finish the scene I’ve had in mind for three months. The other reasons provided–seeing my name on a book cover, and my book on the shelf of a bookstore–apply, too, but I could write quite happily all day every day for the rest of my life. Whether what I write sells…well, if I don’t try, I’ll never know.

  85. I write because my mind fills with the characters and the stories, and I need to get them out! I also like to share them with others, and I love the sheer excitement that comes when I know I’ve written a passage that perfectly conveys to others the image I see in my own head.
    I seek to publish mainly because, 1) I would like more people beyond my family and friends to enjoy my stories, and I dream of having “fans” someday who love my books, and 2) also, as a Christian, I recognize that God has given me the ability and skill to write, and I wish to glorify Him in my efforts. There is a lack of good Christian books out there, especially in the genres I most commonly write in (SF&F), and I wish to prove that a book written by a Christian can be well-written and enjoyable – even enjoyable for people who do not share my faith. So that is why I attempt to publish.
    To God be the glory,
    A SF writer

  86. Why do we seek publication? Equal parts narcissism and self-delusion.

  87. I’ve been writing since I was 8 years old. I never even thought of sending something out until I hit my 30s. Then, suddenly, I fell into a job in television and the very next season sold my first script. Everyone told me it was impossible to sell a spec television script. But I did. I got an agent. I went on to writer for a number of network shows. All the way people kept telling me how impossible it was to do what I was doing.
    So, I’m going to write anyway. I’m selling short stories, why not a novel. When I decide I want to write a certain kind of thing, I study it. I don’t just think, oh, I think I’ll write a novel and sell it. I study, read books, take classes (at Clarion West John Kessel asked my why I was there when I was already a professional writer. I said because I want to be as good at writing prose as I am at writing scripts). So now I’m up to novels. This is my third novel — and the first one I’ll be sending out.
    Yes, I believe I can actually sell it. Why not, I’ve already done the impossible.

  88. I write because I have to get my stories down on paper. I love my ideas and think that others will too. I’d like to think that I have something new to offer—a fresh voice.
    I want to be published because I want to share my stories with the world, as well as provide social commentary in my works. 🙂
    ~Tyhitia
    http://obfuscationofreality.blogspot.com/

  89. If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?
    Can something exist without being perceived?
    If a book is written and isn’t read, the author isn’t heard. I write because I’m driven to do so, it’s just part of me.
    But also want to be heard. I have a story to tell, and I want to share it with others. I want to make others think, I want to move them.
    That is why I want to be published.

  90. Why not?
    I could say a lot of reasons why I write, but as to publication? I try because I think I’m good enough, and the industry has challenged me to prove it.
    It’s that simple. I don’t get weepy or upset when something I’ve sent out gets rejected, I just look at it, see if it can be improved and submitted elsewhere, or if it’s time to retire it. I’ll always write, which means I’ll always have more to submit in its place.
    Oh, and when I have proven to be good enough, the industry is just waiting to then say, “Yeah, but ya can’t do it twice.”
    And when I prove that one wrong? “But ya can’t do it full-time, as a career.”
    I’m telling you, that industry voice in my head is awfully difficult to please… 😉

  91. Why I write (by a Lurker)
    “Enlighten me. Tell me why you write. But also tell me why you are then taking what you write and seeking publication.”
    I’m usually a lurker, but my own thoughts feel in sync with your post so I’m coming out of my shell. Last night I got to reading One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and sometimes I feel like the Father Buendia, where I’m just chasing impossible, painful fantasies through my writing. Building towns of ice. Trying to make gold in philosopher’s stones. I feel that way now.
    Still, like that character, I keep returning to the same old fantasies, still I write, and try to write my best, for the same reasons why I read so much and watch so many tv shows and movies searching for the best amongst them. I love stories; and great stories, like One Hundred do more than entertain, they make you think, they help you connect, they feed the soul. Writing feeds mine.
    As for the drive for publication? It stems from the need to write for me. Writing alone, with no one to see it but me, is like Father Buendia making gold or building an ice town for only himself. Writing for myself doesn’t fulfill me for long. I want to share my stories, but I also want to make a living at it–feed the body, too, you know 😉 That’s why I seek to be published.
    Jodi
    http://wordfeather.blogspot.com/

  92. Why I write
    I just revisited these after a few days. What struck me is simple: everyone writes because they “can’t not.” Because they have to. Because it’s therapy. Because their heads fill with characters, or they’re proving they can finish something. They seek publication because like a silent tree in a forest, they have no voice or can’t find validation any other way.
    To all of which I say “nuts.”
    I don’t write because I have to. I write partly because I don’t understand life without the act of writing but mostly because I feel it’s my obligation. Like I said: I’m a dealer, which is why I write for you.
    You deserve a better class of writer and story, and I’m here to deliver.

  93. Why I write
    I just revisited these after a few days. What struck me is simple: everyone writes because they “can’t not.” Because they have to. Because it’s therapy. Because their heads fill with characters, or they’re proving they can finish something. They seek publication because like a silent tree in a forest, they have no voice or can’t find validation any other way.
    To all of which I say “nuts.”
    I don’t write because I have to. I write partly because I don’t understand life without the act of writing but mostly because I feel it’s my obligation. Like I said: I’m a dealer, which is why I write for you.
    You deserve a better class of writer and story, and I’m here to deliver.
    (erm. This is me, Will Entrekin. Willentrekin.com)

  94. Why do I write?
    I write historical thrillers because it’s fun. It’s the most challenging yet rewarding work I’ve taken an interest in. For years, I estimated that getting published was a 1 in 5,000 shot. But after reading The Making of a Bestseller, I learned that my chances are 1 in 50,000. This didn’t dissuade me. If anything, it only increased my desire to break out.
    I improve with each novel. And I’m confident that I’m better than 90% of the published authors out there. The other 10% (alive and dead), however, are a great set of novelists, and I’m still learning from them and applying their techniques. What’s so exciting is that I will never stop learning. I’m sure even the best still learn new tricks every month.
    And why do I want to get published? I walked into a Barnes and Noble one day and was browsing the new books section. Two ladies walked by and one said, “I wonder when my guy is coming out with his new book.” That sounded so cool. When a reader is looking for great characters, dialogue, action and suspense, I hope that one day many readers will think of me and say, “I wonder when my guy…”
    Steven Slavick

  95. Ego.
    I started writing because I kept throwing books against the wall and saying (out loud sometimes), “I can write better than that.”
    A sense of accomplishment through belonging to elite group known as “The Published.”
    I wanted to be the 20% who actually finished a novel.
    The 20% of those that had the courage to submit.
    The 2% of those that actually got represented/published.
    See also: Ego
    A sense of immortality.
    It’s a book. It’s got YOUR name on it. It sits in the shelf of every Brick ‘N Mortar (if they survive the economic crisis or Amazon doesn’t buy them all out…). It has an ISBN, a copyright, and it’s archived somewhere electronically.
    Maybe my stories would be studied long after I’m dead.
    “Oh yeah, Jeff — the Asimov of his time…”
    And I zipped that first MS off to your office and received my first Form-R. I knew it was awful. So I zipped it off to a kind Editrixing Meerkat in NYC and paid a handsome fee to have her tell me what I secretly knew: it was awful. And I shopped it at a convention or two and was met with similar criticism by two fine ladies from Tor: it was awful.
    When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
    And then I met the people behind the industry—the authors, the agents and the editors —and I was lucky enough to have a mentor early in my “career” that gave me tough love about the business side of this business.
    And I learned to let go of my ego and love the process and art of storytelling.
    And that’s when I finally realized that my strength isn’t necessarily writing but perhaps editing and author-support (i.e. research and development). And you know, I’m cool with that.
    It’s not to say that you’ll never see a submission from me again — I’ve learned that I need to learn a lot more to take this endeavor seriously. That’s why I’m back in school studying lit. and composition.
    But I’m still around because I love the people and I love the art.

  96. Why Write? Why Publish?
    I make no apologies for plagiarising Terry Pratchett’s view when it comes to “why write”. His version says it all. It’s the most fun anyone can have on their own.
    Why seek publication? Well only the already famous or the delusioned are in it for the money. For the rest of us it’s pure ego. You want your work to be read and/or see your name on that spine.
    The fact that your chances are slim is irrelevant. A one in a million chance of achieving extacy is better than no chance at all. Because it’s not about money the odds don’t matter. The cost in time, effort and money pales into insignificance compared with that chance, that one teensy chance, that one day you might become “An Author”.

  97. I write because I’m full of stories, and when I walk around too much they slosh over and fizzle away into the dirt, or the seat of the car, or wherever, and are gone. I sit down to try to capture them so they won’t suffer such an undeserving death. I want to take care of them once they are outside of me, unprotected and alone, so I try to find homes for them, thinking maybe some nice person will want to take on their care and feeding – and if I can get published, then they have an even better chance of this.
    That said, if I get published, then people who think I should be doing something other than caring for my stories – something productive – will stop pestering me to do the laundry, get a high-paying job, etc. Even if the stories don’t pay for themselves, people seem to think they do, and so I get left alone to try to empty my overfull self more.
    Unfortunately, this doesn’t work too well, because it seems the more I fish them out, the more the stories breed. So I’m still spilling them into the dirt all the time. I do try, though.

  98. I write because I have to. I am driven. Publication allows me to continue doing the thing that makes me happiest in life.

  99. I write because I can’t do anything else.

  100. Transparency
    Thanks so much Jennifer, for your reporting and your
    accountability. We authors appreciate seeing the facts.

  101. I write because there are stories in my head that want out.
    I try to get published because I love writing, and want to get good enough at it to do it for a living.

  102. I never tried to be published. Even at the age of fifteen, i knew writing is like trying to be a singer, actor, or model; talent is everywhere, it’s whos plucked out, and carried through to publication. With those odds, i took the easy way out. Several degrees later, that carried impressive titles; i’d be happy, right; wrong.Dressed for success and traveled the world. I was happy right?
    Walking through the rain in Paris on New Years eve, raising a bottle of expensive champaign to the greating passerbys; had it all, nope.
    Travel, jobs, cars, and clothes = mundane, repetitive, and boring and gone-gone-gone. I don’t want any of this anymore; nothing me anymore, and i’m left with that hole that was their my whole life.
    i have so much regret. I was wrong, i took the easy way out.
    I admire those writers who listen to their inner voice, and write-write-write; go for it. I also admire the agent, Jennifer Jackson, for asking the question. This question tore my heart out of my chest. I masked what i was out of logic; these writers are too smart. Keep writing or you’ll be sorry!

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