The Truth About Publishing


Picture this. You are sitting at your laptop with the means to share something with the world, but you don’t know where to start or who will even listen. These were the exact feelings I had to work through when trying to figure out what I was going to write for my first book. In elementary school, I was so immersed in language that I could hardly put a book down, so becoming an author felt like my place in the world. I knew I had a knack for writing poetry, but I found myself continuously facing roadblock after roadblock.

Although I knew I could put together a variety of poems, something was missing. Authenticity. My main problem was that I had all of these distinctive experiences but I was only writing what I thought the world wanted to hear. At the time I was afraid to actually tell my truth because it would mean allowing people to see my work and judge and critique it. This fear was not something easily defeated because I needed to learn some key elements of publishing. These elements are not always easy to spot, so I’ll give you my take on this. 

Find Your Voice: This isn’t simply about finding out what you want to say, but focusing on why you want to say it. What does it mean to you? Where did the passion start? Where has it led you up until this point? Where do you want it to take you by the end of it?  Your words are what move the story forward and what gives the reader something to engage with. If you can’t interact internally with the work, then that feeling could transfer that way on paper. I recall my high school teacher saying, “ When I read your work, I don’t want to hear someone else’s voice. I want to hear yours.” 

Grant Yourself Grace: When creating a body of work, it can be just as stressful as it can be peaceful. Rather than focusing on every little detail that you need to fix at that moment, concentrate on the small elements because that really paints a picture. This is not to say that you shouldn’t acknowledge mistakes, but that mistakes can be fixed. Let your art flow knowing that changes can be made. You have to trust your process because by the end you will create something that represents you. If you don’t even have a process, that’s okay as well! Formatting and structure can come later. Just let the words flow as they were meant to. 

Trust Your Work (but also be open to help): This has to be one of the most important elements of publishing, because it goes beyond just submitting work and having it critiqued. If you’re attempting to publish something, there will be conversations about alterations, and this is something that you will have to accept. Trusting your work is something that is not easy, but once you trust your work while keeping in mind that accepting advice is not always a step back, there will be a major improvement. The important note here is that you want your work to be improved while ensuring your voice is still prevalent in the text. 

Speak Your Truth Unapologetically: This is my final and most important factor in the publication process because, undoubtedly, if you have spoken your truth then there is nothing that has been left out or forgotten. With so many people coming up with creative stories and ways to express themselves through language, there can be pressure to create something completely different. When you shift your focus from trying to create the best thing ever heard and concentrate on what you have to say, you might just find that the words you have written are exactly that creative piece you’ve been looking for. Your truth may come in the form of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, or any other type of storytelling, but as long as your truth is spoken, then everything will fall into place. 

All of these tips helped me to publish a book that I am proud of. Furthermore, these tips helped relieve my fear of not knowing what to say or do. Publishing is achievable through consistency and believing in yourself and your work. I hope that after reading this you are no longer staring at your computer confused and terrified, but ready to reveal your truth in the book world.

PRR Writer, Destiny Gilchrist