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Conventional wisdom says it's a fantasy of the naive and unpublished that it will make you happier, improve your life, to get a book published.

I suspect this is untrue and that getting a book published, or (even better) several books, really does significantly and permanently improve a person's life.

Poll #1979831 Does getting published make you happier?

If you've had a book published, did it make you happier?

No. Stephen King was right. It makes you happier for four weeks, tops.
Ha ha ha! YES! OMG, yes! I looooove my book.
I had to think about it, but on balance, yes, I think so.
It is one of the things that makes me proudest of myself.
There's been so much angst about it that I wish it hadn't happened.
My other sources of happiness are much greater.
Not really. You get used to it. It's not that big of a deal.
You are so naive.

Are some kinds of books happier-making than others?

Being the editor of an anthology is just as satisfying as being the (or a) primary author.
Being the editor is harder than writing solo and therefore more satisfying.
Nothing feels as good as having sole authorship, and editing an anthology is almost as good but not the same.
Self-publishing is as satisfying as being published by a house.
Self-publishing feels better because it offers more control.
Self-publishing isn't as validating as being published by a house.

If you've had more than one book published:

Does each one make you happy the same way?
Does it get to be old hat?
I don't even know what other options to suggest. It's all so unimaginable to me.

Ha ha, I think this is probably my least scientific poll ever.  Ugh.  I should get off the computer and do laundry.



( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 25th, 2014 02:58 pm (UTC)
I actually forgot to tell my parents when my second book came out. They knew it was coming but I just... forgot. They had to keep reminding me to get them a copy.

Weird, I know. What can I say?
Aug. 25th, 2014 03:08 pm (UTC)
Aug. 25th, 2014 03:03 pm (UTC)
N.B.: My answers reflect two very (VERY) different genres.
Right, so, I wander in to elaborate a bit.

First, I've got two different kinds of "books" here. The one that has an ISBN number (the scholarly one) and AWS and NLM (which I'm counting as "self-published" for the purposes of the poll, although they were on moderated sites and thus subject to scrutiny - at least until I was validated, which happened, hmmm, I dunno, partway through AWS on one site, a bit later for others).

Some fine distinctions - publication is complicated. I was happy to have published the scholarly book, for lo, tenure. I was happy to have published AWS and NLM, for lo, completed novel-ish-book-like-things that people liked to read.

Mostly, though, what made me "happier" about them was not the actual moment of publication (or in the case of the fiction, "hitting post on the last chapter") - what made me happier was the writing of them and the completion of them.

The sense of "validation" matters in a weird way with a scholarly book because it's pounded into your head that YOU MUST HAVE A BOOK ON YOUR VITA. You have to write the thing to get the Ph.D. (<- validation) You have to publish the thing to get tenure. (<- different but similar kind of validation) You have to have the approval of expert scholars in your field to get the thing published (<- yet a third kind of validation).

Do any of these experiences "validate" who I am as a person? Nah. I'm as validly me as if I'd not published anything.

But the writing of them, the editing of them, and the hope I had for them (which boils down to the same thing: "I hope people like it!" [<- not me; it; it's a "sharing" feeling rather than a "glory" feeling] and "I hope it touches their hearts/minds/souls..." [<- sharing again; a "Can I do that?" thing]) - that changed who I am. Not dramatically - more a depth change than a surface change.

So it's not really - to me - a question of validation but a question of evolution.

As for that question of which is more validating - house publishing v. self-publishing - I'm answering that very narrowly, only within my own experience, and only to the extent that validation was the point. It was a needed ticky mark, career-wise, and the standards of validation were externally set: it had to be published by a house (university press) or it simply didn't count. I'm not sure I'd say the same re: fiction (never published fiction with a house). No experience with that side. Anyway, there's an apples/oranges thing happening in my response, but hey, the question asked about fruit. :)

Edited at 2014-08-25 03:09 pm (UTC)
Aug. 25th, 2014 03:38 pm (UTC)
Question 1:

Having books published does make me happy :-) There are times when I have moments of self-doubt, or feel vulnerable, and I wish I'd never published anything, but those moments pass, and on the whole, I love writing and publishing my scribbles.

Question 2:

I love being an independent writer. I wouldn't publish my fiction without an editor, though! Even if I were ever published by a house, I doubt I'd stop self-publishing; I find it very satisfying.

Question 3:

Each book makes me happy in a different way :-) It's always fresh and exciting for different reasons.
Aug. 25th, 2014 09:54 pm (UTC)
I just counted the other day, and by now I've translated and edited nearly 30 books.

And as you know, I've published several fanfiction novels as well.

My own writing gives me more pleasure than translating or editing the work of other writers. It's still satisfying work, though, and it's nice to see my name come up on Amazon searches. But it's nothing that I'd frame as the reason for a significant and permanent increase in happiness.

More financial stability just might do the trick, though. :-P

The act of sharing a story in whatever way is an essential part of the process, and I take pride and joy in that. I couldn't imagine just writing for myself, never showing my stories to anyone. I'm a storyteller, I'm writing for an audience, to communicate with my readers. So that's very important.

But the act of writing is what makes me truly happy. The journey is the goal for me. Over the last few years I've realised that I have zero interest in validation in terms of money or the name of a big publisher (especially if that means giving up even a metaphorical inch of my freedom as a writer).

I definitely can imagine that publishing books makes some people happier just like success in any other kind of career. But that's not quite true for me. At least not the way you mean it, I think. Because -- correct me if I'm wrong -- but you're referring more to the traditional aspects, like your name on a cover, ISSN, title on the shelf in a shop, than the act of sharing your stories with others, of connecting with others through your stories.

Aug. 25th, 2014 09:56 pm (UTC)
So far, it's just been stories within anthologies, but they do make me happy. The second one included TWO stories, and I was prouder of them than of the first one (improved writing, more complexity, more work put into them). The new one will be out this fall, and I just got it back from the editor with minimal changes. Re-read it after not having seen it for a few months, and am quite pleased with it. Each new one makes me feel more confident and validated (first one could have just been a fluke, after all).

Getting good, rich feedback from my editors makes me happiest, actually. (Most friends who read say nice things but not in very much depth.) It's nice to have them on my bookshelf (the books, not the friends---I let them sit in actual chairs).

Happier? Not specifically. It's all part of the bigger picture.
Aug. 26th, 2014 04:22 pm (UTC)
Almost all of my published writing has been nonfiction or poetry. Each of my publications - articles, essays in anthologies, poems in journals, books, and my poetry collection -- have made me happy in different ways. When I'm feeling like crap and thinking "I can't do this" all I have to do is look at that shelf with 15 different volumes that contain work I've done or pieces of interviews with me and realize that not only can I do this, I've done it before. As someone dealing with chronic lifelong depression and anxiety issues, having that concrete evidence of my ability to actually do something that feels meaningful to me makes a huge difference in my life.

I couldn't answer the second question because I've never edited an anthology. I don't know what that would feel like aside from, possibly, "frustrating" in having to go through the process as an editor rather than a contributor.

I prefer being published by a house, even a small independent one, to self-publishing, because I just don't want to have to do all the work. I did self-publishing for some very small books back in the day when "paste up" was an operative phrase and involved gluesticks and, while it was satisfying, I never felt quite the same sense of accomplishment as I did in being published by someone else.

I couldn't really answer the third question, either, because the options didn't really carry. They don't all make me happy the same way, but for me it hasn't really got to be "old hat" at this point yet, either. I publish usually a couple of times a year. If we include fanfic, far more often than that, but fanfic is mostly a very short shot of happiness where a book or an article in a journal are longer-term types of happiness and satisfaction. Maybe if I were publishing substantially ever month, I might feel different. It's kind of like asking if having each of your kids made you happy the same way or if it's old hat now.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )


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