Does Getting Published Equal Nirvana?

By Michelle Griep
Attracting the attention of a publisher, receiving a fat advance in the mail, basking in the joy of seeing your novel on a bookstore shelf, these are indeed the sweet little bon bons that puff up a writer’s self-esteem and validates them as a “for real” author.
But should it?
Must one be published to call oneself a legit writer?
I’m here to blow out of the water this sea monster of a myth. A writer writes. Period. Do you write? Then read these words, memorize them, tattoo them on your palm so you can smack yourself in the head every time you doubt . . .
It doesn’t matter what you write. It doesn’t matter if you’re published or not. It doesn’t even matter if the best you can do is scribble cat, rat, and mat in chalk on the sidewalk. If you scrawl down words in any way, shape, or form, then you, little cowboy, are a writer.

Does signing a contract with a traditional publisher mean you can slap on some lipstick and kiss all your anxieties good-bye?

Double nope.
Once you sign on the dotted line with a traditional publisher and think you’ve arrived, it’s welcome to Worry-About-Marketing Land with a day trip to I-Wish-My-Sales-Were-Bigger City. Honestly, the grass isn’t greener on the publishing side. There is always something more to stress over. Contentment isn’t an external event. It’s an internal choice. Choose to live in and enjoy every moment, whether that’s your first years of bumbling pitches and rejected queries, or one-star reviews and dismal sales.
Are traditionally published writers higher up the authorly food chain because they’re better than the lowly self-published mealworms?
A big, fat nopey-nope with a side of no no sauce.
Don’t worry. I’m not going to go into a self-publishing vs. traditional publishing rant here. The only point I want to make is that both types of authors are valid. Yes, there’s a lot of crap (and yes, I said crap) on the self-publishing shelves because some people pump out a book simply for fame and fortune, bypassing the hard work of writing and the expense of hiring an editor. But I’ve also stepped in steaming piles of literary manure excreted by traditional publishers.
Before you go casting stones, realize that authors in both camps have glass houses worth shattering—but they also each have stunning and exquisite works of art. Box up your judgmental attitude and coexist already.
The bottom line is this: getting published by a traditional publisher is a noble goal, one that most writers hope to attain. It’s a worthy ambition, something to strive for, but never, ever—ever—tie-in that goal with self-worth.

Michelle Griep’s
been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and
Crayolas…professionally, however, for the past 10 years. She resides in the
frozen tundra of Minnesota, where she teaches history and writing classes for a
local high school co-op. Her latest release, A HEART DECEIVED, is available by David C. Cook. You can find her at:, or on Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest.