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Book Publishing: A Journey, Not A Destination

M.D. Johnson is a poet, playwright, author, and blogger. She has a BA in English and a Masters of Management in Business.

I published my first ever book in 9-27-2005 via Author House. It was a book of poetry, art, and plays, -about 300 pages. Fast forward to today, February of 2021, I just published my first anthologies, simultaneously. I tell all this to say, as the title would suggest, that writing and publishing is not an end goal you derive at all at once, it's a journey, and progress can be as slow as the thickest molasses syrup.

I wanted to share some of the takeaways I've learned along the way to those who are considering taking the journey or for those already in the mix.

1. Never lose sight of the end goal, but remain flexible and open minded enough to know that the end goal may change or evolve. It's perfectly natural to have a certain end goal in mind, that you may get 100 contributors for your book, that you may even complete your book by a certain date, but rest assured, whether the result is better or worse, -it will never be what you imagined, and that is okay. Somethings come out exactly as they were supposed to be. Is anything really ever a coincidence when you look at things in retrospect? I ask this question because some things are predictable, others aren't, and books more often fall on the side of unpredictability.

2. Unpredictability is a beautiful thing. It's what makes the whole course and process of writing beautiful. You don't know what your book will become. It may not be as you imagined, it may be better or slightly or even way off course from your former desire, but in all honesty -who publishes a book they are not pleased with? It is what it is, and it is no less a masterful work you may even title a masterpiece. Does it convey your message or purpose for writing it and publishing it? Then your job is done. Mission complete.

3. Writer's block is a M.F. Not finding dedicated contributors is a M.F. But it's a necessary and inevitable evil that comes with the territory of writing a book. There's a book I was working on, and it was off to a great start, but the file became corrupted and I lost some of the juiciest parts of the story. It was hard to begin again and to tell you the truth, I still haven't. I had to take it as God or the universe telling me "Not good enough, try again." Even though I felt it was great writing, could I do better? Was the course of the story not conveyed well or should I have taken another route? All these mishaps make us question the process and even ourselves. What am I doing wrong, could it be better? Without this cross examination, which we all should have, -how do we progress? Usually obstacles in the road make us try harder, venture further, and make the trip more meaningful. By the time you arrive at your destination and look back you can reflect on those obstacles you overcame, take pride in what you overcame, and be more proactive and ready next trip; -things become easier when you learn something along the way you can apply to future endeavors. No obstacles, no growth.

4. Growth from obstacles is what makes the journey worthwhile. The seamstress who has calloused her finger so much, with the use of the needle to sew, is resilient and may even sew quicker with no pain. So the writer, who can tread beyond writer's block, or having to rewrite the story, or find new ways to garner contributors for an anthology becomes more equipped to deal with setbacks, and with a positive, can-do rationale. There will be mountains to climb on your journey, -but the view will be impeccable when you reach the top.

5. Don't give up. How did I find the inspiration to keep going with my books? Sometimes it's the message, sometimes it's all the work already invested, -why waste that? Sometimes it's the contributors that inspired me to make it happen, because when someone else believes in what you are doing, you have to give your 100% to that. Always finish what you start. It may not be the Taj Mahal, but creating something from nothing is something to be proud of, -something to be admired.

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In essence, these are my takeaways and advice. You can check out my latest works on Amazon, in celebration of black history month:

© 2021 MD Johnson

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