The Value of It All

Posted: April 26, 2012 by ajbrown in Writing
Tags: , , ,

I was going to work on a few things today, but some other things have gotten in the way of that. I have some writing that needs to get done. I also have the last two chapters of the first draft of a friend’s novel that I am itching to edit and get back to her (I love what she has done, but that’s for a later discussion). However, I want to focus on something else in this particular post.

Recently, a friend of mine sent me a link to a website called The Minimalists. Now, before you check out the website, which I hope you do, understand that some of the thoughts on there aren’t for everyone. Some of them aren’t even for me. However, there are some great posts, including the one I am going to write on today.

If you were to click that link above, you would end up looking at the very post that I want to talk about today—or at least, something in that post that I want to talk about. To set it up for you, this is part of an interview of Joshua Fields Millburn, a writer and one of the gentlemen who created the website, The Minimalists. Mr. Millburn responds to a question as follows, and I quote:

I am a writing evangelist. I self-publish because it’s currently the best option for me and for my readers. I wouldn’t sign with a publisher just for the sake of being “a published author,” which by itself is an empty endeavor that reeks of pretense.

That said, I’m not allergic to money either. There is nothing wrong with signing with a publisher, and I’d be happy to ink a book deal if it made good financial sense. A publisher can be a great partner for an author, they can help authors in several ways. I’m not, however, going to lose any sleep if the publishers don’t come knocking my door down with bags of cash. As long as I continue to add value, my audience will support my work with or without a publisher.

A few things: First, I love that term, writing evangelist. What a way to look at it. If you view that the same as a Christian evangelist, then Mr. Millburn is working really hard to reach the readers out there, and isn’t that what we’re supposed to do? Reach the readers?

Second, which I think is something I have never heard a writer say before: I wouldn’t sign with a publisher just for the sake of being “a published author,” which by itself is an empty endeavor that reeks of pretense.

Holy cow. Brilliant.

Hey, you writers out there, did you get that?

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard writers say ‘I want to be a published writer.’ Yes, I want to be one as well, but is it the most important thing in the world? I don’t believe so. After thinking about this for a while today, it’s not all about how much money you can make. Oh no, it’s not. And to be able to say ‘I’m a published writer’ might stroke the ego a bit (and in some cases, far too much), but I’m not so certain it validates anything.

The last part of the quote is the most important:

As long as I continue to add value, my audience will support my work with or without a publisher.

There’s one of the keys to writing. The Value of it. I’ve often looked at my writing as something I enjoy doing, but something I also want readers to enjoy. I’ve also thought if someone spends money on one of my stories, books or whatever, then I have to make sure and give them the best value I can for their hard earned money. If the readers feel like they have received a good story or stories for their money, then what are the chances they will come back for more?

If we add value to our words, the readers will follow, regardless of whether we are published by a big publishing house or if we self publish our work.

As writers, we should make sure there is value to our work—and not the value as we see it. How we view our stories may greatly differ from what the reader thinks (notice I didn’t say what the editor thinks—it is all about the reader, not the editor—sorry my editor friends). We can’t be so enamored with our literary brilliance that we forget it’s not about us. No, it never is. It’s about the story and if we remember to keep it about the story, then the reader will always find value in our work. And they will come back for more.

In the end, that’s all that really matters. Book deals are nice. Making money is nice. I would love both of those, but above all else, I want my readers to enjoy the story, for them to find a value or a worth in the words I write.

Adding value to your writing? It’s a novel concept and one that I have been striving for.

As always, thank you for reading, because without you, all of us writers would be writing to a nonexistent audience.

Until we meet again, my friends…

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