“Selling Out” – A Writer’s Fear

This is just a little something I wrote a few years back, largely just to serve as an outlet for my anxieties regarding what lay ahead during the publishing stage of things. It is horrendously uneducated, but I hope some may identify with the feelings of the piece regardless.

You finally finished it, after two years of blood, sweat, and tears. You format it to the publisher’s specifications and send it out.


You try again with a second publisher. Rejected again. You tell yourself not to get discouraged and keep trying.

There is no answer from the most recent attempt for one; then two. You send a query letter after the third month of no response.

Then, a reply! The editor is still reading, “and it looks good.”

After several more weeks, a phone call. They like what they see, but what to discuss some things first. There are changes they would like for you to make.

“It’s too long,” they begin. “The plot needs some ‘minor’ tweaking. The ending is ambiguous. Two characters could be merged together.”

What they suggest sounds reasonable. Desperate to be published, you agree to the changes.

After making them, you send them the updated manuscript. Guess what? “It needs more conflict, and the main character is lacking something.”

You agree yet again…

The publisher is finally satisfied. They will format your manuscript for the printer. Excited, you anxiously await the arrival of the advanced copy of your book.

AT last, it arrives. You open the packaging.

It seems thinner than it should have been, and the cover art is not quite what you had pictured. But your name is on it, so you brush it off.

You begin to skim through it, fascinated by your words on the page. However, some passages are unfamiliar. You don’t remember writing that conversation. You read further and confirm your suspicions.

They are the words of someone else.

You then read the entire book. The publisher made changes you did not discuss or agree to. It is no longer solely your work. But you’re published and that is all that matters, right?


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