Published Vs. Well Published

A short while back, I received an email from a writer at the end of the persistence rope. She'd sold to an ePublisher, but she was hurt that other members of her writing group didn't accord her the same respect and admiration they did for authors published by big NY traditional print publishers. She wanted to know why they didn't.

Touchy Subject

No hate mail please. I'm not trying to insult anyone. I'm just answering that question in an open forum.

Sometimes, writers just get worn down by the process of submission and rejection. They want so desperately to see their names on a book cover that they lose perspective and start rationalizing. All they want is to be published. So they'll take any kind of publication whether it pays them a dime or not. Then they're published, and they want the same ego strokes that a writer like Nora Roberts gets. When they don't get it, well, it sometimes gets ugly.

Dream Bigger

I'm here to say to you, writers, amend your dream. Don't just want to get published because you probably can be by some vanity pub or by some ePub without a track record. What you should desire is to be well-published. Trust me, there is a big difference between the two.


In today's world, just about anyone can claim to be published. I see hoards of people who call themselves published. These range from people who plunked down a chunk of cash to a vanity press to those published by online ePublishers to those published by legitimate small presses to those published by the big boys in New York.

Heck, I know someone who had a letter to the editor published in a newspaper, and she added that she was published in a major print periodical to her resume. She called it creative marketing. You probably don't want to know what I call it.


Ah, to be well-published means you got a decent advance, probably negotiated by an agent, a royalty schedule specified in your contract, a publication date, and the knowledge that when your book hits the stores, you'll be proud to shout: I'm published. You won't have to go around defending your publishing credit and attacking anyone who even looks as if they're thinking "that doesn't count."

Viva La Difference

What's the difference between the two? Money. They pay you, not the other way around. Publishing is a business. You're a business because you write with the expectation of making a buck. In business, you keep score with money.

Decent royalties that keep earning. Respect from your peers. Respect from publishing professionals. You get taken seriously by the pros in the business, and that's far more important than impressing your Aunt Matilda or the bunco club or any others you may think of.

Getting published is nice, but if you're a pro then you should want more than ego gratification. Getting well published is everything in the business of writing. That's what we should all strive for - getting well published.

Hard But Rewarding

Sure, it's hard. Yes, it sometimes takes years before you write something good enough to capture an agent who will be on your team. Even then, it may take more time before you find the editor who loves your writing and wants to offer you a contract.

But hold on. Hang tight. If it were easy, everyone would have publishing credits. It's not easy to get well-published with a quality ePublisher or a traditional print publisher, but it's what you should strive for.

Now, I'm sure some of you have written great books and had them self-published so please don't send me nasty emails or ugly comments that I'll have to wear out the delete button on. Save your creativity for your novel. Don't take the easy way out. Hang tough, baby. The wait is worth it. After all, you'll be writing and writing so the time will pass. You'll be improving because practice makes perfect.

Takeaway Truth

Just the accomplishment of writing a book is something to be proud of. If you want an even bigger pride symbol, then scorn being "published" and go for well-published. The payoff is immense.


  1. I write for 2 e-publishers and one print publisher. I'm not the least bit ashamed of what I've written, although the perception that my books were 'inferior' because they were put out by a publisher whose primary medium is digital. "Tell me when you write a 'real' book," they'd say.

    Then the books came out in the print version. Same e-pbulisher, just a different format.

    I entered them in a number of contests. They placed up there with Karen Rose, Brenda Novak, and Allison Brennan. Readers like them. But they don't fit the narrower mold of the NY print houses, and e-publishers are more willing to gamble on pushing across genre expectations and on debut authors.

    Do I get paid? Yes. I earn royalties on every e-book download, and every print book from that publisher. Do I have a contract? Yes. Have I ever paid the publisher? No. Is the distribution good? No. My books are still hard to find, and I'm not going to discontinue seeking a NY house primarily for that reason. Very few authors get rich writing, regardless of their format. Most keep their day jobs.

    A major editor for one of the BIG romance imprints spoke at RWA and said that they definitely look at e-books as legitimate publishing credits.

    My take: e-publishing with a reputable publisher will help teach a new author the inside workings of the business. Do your homework, and look at all the pros and cons. There are goods and bads no matter where you look.

  2. Thanks, Terry. I totally agree. Like I said, hang in there and wait for the quality ePublisher or print publisher.

    Self-publishing has its place for niche products, but fiction usually isn't one of them.

  3. I've been surfing online more than 3 hours today, yet I
    never found any interesting article like yours. It is pretty worth enough for me.
    In my view, if all website owners and bloggers made
    good content as you did, the net will be much more useful than ever before.

    1. Thank you. This is a very old article. The advice about go with someone reputable still stands, but self-publishing is where it's at for most authors today.

  4. My developer is trying to persuade me to move to .net from PHP.
    I have always disliked the idea because of the expenses.

    But he's tryiong none the less. I've been using Movable-type on several websites for about a year and
    am concerned about switching to another platform. I have heard great things about

    Is there a way I can import all my wordpress posts into
    it? Any kind of help would be greatly appreciated!

    1. I can't answer your question because I haven't used Wordpress in several years. I would suggest you use a search string that contains your question. I'm sure you'll get many hits that can answer your question. Example "how to import wordpress posts into platform"