Dear Papa Bear,
I keep thinking that everything I do isn’t good enough, whether it’s creating artwork or music, writing code or stories, or just generally doing anything that requires imagination. I get frustrated, angry, and tend to ragequit when my imagination just abandons ship as soon as i try to use it to do anything creative, usually resulting in either nothing or an unfinished product. This generally leads to me thinking about how I’m not good enough, among other self-criticism.
My question is this: How do I improve my imagination so that I can think that I’m worth more as a person?
Becquerel (aged 14)
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Unless you have aphantasia, a rare condition in which a person literally cannot picture things in their mind, then you have an imagination. But even if it were true that you have no creative imagination, you do not need to have one to be a worthwhile person, nor do you need to do anything artistic to live a fulfilling life. Many people contribute to society in other ways besides the arts. So, even if you don't have any talent in art, music, or literature (and I can't say whether or not this might be the case, having never read or seen anything you have created), it doesn't mean you do not have value.
That said, artists are always their own worst critics. Writers hate their writing, often throwing out their compositions. Artists burn their paintings. Musicians have tantrums and quit composing. It's all because they judge themselves too harshly. Sometimes it helps to hear other voices to give you feedback. I don't mean family or friends because if they say nice things you'll just think, "Well, they're being nice because they are family/friends." I mean joining an art group or writing group. If you're a musician looking for support, you can try some of the musician groups on Facebook listed here, or, if you want to get some fandom support, you might try Fuzznet, a furry music and support collective. If you're an artist, there are a lot of online groups you can join to chat and ask for feedback from other artists (an example would be FurReal at on Facebook), or just build a network of artist friends to chat with and talk about your progress. And same goes for writers groups, too, of course. Just do a little searching online and you will find lots of writing groups, both furry and not.
So, now that I have hopefully dismantled (or at least put a dent in) your notions that you A) have no imagination and B) are only a worthwhile person if you do, here are some tips on improving your creativity:
All of these things have something in common: turning off your inner critic. By allowing ideas to flow unhindered, you break down the damn that is holding back an entire reservoir of creativity.
Hope this helps. Good luck!
First of all I'd like to thank you for being such a positive influence for so many people and the fandom. Many charge a ton of money to do less than half of what you do and whatever your reasons are, I feel you're being honest and sincere in your answers. You've been thanked by many, I know, but the fact that you do what you do, makes me feel grateful that you're here, and having something to be grateful alone makes me feel a little better.
Well, I'll try to get to the point. I was born in a very white trash, poor, religiously fanatic and very abusive family in a 3rd world country. So I guess it goes without saying that I have issues. Several traumas, depression, anxiety, ptsd, add, the list goes on.
I won't get further into that because that is another whole can of anaconda sized worms on it's own so I'll focus on what's bothering me right now.
Recently I've come to the realization that my self-hatred is enormous, way bigger than I thought it was and it probably has a bigger impact on me than any other factor. I've been trying to lessen it's effects with some simple practices and try to understand to what point it affects me.
Now, seemingly unrelated to that I've became very interested or maybe obsessed with My Little Pony FIM as of late. Specifically fanfiction. I was always a fan of the show but my interest in it had died so long ago I even stopped watching the show. I don't know why I started reading the fanfictions exactly, I think I frantically read all fancomics that I found and still wanted to consume more of that universe so I looked at fanfiction.
Here's where it gets weird. I absolutely hate reading. It's one of the things I hate the most in life and even to read a fiction book like Eragon took me a loooot of effort and will. Only book I think I wholeheartedly read without any struggle was The Hitchhiker's guide to the Galaxy, which remains in my concept one the best works of fiction/entertainment of all time.
I digress. I started reading these fanfictions and having an amazing time, the first one I've read captivated me just like Hitchhiker's. I didn't focus on anything specific such as romance or sci-fi. They were just a few surprisingly well written stories in that universe by an author. The second author I found had good stories too but they were very focused on romance, comedy and a specific kind of drama I really spent hours thinking about. By that I mean that many time when I'm reading one of these stories, I stop reading them and begin to "spin off" from it and think on different things the characters in the story could have done and many times I stay hours in that state so much so the story in my head is now another one completely.
I told myself I was going to stop after that one story because It was consuming too much of time. I didn't, I kept getting back and finding more and more fanfictions to read. And usually feel bad all the time but recently I started to feel worst so I thought: "Either I read this fics to escape or they're what causing me to feel worst."
At first I thought it probably wasn't the latter, and I still don't think it is but something strange happened. I found some fics where I related to a character, usually a character who suffers from depression, has a lot of self hatred (not low self-esteem) and all that brings.
I've been to many lowest of lows and suicide is far from an alien thought to me to say the least. (Not only for emotional distress but physical pain as well, I've dealt with some hard stuff.)
But I've never contemplated self in reality of fantasy and I've never glamourized suicide outside of very very common "self sacrifice" fantasies.
So, at one time I read a comic when a character is feeling unworthy/guilty for depression reasons and the character doesn't do anything except think. But I go on one of my "spin offs" and put myself in his place and I start fantasizing about him/me piercing his/my shoulder and making a slice from it to my collar bone. It felt weird because I really, really, really wanted to feel the pain of doing that. I'm not a fan of pain, I'm averted by any sadist or masochistic thing or thought so this was really a first to me.
Then it happened one where I (the character), flew very very high up and just let go. And again, I really wanted to experience that, which is funny since I'm somewhat afraid of heights and it's not on my top 10 ways to suicide. (Don't have a list, just wanted to stress the feeling.)
And this keeps happening, I knew I hated myself but I never knew to what degree until this started to happen. I can't find why my subconscious want's to be punished so hard, why does it feel so guilty. I don't feel like I was or am a burden to anyone, I only sometimes feel a slight hint of guilt over decisions I've made in the past over something small and it goes away pretty fast. Do I consciously feel unworthy of love, affection, attention, existing? Very much, yes. But can that translate to fantasies of self harm when in reality I don't have the slightest wish to do so?
I know the source it's trauma but this is new to me and it feels like it's a big part of the whole picture. Am I not seeing something that's clearly there? If I'm just living "hidden" emotions through these characters, why are these emotions more hidden than the others? Should I stop reading fanfiction or at least avoid the ones with this theming?
These are a lot of questions, I don't expect you to answer all, if any of them. I hope I've at least expressed myself well enough to give you an idea of what I feel because my real question is:
What's your take on this?
Also I'd like to let you know that I'm planning or hurting or putting myself in danger in any way so please don't worry. I've been trying to be introspective with my feelings to see where they come from, the why and how and It's obviously not easy but with every realization I feel a little better, if not I feel like I've gained a key to unlock some other mystery in the future.
But every time I think I cannot be surprised anymore, well... So I don't know what to make of this, all I know is that I can't feel good fantasizing about hurting myself. If anything that is proof of my decaying state of mind and I'm looking for improvement not decay. Sorry for any confusing parts, I hope I've explained it at least well enough to not give you any headaches.
Thank you so much, Papabear. Hope you have an awesome holyday season and new year!
P.s. I still hate to read but I think I love to write. XD
Anonymous (age 27)
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Thank you for your letter. You raise a very interesting topic: the healing power of fiction and literature in general. It sounds as if you have had quite a difficult childhood, so I extend to you my sympathies. Almost without fail, people who suffer from low self-esteem, depression, and anxiety are this way because of external forces. That is, traumas you have experienced or feelings of being negatively judged originate from those whou surround you and do not spontaneously generate from within. The only reason you feel badly about yourself is that you have been the subject of physical, emotional, or psychological abuse or a combination of these.
Many people find comfort by escaping into fantasy worlds, or through other forms of art ranging from film to music to the visual arts. Fiction literature appears to be the remedy you have found for yourself. That is perfectly normal. In fact, there are studies that show that reading novels and stories can ease people's emotional and psychological issues. Indeed, it has also been shown that reading fiction can help us learn to improve social interactions and empathy with others. In the world of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic you have anthropomorphic unicorns, ponies, dragons etc., many of which have cheerful and spunky personalities, making friends and solving various problems and quests by working together. It's a very upbeat and optimistic cartoon, which is why it is so popular. Obviously, MLP represents a world that you find desirable, and reading MLP fan fiction and imagining yourself in that world is part of your self-therapy. You see, lacking a therapist in the real world, you have discovered your own treatment through this television show and its fanfic.
Okay, so why the dreams or fantasies about dying in one way or another in various MLP scenarios you imagine for yourself? Obviously, you start off daydreaming about the MLP world and then your feelings of depression and anxiety intrude upon it. This is similar to when children have a dream that starts off happily but ends up with a monster suddenly appearing and attacking them. The monster could represent things such as fear about a bully at school, a homework assignment or test, or perhaps an upcoming visit to the doctor or tension in the family. So, here you are, in your case, having an escapist fantasy and then the black clouds in the back of your mind intrude upon it.
You also mention you are experiencing fears and guilt about hiding your emotions and feelings. It sounds like you are keeping something out of the letter, such as feeling ashamed of who you are, something you are keeping secret from your family? I can only speculate, but this could obviously be the monster intruding into your daydreams as well in the form of self-destruction. Furthermore, the fantasy of dying in an act of self-sacrifice is a call to get attention that you are a worthwhile person. Let me ask you this: in your daydreams of self-sacrifice, do you go out in a blaze of glory? An explosion or fireball? These are symbolic of trying to send a flare up into the sky to get attention when you feel stranded on a desert island of loneliness. (You can feel lonely in a room full of people, you know.) Complementary to this is the daydream of piercing or cutting yourself. This is a subconscious desire to feel something, to verify that you DO exist because you feel ignored. "Hello? Am I here? No one is acknowledging me! Do I even exist? If I cause myself pain, I will confirm that I do."
The solution to all this is to get your family to acknowledge that you are a worthwhile and valued member of the clan, but if they won't do that, then you need to find a family and friends that do. Family, in my opinion, is not necessarily your blood relatives (see Lilo and Stitch). Family are the people who love and support you for being you. In My Little Pony, the characters are not related but they are still family. For now, these fictional characters have become your surrogate family, but you would do well to find some people in real life who fulfill your needs as well as talking ponies and unicorns do.
In the meantime, you say that you don't like reading but you love writing. Writing is extremely therapeutic, too. I encourage you to write your own stories, working out your feelings as you do so.
Make sense? Write again and let me know.
Hello Papabear, I have a question for you.
So when I grow up, I want to be an artist. I really love making art, it helps me express myself in ways I cannot to otherwise. It also helps me make others happy, which is one of the things I very much love doing.
Now I’m sure you’re aware of the major differences between drawing on paper and drawing digitally. I want to try and transition more into digital art on my computer so I can not worry about eraser marks messing me up and being able to color better and what not. Plus, it’ll help with my future job as an artist.
I also love playing video games. I have a few consoles, namely Nintendo ones like the Switch, and I play some games on my computer too. Usually my parents let me play however long I want as long as I have schoolwork done and don’t have any chores. I also cannot be on electronics after 9:30 PM.
Recently my school has gone to full virtual, meaning me and my little sister are going to be stuck at home. I was hesitant about drawing for a while because I felt like I wasn’t good enough and I would just do some sketches in my sketch book once a month. I’ve gotten the confidence now to start drawing again and I want to go back to digital drawing to improve my skills, which I need my computer for. But my parents said that since me and my sister are going to be home all the time, we are only allowed 4 hours on our computers a day and no time extensions.
This puts a limit on how much I can practice my drawing. I want to be able to draw on the computer, but also do my games too in a single day without feeling like I have to do one or the other because of the time limit. And what confuses me the most is my parents still let me use the Switch and my other consoles as much as I want as long as I have schoolwork done and no chores.
So basically I want to have more time on the computer to draw, but I’m afraid they’ll get mad at me and think I want it just for my games. What do you think I should do?
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I think what your parents are trying to limit is you and your sister doing unproductive things online (or what they see as unproductive) such as playing games or chatting on social media. This is different from your working on your skills as an artist. My advice would be to talk to your parents to better define computer time. For example, doing school work on the computer is not something they would try to limit, I would think. Similarly, if you explain to them that art is something you are serious about and might even make a career of, and that learning to use a computer to create digital art is essential for a career in, say, graphic arts, then they should look to this time as being career-oriented.
So, when you talk to them about your art, don't describe it as being for fun and laughs but, rather, as a serious educational pursuit to develop a marketable skill set. Then, while agreeing to the time limit for games and social time on the computer, tell them you need a separate standard for computer time when it involves your education, whether that is for school or for developing your knowledge and ability to create art digitally. Oh, and it would help a lot if at least some of the art you are creating is not furry related. Work on stuff that could have commercial value, such as creating logos, drawing buildings, or portraits of people. These are all things that can help your furry art, so it's not wasted time by any means.
Hope that helps. Good luck!
Dear Papa Bear,
For years, my FurAffinity account has been posting both normal art and art of extremely fat, but clean, versions of cartoon birds with big bellies and behinds . . . and I'm a Christian, so I put a lot of Biblical references in my art. Here's my question: How come only a few FA artists--like myself--endorse Christianity for fatties, but everyone else posts crude, secular art? I do have some great nonreligious friends, but I still wanna' know.
P.S. I do love furries, but I don't dress up like them because I don't have the money to do so.)
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While there are Christian furries, the majority of furries are not Christians; while there are furries who are into fat furs, they are also in the minority. So, think of a Venn diagram with three circles: one contains Christian furries, one contains fat furries, and a third contains furries only into clean art. When you merge these options together, the ones who are Christian furries into clean, fat fur art are pretty small.
The reason there are not many like you in terms of what you enjoy is because you have a very specific taste that does not relate to a large subgroup.
Hope that answers your question.
As a furry artist, I’m currently taking commissions and I submitted a price list in a furry discord server, how long should I wait until I get a commission offer? Should I also post in other social media’s instead to gather the attention of others? Thanks.
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As an artist looking for commission work, you should post your availability on every furry (and nonfurry) site possible, not just Discord. You should be posting on FurBuy, Inkbunny, FurAffinity, SoFurry, Furry4Life, Furrific, FurrTrax, DeviantArt, Weasyl, VCL, Furry Amino, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Etsy, Tumblr, and anything else you can find.
I, personally, feel that all artists should also maintain a website so that they can direct people to a site where you can display and sell your art to the best effect. Make your art omnipresent so that you get noticed. Some of these sites allow you to sell your art while others just allow you to display it; either way, direct them to your website. Make sure you have samples of your art available for people to check out.
How long should you wait for a commission? Until what, you give up? If you give up, you will never sell your art. So, wait for as long as it takes.
I struggle with self-worth as an artist, and find it difficult to see my art as anything other than garbage when compared to the countless amounts of art that I see out there. I'm not that good of an artist, but I like making comics. In fact, I'm currently working on a comic that I love doing, but every day, despite me working hard on it in my free time, I still feel inadequate and will never feel happy about myself. So I guess my question would be how I should approach my views on myself as an artist in the future.
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Artistic types--whether they are painters, musicians, writers, or whatever--are often very self-critical. This is because the work they do is put out into the public sphere, making it vulnerable to criticism from the outside. Since many of us seek validation from others, criticism can hurt, and then we forget why we created the art in the first place.
Why do you create art? Why do you work on a comic book? Because, as you said yourself, you love to do it.
You should draw and color because you love it, not because you want others to approve of you. This is only important at all if you are aiming to sell your artwork. That's when you do commissions and such, drawing or painting things that other people want to see.
As for the quality of your art, practice makes perfect. The more you draw, the better you will become. Work on your technique, perhaps take art classes (in a classroom or virtually), seek out advice from other artists, but most of all practice, practice, practice. Just like practicing a musical instrument, the more you draw and study technique and theory, the better you will be.
To answer your final query, stop comparing yourself to others and stop seeking validation from others. The only person you really need to please is yourself. You are not put on Earth to get the approval of other people. Oh, and remember, some of the greatest, most brilliant artists ever born were criticized and even ostracized by the public. Public taste does not equal good taste, necessarily. In fact, public taste is often bad, dull, and insipid.
Be an artist because you love it. Draw your comic book because it makes you happy.
What are some reasons why furries commission art of their characters? I just commissioned some art of my fursona for the first time--which is something I've always wanted to do--but it was certainly an investment! I'd love to commission more art in the future, but I want to find out if it's something I can justify.
Here are some of my reasons for wanting to commission art:
Thank you so much!! (:
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Congrats! I think this is a question I have not gotten before, so let's have fun answering it, shall we?
The easiest way to start is to explain why I commission art for Grubbs Grizzly. Of course, first of all, I am not a great artist, so it is better to have quality art by someone else. I, too, enjoy supporting furry artists, especially those who are my friends, such as Dan the Bear. Like you, too, I enjoy seeing how others interpret my fursona. The first time I commissioned a drawing, I was at Further Connection North (now Motor City Furcon) in Michigan. This was one of my first cons and I didn't really know anyone, so I was in the Dealers' Den and saw an artist I liked. She was drawing badges for $5, and I had no badges, so I had her draw it so I would have a personal badge for the con.
I've had other badges drawn for me since then. I use them as avatars for various furry social sites, I use them for this website, and I am using them in my book. I also put one on a custom T-shirt. You can do lots of fun things with fursona art. For instance, if you follow this link you can buy Ask Papabear merchandise.
You can get even more creative than this. For example, you can commission a spot in a Your Character Here (YCH) artwork in which an artist has several fursonas in one artwork and furries buy a spot in that art. In another example, there are skilled people in Second Life who create custom avatars you can adopt for role-playing in SL. OR! If you really get ambitions, find someone who sculpts and they can create a figurine you can use for anything from simple display to playing D&D or some other board games. Heck, these days, with 3-D printers, there are companies that will create these figurines after taking pictures of you in fursuit.
Having art of your fursona is simply a way to help you to get into the fun, imaginative world of furry.
I apologize in advance if this comes across as a bit of a ramble, but I wanted to ask for some advice.
So, long story short, I decided to try my hand at writing furry fan fiction (mostly just a bunch of one-shots) to the point that I created several concepts for stories - some general, some a bit more mature in nature. This is mostly because I want to get my ideas out of my head so that they don't start bothering me. But I'm beginning to get cold feet about it for two reasons.
First, the fact that the group of friends that I normally socialize with (which contains at least three furries) have openly decried the subject of "yiffin,", leading me to think that they don't have a high opinion of people who do any sort of adult content reagarding the furry community, along with other factors, makes me feel ashamed of even considering the idea in the first place. That said, I do know of one friend that engages in the more mature aspects of the community, but this is something that I discovered by accident.
The second reason is that I have already submitted literary work online, and I am very worried that people will recognize my writing style, and therefore find out who I am (as I intend to submit these works under a completely separate account). I've seen a lot of people submit mature content in addition to more general stuff, but unfortunately, I don't have that kind of confidence. There's also the fact that I already have a very slow upload rate as it is due to factors that are essentially outside of my control, so people might either recognize my inconsistent upload rate or try to pry into my personal life.
So my question is this; do you think that I should submit my ideas under a different account, or should I just put my works on hold and/or scrap them if necessary? I'm just not sure if there would be any point to me trying to maintain what is essentially an internet double life.
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There is porn and there is mature content when it comes to stories. When you say you sometimes write stories of a "mature nature," are you talking about flat-out yiff or are you talking about stories that have some adult situations? Porn, to my mind, is fiction or art that is just meant to get the audience off; mature fiction has a story, characters, themes etc. that just happen to occasionally (and with reason) have some lovemaking in them. If you are writing porn, I can certainly understand writing such things under a pen name. Writers do that all the time. And unless your style is extremely distinctive, I doubt anyone will know it's you. If you are embarrassed about it, however, why write it? If you are not embarrassed about it, then you should not care if others disapprove, no?
Leading a double life, as you say, is nearly always a futile endeavor. Eventually, one way or another, the secret will out. If you are not prepared for that, then you should not do it. If you absolutely need to write some of these stories down to get them out of your head, then write them down, but you do not need to publish them for the effect to be as cathartic, you understand.
Most of all, write because you love to write, and tell tales that are honest and true. So long as you do that, you should be able to find satisfaction with yourself. What others think does not matter in the slightest.
A Fellow Writer,
I was wondering, knowing that you’re a professional editor, if you could offer any advice to a young rodent who wishes to get a book published?
I know you’ve had a few furs write to you about getting their written works out there, but I think my case is slightly different because of three main fronts:
I live literally a short walk away from a book printers, so what I was considering was once I get it done, get it checked over and am happy with it, I send it over to them and only get a small number of copies printed (for now, 25 is the number I’m thinking of). I still need to check with them if the dimensions I’ve set my pages at are okay, but if they do need to change, I don’t think they’d be too far off.
However, some people who I either work with or am friends with have been telling me to not “sell myself short” and see if I can get a publisher onboard. I’m glad they think positively about me and what I’ve written –– more than I ever can –– although I really doubt if I’d actually be able to get it published by anyone other than myself. It’s a very niche topic, I don’t have a very strong network, I have a hard enough time trying to get commissions for my art anyhow, and… you know, I’m not exactly the next Rob Janoff [a famous corporate logo designer] or Saul Bass [a graphic designer and Oscar-winning filmmaker].
I’ve been writing this book for two main reasons. One reason that it’s a topic I legitimately enjoy. I have a fascination with language, how it functions, how it’s evolved and how it continues to evolve (despite my futile attempts at learning other languages like Welsh, French and BSL), for which studying typography ties in nicely with. The other reason I’ve been writing this is because I figure it’d be good to add to a portfolio and would help me with my career.
What do you think, Papa Bear? Would it be worth me sending what I’ve written off to a few publishers to see if they’d make it a reality? Or, is my initial plan of getting it printed myself and selling what I can (albeit I have a feeling most would be donated as gifts anyhow) what I should stick with?
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As you know, my main line of work is nonfiction publishing, so you’ve come to the right bear. Let me explain the process a little bit. There are two types of acquisitions: solicited and unsolicited. Solicited manuscripts happen when a publisher has a topic about which they want to publish a book and then they actively seek out an appropriate author to tackle it; unsolicited is when publishers receive manuscripts either from an agent or from a non-agented author. Manuscripts from agents—especially any agent with whom the publisher has dealt with in the past—would naturally take priority. Unsolicited manuscript gets tossed into a slush pile for review. Often, this review is very cursory, and it is pretty rare for unsolicited, unagented nonfiction books to see the light of day.
What can you do to increase your odds? First thing: check out the competition. This is easily done with the Internet these days. On the subject of typography, you’re going to be competing with people like Ellen Lupton, who is a curator of design at the Smithsonian. She has written a couple of books on the subject that are highly respected. Check them out. How would your book compare to hers? Would it offer something new and different? Does it address a different audience? Is it more accessible to readers? If not, then you’re in for an uphill battle. However, just because one publisher like Princeton has released a book doesn’t mean another publisher might not want to have their own book on the topic. My publisher, Visible Ink, often releases books on subjects that others have addressed because there is a large enough audience for books on history, ethnic studies, and the paranormal. On the other hand, publishers like mine will always choose a prestigious name author over someone no one knows (like you, sadly).
Next, find a copy of The Literary Marketplace online or at your local library. The LMP is the source for locating publishers and agents who are accepting manuscripts, and it tells you what subjects and genres they publish so you don’t waste your time sending your book to someone who is not interested in the topic.
Next, write a cover letter. Here’s a nice little column about that. It is a bonus to you that the book is finished. Publishers are more interested in taking a gander at a completed manuscript than something that is a mere proposal, especially, again, from untested authors.
Send out as many query letters and manuscripts that you can. I sent out over a hundred before my novel was accepted. It takes a lot of legwork. Even Margaret Mitchell and Stephen King got lots of rejections at first, so keep trying and don’t be discouraged.
As for, finally, my opinion as to whether you should self-publish or try to get an established publisher: there are good and bad points. The bad news is that when you publish through someone else, you are not going to get very much out of it (people like J. K. Rowling are the exception, not the rule). The publisher may give you a small advance on royalties and then a pittance percentage if the book sells past a certain number of copies. You’re not going to earn much. Also, you will be releasing control to the publisher, who will likely take your rights, take charge of the design of the book (ironically, in your case), and take charge of the marketing. The good news about this is that they handle everything, so it is less work for you. On the other hand, if you self-publish, you have to put up any costs yourself, but you will have much more control over the book and keep more of the profits. This is why I will be handling my next book by myself. Since I can do everything except print-and-bind and distribution, I can keep most of the profits. This is not the case with many authors who need help with typesetting and so on. You, I take it, can handle these things, so it could be well worth your while to self-publish, especially if you have a good marketing plan.
I am a writer and have been writing for a long time.
I am working on a story about shapeshifters and it contains black humor in it. I really want to publish it and get an agent, but I am not sure.
The story which I am writing is written in playwright form and I'm not sure if this is something other people will want to read since it is not written in traditional novel form. The story also contains artwork by me and art for books can be expensive.
I understand that Harry Potter got rejected 12 times and S.E. Hinton published the Outsiders at the age of 17, but I still feel discouraged because of my age and because of how the story is written. I am also questioning whether I can afford to get it published.
How can I do this?
Thank you very much.
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It is true that some authors publish their first book very young (another example would be Christopher Paolini, who was 15 when he published the fantasy novel Eragon, which was turned into a movie, and he has continued to publish since then). On the other end of the spectrum, you have people like Laura Ingalls Wilder, who published Little House in the Big Woods when she was 65 (followed by her better-known Little House on the Prairie); Bram Stoker was 50 when he published Dracula; Anna Sewell published Black Beauty when she was 57 (and died the next year).
Age doesn't matter, so get that out of your head right now. What matters? Talent. Whether you are 15 or 101, if you have talent and write a wonderful book, you will find an audience.
As for the format of the book (play vs. typical prose style), that could work for you or not. J. K. Rowling did a collaboration with two other authors to create Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which is written as a play. Some authors such as Ernest Hemingway and Elmore Leonard wrote novels in a style similar to plays in that they are short on descriptive passages and heavy on dialogue (heck, Leonard's books are all dialogue), and they work. It doesn't matter the style you choose so long as it is done well.
How do you get published? The same way a pianist finds the way to Carnegie Hall: practice, practice, practice. If you are sincere about getting published, you can't quit, even if you are faced with repeated rejections. And do not take rejection personally. Famous authors from Margaret Mitchell (Gone with the Wind) to Stephen King (Carrie) faced repeated failures before getting their feet in the door.
A column such as "Ask Papabear" is not the place to get full lessons on how to succeed as a writer (by the way, I am the author of 13 published books, though I am far from rich and famous LOL), but I can give you a quick summary of what to do:
Publisher vs. Self-Publishing. These days, more and more people are self-publishing--many with considerable success. The negative is that you have to pay all the costs yourself; the positive is that you get to keep any and all profits (publishers take the lion's share of any profits). A self-published author can hold down costs considerably by simply opting for ebook formats only, but the trick here is getting people to find and buy your book. That goes into the whole area of marketing yourself, which is time-consuming in the extreme, but it can be done. That is simply an option that is up to you and how much time and effort you're willing to spend on the project.
Hope this helps. Good luck!
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