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You’ll Never Be Published…

May 11, 2010

Much to my Indian father’s dismay, I was never a model student.  I did okay in school but wasn’t the typical brilliant Indian kid who scored a 1600 on the SAT and had Harvard, Yale, and Stanford knocking on their door.  My dad was usually disappointed with my report cards and would say things like “Your last name begins with the letter “A” so you should only be bringing “A’s”  home.”

Remind me never to use that logic with Maya because 1. It makes no sense, and 2. I don’t want Maya bringing “D’s” home. 

I think my embarrassing B/B+ average was mainly due to the fact that I have trouble focusing for too long.  I can barely get through an hour of Tyra Banks and her interminable lessons on how to “smize,” nevermind listening to a 2 1/2 hour lecture on a widgets place in the macroeconomic environment.  So when I graduated from college I swore up and down that I would never return to school.  But this past weekend I found myself squeezing into a tiny little chair in a stuffy UCLA classroom (UCLA needs to take some lessons from USC on how to design a classroom) so I could attend an all day class entitled, “Writing in the Internet Age.” 

Being back at school was an eye-opening experience.  Can you believe there are people who have no idea what Google is?  No idea!  And Twitter was basically a foreign language for 60% of the class.  I’m not an expert in social media but seriously?  Are people living under a rock?

Anyway, this is what we learned after a marathon 8 hour session:

1. There is a 0.0001% chance that any of us will ever have a book published.  Unless of course you self-publish and peddle your book out of the trunk of your car, which, according to one presenter, is a very valid way of promoting yourself!?

2. There is no money to be made in writing a book.  Translation – you can write to your heart’s content but unless you churn out a crappy book a month like Danielle Steel or have a reputation like Jodi Picoult, you can forget about quitting your day job. 

3. If you are a glutton for punishment and still want to pursue a career in writing it is imperative that you maintain a blog.  With a blog you can get your name out there, develop a writing style, and you can use your blog as a platform to develop a presence. (Finally, something that made sense!)

As I listened to presentation after presentation, I realized I was wasting a Saturday afternoon to listen to “experts” explain that I was going nowhere.  Fast.  So you can imagine my surprise when the very last speaker ended up being the only one who really made any sense.

Have you ever heard of Nadine Jolie?  Long story short, she began blogging anonymously back in 2005 about the secrets of the magazine and beauty industry.  But when the New York Post blew her cover Nadine found herself fired for disclosing secrets about the Ladies’ Home Journal where she worked.  Fast forward 5 years later and Nadine has managed to build herself an empire of sorts including 2 published books, TV appearances, and speaking engagements. 

I was fascinated by Nadine who was by far the most engaging and “real” presenter of the day.  Her story gave us all a little bit of hope – if it can happen to her than why not us too?  She was honest about the challenges of the blogging and publishing world, but she wasn’t full of negativity.   Nadine was even nice to a very rude audience member who told her that her site was basically worthless since it didn’t support her financially.  She explained that while her blog doesn’t offer that much financial support it is still what got her to where she is today, and who can put a price on that?

Do you have any long-term blog goals?  Are you doing it in hopes to make money eventually, or do you consider blogging more of a hobby?

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41 Comments leave one →
  1. May 11, 2010 7:32 pm

    I’ve gotten similar “advice” and “guidance” about the acting biz. It was something I was VERY into in elem school and I thought I was a Broadway Baby. Haha! I’m a bit shy now actually.

    But I’ve gotten countless negative comments about how all odds are against me for several things.

    I’m glad that the particular speaker you mentioned did put a positive spin on the difficulty of breaking into writing.

    I say, good for you! Keep focused on your dreams 😀

    Long term goals? Run a marathon, stay on track, eat wholesome meals, maybe score a freebie or two. Hah! That is about as far as I’ve thought.

    PS How could people NOT know what Google is?!?!?! Wowza.

  2. May 11, 2010 7:51 pm

    So, totally random. I actually know someone who knows Nadine. But I don’t know anything about her, so there you go.
    While I think that blogs do help some people in terms of writing, I also see many blogs as being about marketing more than about the actual craft of writing. I don’t, by the way, take my blog seriously as a tool to craft my writing skills. Also, I see time and again how certain bloggers repeat the same pat phrase, and then I find that phrase in a dozen different places (like the so-called “ambiguous” statement when people say “I may or I may not have eaten a bowl of ice cream.” You either did or you didn’t! Can you imagine Proust writing “I may have or I may not have eaten a madeline”?!).
    I certainly find many blogs entertaining, illuminating, sincere, real and touching and can relate to plenty of them and to the people who write them. And many people HAVE used their blogs as a platform to something different, so good for them. I really do try to not judge, even though it’s hard, oh lordy, it’s hard.

    • May 12, 2010 7:05 am

      Your Proustian reference is the highlight of my day. And it’s only 9:05a.m.

  3. May 11, 2010 7:58 pm

    Hey Love! I think it is great that you are sticking with your dreams and just going for it.

    PS. the shoes in the last post are gorgeous 😉 I am shoe shopping this weekend (fingers crossed) we get all of our good brands at Holt Renfrew up here!

    XXOO

  4. traynharder23 permalink
    May 11, 2010 8:36 pm

    go for it. seriously. you have a gift. I DON”T. hahha have you SERIOUSLY read my blog? lol. it’s a stream of consciousness….i’m crazy. end of story.

    anyways, i’m not sure what my long term blog goals are. i guess once i achieve where i want to be.. healed, enjoying life to the fullest, sharing love stories with you all….i guess i’ll either end it or figure out where to go from there.

    blogging to me is a hobby. i wouldn’t dare dream of trying to make money off of it.

  5. nadia permalink
    May 11, 2010 8:43 pm

    meena, you rock for taking that class on a sat afternoon!…and surely have built a huge fan base on your blog! you will so be that .0000001% who publishes and we’ll all be your promoters…how’s that for marketing 😉
    XOXOXOXO

  6. May 11, 2010 8:43 pm

    im so bad with attention. its the span of a pea i swear. lol. i think my main goal of blogging is to connect with the world. theres so much i want to learn from people! i feel it will help shape me into who i want to be:)

  7. May 11, 2010 9:55 pm

    as with everything i seem to gravitate towards in life, blogging is something i do that pays nothing and takes up so much time but i love it. so it’s worth it. would be wonderful to make a living from it, but i seem to be doing okay anyways….

  8. May 11, 2010 10:37 pm

    Ameena, you truly are an amazing writer. I love your wit and your style. I think if you stick with it, you could really go far.
    I realized that there is no way that everyone can be extremely successful, and in order to get there, you need to offer something unique and in demand. And I really think you do that.
    As for me, I am currently blogging as a way to hopefully help people (as cliche as that sounds) and as a cathartic release because I feel like I am overwhelmed by illness, and I need an outlet to talk about it. I also love the community and love talking to people who understand, getting new food ideas and healthy living ideas and sharing what I learn about this, as well as what I have learned about life in general.
    Writing has always been a dream of mine, but right now it is not my main goal because I just don’t feel like its a possibility at this point. But who knows? Hopefully one day..but I guess as you say, my chances are one in a million.
    Keep blogging, love. You are wonderful.

  9. May 12, 2010 2:46 am

    You have such a gift for writing. And your passion is so obvious. I hope you reach for the stars my friend! 🙂

    I most definitely just blog as a hobby, I don’t have any long term goals as far as blogging goes. I still can’t believe anyone actually reads what I write!! 😉

  10. May 12, 2010 3:55 am

    I’ve always wanted to make a career our of writing, but I was told the same kinds of things and it really scared me. I love to write, but I don’t want to be struggling to get by with some day job that I hate just so that I can write.

    Right now, I mainly blog as a hobby; to practice my writing and photography. I’d love for my blog to get me somewhere, but I’m just going with the flow and seeing where it takes me.

  11. May 12, 2010 3:59 am

    i think of my blog as just for fun and don’t plan on really doing anything with it. but it’s awesome to see others in the bloggy world (like you) who are following their dreams! best of luck there girl! 🙂

  12. May 12, 2010 4:16 am

    oh God…this is both extremely disheartening and slightly uplifting…now I fear my dreams of writing are truly just that…and even worst, my dreams of them paying off of my loans are not going to happen…:(
    thank you for sharing this girl…

    i only hope that it’s true then the saying that you’ll get told a million times you’ll make nothing of yourself and then you turn around and become someone brillant and defy them…that’s what happened to some of the greats like einstein…;)…but i am no einstein…

    i always thought that self-publishing would end up wasting more money in the end though versus otherwise…??

  13. May 12, 2010 4:22 am

    You know you’re a college grad when you go to class on Saturday just because you want to learn. 🙂

    I think they should have been more specific. I can see how it’s almost impossible to get a book deal from a blog by waiting for an editor to stumble upon your blog and then snatch you up. That’s so rare. But I think your chances of getting published increase a lot if you pursue them by querying them. Who’s to say the only way to get a book deal is to wait for someone to find you? If you have a good idea, why not pursue it then pitch it?

    I’m not sure what kind of book you’re talking about, but let’s pretend it’s nonfiction. So why not come up with an idea while building your platform here then write up a proposal? I bet your luck will increase when you put yourself (and proposal) out there. You’re hilarious and such a great writer that I wouldn’t wait for someone to find you.

  14. May 12, 2010 5:08 am

    I was a B/B+ gal, too. 😉

    I was blogging for fun, but I just haven’t made the time for it lately. I have such a hard time w/ blogging guilt- like, if I have time to be blogging, then I feel like I should be catching up w/ a friend or family member. Guilt is never a good thing!

  15. May 12, 2010 5:18 am

    Very interesting. Writing is my passion and what I hope to make a career doing–I’ve actually applied and interviewed for several full-time blogging jobs–but it is HARD to make a personal blog pay. I see it as good exposure and good practice, but not necessarily a career changer (the personal blog, that is).

  16. May 12, 2010 5:33 am

    Gosh Ameena…that is my ambition. To write and blog full-time 🙂
    I think my blog is not good for that though..its slightly too embarrasing and personal…so I feel like I need to start over or something…i never know!

  17. May 12, 2010 6:44 am

    This is a great post! I don’t think my blog will ever be a “money-maker,” but I could see it (very, very ideally) being a means to an end, the end being a book. I think any sort of following you can show a publisher that you have is a good thing, even if only 100 people regularly read your blog– that’s better than nothing at all!

    That being said, I see the work and hours that go into the few “money-making” blogs, and I don’t think I would want that even if I could have it!

    V. interesting!

  18. May 12, 2010 6:50 am

    This is really interesting! I didn’t know that we had such a small chance of being published…after seeing the 2-3 bloggers out there who are working on books right now, it seemed like it would be more!
    When I was younger I wanted to be a writer “when I grew up.” I enjoy writing short stories in my spare time, but I don’t have any hopes for doing anything more than that.
    And as much as I’d like to make money off a blog, it’s just a hobby and I’m too busy to make it anything more than that!
    It would be nice though…
    You have such a unique writing style though, and it’s funny and engaging- If you wanted to write a book…a novella! I would buy it!

  19. May 12, 2010 6:53 am

    Yeah, chances are bad that you’ll get published. Chances are worse if you don’t try.

  20. May 12, 2010 7:15 am

    Ameena, I remember hearing Margaret Atwood (pretty much our best Canadian writing export) talking about how poor she was until she wrote her third book and I was – to avoid hyperbole for once – disheartened. But you know what, I think what we need to ask ourselves is WHY. What does a book have to offer that a blog does not? I know, a spot on a store bookshelf and a real, tangible, empirical chunk of evidence that we lived and we wrote. I another one of those who grew up knowing that a book was in my future, so let’s work this out:
    what could you possibly lack, that you can’t make in to that tiny decimal bracket? Probably not too much. And what ever you might be lacking, I bet you could fill that gap by learning from a mentor. Secondly, whatever you have to say in a book, you can say on your blog and you know what the best part is? Accessibility.
    The idea of binding up the best ideas and most important pieces of work and then selling them to those who can afford to buy books leaves those who cannot afford in the dark. Although, where possible, a library card is a nice alternative.
    All this to say, you can make it work and if you want to make it happen, I know you will.

  21. May 12, 2010 7:29 am

    I think that there is a VERY real chance that you could write your own book and get published! I mean, look at Caitlin from Healthy Tipping Point and Jenna from Eat, Live, Run and Tina from Carrots ‘N Cake! They are all published writers (or in the process) and blogging started it all! Dreams DO come true!

  22. May 12, 2010 7:50 am

    you know, i wrote a book, about my eating disorder, had it ready for a publisher my mom knows, everything was set. i never gave it to her.

    i think you more than are capable of getting a book published. if you didnt, how would ANYONE ever get their books published anyways!??! your a wonderful blogger so i imagine a book would be amazing!!

  23. May 12, 2010 8:15 am

    I’d love to hear more about your class! Publishing is really hard. I’m actually just about to blog about this — how funny. And, yes, we only hear the amazing success stories of people who make millions. For most writers, though, they have day jobs. They deal with tons of rejection, etc. BUT, you are a great writer, and I think there are tons of avenues for your style. Magazine articles, for one. Nonfiction books (as we’ve talked about :)). Don’t get down about it! Your blog is so engaging. I love it.
    I didn’t really have any ambitions with my blog when I started, and I still don’t. It serves as more of a journal for me now. My attention span has gotten so short, so I often only have 15 minutes a day to dedicate to writing. Blogging is kind of a fun way to satisfy the writing urge on a regular basis.

  24. May 12, 2010 8:23 am

    Ameena, you definitely have the potential to write and publish your own book. You’ve got this great writing style that captivates the reader and keeps them wanting more. When I get to the end of your posts I think, “That’s it? No more? Noooo…” I love getting those email notifications that let me know you’ve posted something new cause they’re like little joyful surprises to me. I may not always have the time to read them right away but when I do it’s such a treat to me. Thanks for bringing this pleasure of reading your blog into my life. Don’t give up your dream Ameena cause you are that 0.0001%!

    My blog is definitely a hobby for me. Allows me to talk about 2 things I love to talk about most, my kiddies and food without boring everyone around me.

  25. fitandfortysomething permalink
    May 12, 2010 8:41 am

    blogging is a fun hobby for me…..work and education is what will make me money! i will be starting my phD program in the fall…..work is work and the education will only help me get ahead 🙂

  26. whydeprive permalink
    May 12, 2010 9:00 am

    I dont have any real goals with my blog. I do it for fun. Ive always wanted to write but seeing as how I have no talent in the area its not really a realistic goal for me.

  27. May 12, 2010 10:53 am

    My blog is a supplement to the BOOK I’m writing. They pretty much just described my life. I make money, I work from home, and I have an agent in Beverly Hills helping me get my book ready for publishers. She wouldn’t do that if it was true we have no chance of selling the book.

    You wasted your day, but if you followed their advice, you’d be wasting your life following your dreams. Don’t listen to them. Chalk it up to a wasted day and get on with your dreams. I’m living proof that the experts don’t really know. All it takes it belief and hard work.

  28. May 12, 2010 1:25 pm

    I always tell people to keep doing what they love to do. Don’t let anyone else hinder them from what they truly are capable of. There’s always a way to achieve those goals. If they say it’s impossible…don’t listen.

    For me, I find blogging to be half hobby and half getting my work out there for people to enjoy. It’s another way I like to express myself.

  29. May 12, 2010 2:08 pm

    oh my gosh what a class. I hope it didn’t discourage you too much! FOLLOW YOUR HEART!

    I have never had much in the way of clarity for my long term dreams. they come and go and it seems that LIFE just keeps floating me down rivers other than the ones I thought I wanted to be on. So I just make peace with that part of my life, and spend my free time(haha) doing things that I love, and seeing where it takes me. I just simply can’t afford to chase a dream when there are 3 people at home who need me so much. And really, that’s where my heart truly is.

    some days I feel that I am never going to “amount” to anything but that I had a job and house hold chores to do. Some days that really makes me sad, and angry at my past. But I see the faces I am nuturing and have hope that I can help make THERE lives special.

    the rest will come. I love my blog and blogging. it’s a great release, to share, and learn.

    I hope so much that you don’t let the negativity get in your way! I ADORE your writing style…and your humor!

    xo

  30. May 12, 2010 2:57 pm

    People who have never heard of Google or Twitter? SERIOUSLY? wow.
    I have major trouble focusing too and I think that’s the reason why I’m no straight A (or close) student either- a course needs to be both fascinating in content AND have an engaging teacher for me to stay tuned (and most of the time it’s hard to find that combination) in addition to my constant mental distractions/other ongoing facts. So annoying. And my parents insist that there is no way I have any sort of ADD.
    But wow that publishing rate is disheartening, especially since I really love writing. I think of my blog more as a hobby but I’m considering doing some refurbishing on it this summer and upping the notch a bit.

  31. oc2seattle permalink
    May 12, 2010 3:32 pm

    Wow! What a cheery group 😉 So glad Nadine was there to have an optimistic viewpoint.

  32. May 12, 2010 4:19 pm

    I cannot believe you paid to hear those jerks talk. Really, things may look grim, but you have to do what makes you happy and you’re right. If it happened for someone else, why not you?

  33. May 12, 2010 6:22 pm

    At 24 when I decided to go to graduate school, I thought I am wiser and more mature than I was in college, I’ll handle it well.Little did I know that as I aged, my brain as shrinking and my attention span well I just cannot focus!Thank goodness my classes are over..

  34. May 12, 2010 8:35 pm

    And thankfully, your name does not start with an “F” ….or maybe if it did, your parents will be happy with your Bs.

    I’m paying (or USC is paying) a shitload of money to become a journalist, who basically earns…nothing. Maybe enough to pay for rent. Why? Because I think it’s worth it. I want to be heard. I want to make an impact on people’s life. Not just fatten up my own life, but other people’s lives, too.

    My blog…is a hobby. First and foremost, I truly enjoy each moment. I love hitting “publish” to post, and reading the responses from my readers. Nothing gives me more joy. It takes a lot of time and effort, but it’s definitely worth it, more than money can buy.

    USC rocks. UCLA sucks. That’s all.

  35. May 12, 2010 9:09 pm

    Keep your head up girl! I think you have a lot of ambition, and potential for a career in ‘the biz’.

    As for me, I really enjoy blogging. I started working in social media last year for dietitians, and though, why the heck am I promoting them and not me?! I agree, a blog provides a platform.. not to mention a community of friendships. It may not pay the bills, but its rewarding all the same. 🙂

  36. May 12, 2010 10:46 pm

    Wow the workshop must be someting of a wake-up call. I guess that’s when passion and determination and hard work are needed to pursue a dream. Good to have a passion no matter what. I stopped having a long term goal except to be able to travel, and enjoy good health and life without hardship. My needs are simply simple! Great post Ameena.

  37. May 13, 2010 2:48 am

    “Your last name begins with the letter ”A” so you should only be bringing “A’s home.” Hahaha! Oh, man. I know I shouldn’t laugh at that, but it’s just so funny! I remember I didn’t have quite that much pressure to get good grades growing up, but my Asian mother wanted her daughters to be one of those multi-talented children who could get A’s, become concert pianists/violinists, and learn Chinese on the weekends because we couldn’t bear to be out of school. Hehehe, oh, the memories.

    ANYway, thanks for sharing what you learned in your class! Too bad that it was mostly a waste, but I’m glad that the last speaker was interesting (and so nice! I would have bawled out that meanie.) I hope that you’ll write more, Ameena. I always look forward to your posts because they’re so funny, but have so much in them at the same time. How do you do that? Blogging is definitely a really fun hobby for me, albeit not a consistent one.

  38. May 13, 2010 5:17 am

    HA, is that statistic for real?! But, having seen it from the inside, publishing is a t-o-u-g-h business.

  39. May 13, 2010 2:33 pm

    I just blog for fun, but am interested that so many people blog because they want to write for a living. I wonder why it is so hard. Maybe because so many people want to do it?

  40. May 13, 2010 3:00 pm

    Very interesting.

    I blog because I want to write. I have to write. I make money off it to support myself, yes, but I’d be doing it even if I wasn’t.

    I never want to write a book because I know they are a ton of work without much reward. I think that people always have that dream, but it’s one I let go of a long time ago.

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