Published writers are also unpublished writers.
Unless they’re instant successes like J. K. Rowling or perpetual bestsellers like Rick Riordan—and, most likely, even if they are—the majority of published writers have a closet or a hard drive full of unpublished novels.
Take me. I have one published novel, the YA science fiction adventure Survival Colony 9, with the sequel, Scavenger of Souls, due out in August. (There’s a cover reveal and giveaway running right now on YA Books Central, if you’d like to check it out.) I also have the following unpublished novels to my name:
The Daedalus Dreams
The Devouring Land
Jim Thorpe’s Ghost
A Journal of the SAME Year
Rise of the Losers
To Alter the Past
A Very Small Child Called Eugene
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Now, admittedly, my ratio of unpublished to published novels (8:1 per the above list) isn’t quite as dire as all that. Some of these are old projects, abandoned years or even decades ago. Others are works in progress that might still see the light of day. And one is currently sitting on my editor’s desk, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed.
But no matter how you look at it, the fact remains: I’ve written far more novels (and partial novels) than I’ve published.
I wish I could say that all of the unpublished novels I’ve written have been practice for the two I’ve published. But that wouldn’t be telling the truth, because some of the unpublished novels were written after I’d published Survival Colony 9. In other words, they were rejected by my agent or editor.
So it’s also possible to say that in some cases, my unpublished novels are nothing more than that: novels I poured six months of my life and a considerable portion of my soul into with no tangible benefit whatsoever.
I try not to see it that way, though. Rather, I remind myself that for many, perhaps most, perhaps all writers, not being published is simply part of the business of being published. The two go together, and it’s hard to have the one without having the other.
That might not come as a comfort to writers who are yet to be published, but it’s a reality one has to accept if one wants to write.
Having a published book isn’t absolutely different from having an unpublished book. Having a book of any kind is absolutely different from not having a book at all.
Joshua David Bellin has been writing novels since the age of eight (though the first few were admittedly very short). His debut, the YA science fiction adventure SURVIVAL COLONY 9, was published in 2014, with the sequel, SCAVENGER OF SOULS, due out on August 23, 2016. Josh likes to read, watch monster movies, and take Nature hikes with his family in search of frogs and salamanders.