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[1]At this year’s end, with temperatures near twenty and snow fluttering to the ground, I stand before you naked.

Don’t blush.  Don’t turn your head. Just look directly at these words. They wear no cover, no jacket.  No pages.  Just like the words of my novel, Veronica’s Nap.

In September, I launched Veronica’s Nap…on a blog [2].  Having had agency contracts for two previous novels that didn’t lead to publishing deals, I realized early in the submissions process this third time around that I just couldn’t stomach the roller-coaster ride anymore.  It was time to move ahead from a place of strength, on my own.  A true believer in social media, I opted for a blog as my publishing tool.

Because the rise of blogging has made us all boldly – almost shamelessly – immodest about sharing all sorts of writing online, it didn’t occur to me at the time that I’d feel so exposed.  That besides getting lashed directly by the bitter wind of author friends turning their backs in silence and family members raising eyebrows, I’d relive adolescent-caliber insecurity due to my lack of “the right” accessories: an editor’s approving insignia, a publisher’s logo radiating prestige.

Yet at the same time (now you can blush), it feels good to be naked!  It’s exhilarating, filled with discoveries and delicious first times.  Though some friends have indeed disappeared, many more have emerged from the woodwork.  Strangers have stepped forward to share fascinating stories. So have other writers [3] taking similar initiatives [4].  I’ve been surprised and touched by invitations to give readings, to speak at book club meetings, synagogues and  churches and to lead seminars. The joy of forging these heartfelt connections when I least expected it runs far deeper, I suspect, than the thrill that might have come from receiving standard accolades or praise.

Most importantly, it’s liberating.  In shedding layers and accessories, I’ve realized how superfluous they are. While I once dreamed of the day when an agent or editor would hold my hand as I revised and publicized, I’ve now mastered new skills and learned to make strategic decisions alone.  And while I used to imagine flashing “my agent’s” name like a four-carat ring, I’ve discovered that inner strength has a much brighter and enduring glow.

Jane Friedman [5] recently wrote [6]right here on WU:

While I don’t think you’re killing your chances of traditional publication when posting your work online (no matter what your reasoning), there’s not much point in doing so unless you have a strategy or goal in mind, and a way to measure your success.

With staggering masses of writers pouring their hearts and lives into work that’s so rarely given due recognition or pay, and with the publishing industry’s model serving so few of us well, I think it’s time we gave some serious thought to what success really means.

My two cents: it comes from within.

What layers are you wearing as writers, and why?  How can you shed them?

About Sharon Bially [7]

Sharon Bially (@SharonBially [8]) is the founder and president of BookSavvy PR [9], a public relations firm devoted to authors and books. Author of the novel Veronica’s Nap [10], she’s a member of the Director's Circle at Grub Street, Inc., the nation’s largest independent writing center, and writes occasionally for the Grub Street Daily.