So, you’re a writer.

Yeah, maybe you’re also a bank teller or a schoolteacher or a Starbucks barista (don’t knock it till you’ve tried it). But when you think about who you really are, you think… I’m a writer.

You slip away from the TV room in the evenings to get a few pages in. You get up early on Saturday morning to work a little before the kids get up. You carry a notebook with you at all times so you can jot down ideas, overheard conversations, interesting news items. Yeah, you’re a writer.

I know who you are, and I know why you write. I don’t have to ask you that one. I get it. But my question for you today is, why do you want to be published?

Not that it matters to me, really. But it should matter to you. I hope you know why you want to be published. If you don’t… if it’s just something you’ve always dreamed of… I encourage you to explore a little deeper. Ask yourself how much of your dream is about the writing, and how much is about being published. Your answer might be very personal. You don’t have to share it. Well… yeah, you do. Put it in the comments.

I want you to explore whether you have a powerful enough motivation to get you where you want to go. Whether your reason for wanting to be published is compelling enough to take you all the way.

If you’re not sure about your reason for wanting to be published… think about it and get back to me.

Photo by adrian on Unsplash

Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Gardner Literary. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!


  1. Chad Kearbey on June 13, 2018 at 6:15 AM

    I feel that writing is calling for me. I believe the stories that God has placed on my heart are for me to share with others, to help deepen their faith. The reason I want to be published is to share a message of hope, Love, and humor with a wider audience.

  2. Neurotic Workaholic on May 31, 2018 at 8:27 PM

    Reading a book often makes me feel less lonely because sometimes a writer will say or describe something that I can relate to, like how Jhumpa Lahiri described loneliness in one of her stories as only using the top pieces of silverware. It makes me feel connected to the writer somehow, and I think that’s one reason I want to be published: to make that connection with other people and write something that they can relate to.

    P.S. I had to put down an old e-mail address I no longer use because every time I put down my current e-mail address my comment will somehow link to my actual e-mail account.

  3. Teresa C. on May 31, 2018 at 7:29 AM

    I’ve written stories since I was in sixth grade, and I’m old. What I don’t know is how to get published without doing it myself or how to be a fast writer. I also don’t know how to curse in my stories when I don’t do it in my own life! LOL The lesson in that statement is to be yourself.

    WHAT I DO KNOW is that the main reason I write is that I must write. I must get the characters and their shenanigans out of my head. They want their stories told. I also know that when fragile things in my life break, my writing is steady, something that I can count on.


  4. Carrie Jo on May 31, 2018 at 4:44 AM

    I think of myself–my core identity–as a child of God, a reader, a writer, a wife, and a mother.

    Escaping into a book during hard times in my life was a coping mechanism.that saved me from ever desiring to try unhealthy, destructive ways of escaping reality when reality was difficult.

    I want to be published because my dream is to write a book that can do that for someone else. Give her an escape and a fictional world that helps the real one become just a little easier that day.

  5. liz rios on February 28, 2008 at 12:33 PM

    >Hey there Rachelle!
    I was reading this and had to comment…
    I also had read that verse “Publish His glorious deeds among the nations. Tell everyone about the amazing things He does.” 1 Chronicles 16:24 (NLT) but that was way after I’d been writing.

    Since I was 11 years old I fell in love with the books and the published word. Although I never dreamed a girl from the projects raised by a single parent Latina mom could aspire for such a thing as writing her own book!

    But in a nutshell I write because the written published words of others have changed my life and helped me to heal the broken, messed up areas of my life. Published works helped me be ok with the “me” in the making, going through the “process” and this journey we call life. Thus, if I can do the same for others just because I have been able to share the AMAZING things God has done in my life and give them the seed that restores hope in their life, I would consider it an honor.

  6. Jennifer, Snapshot on February 7, 2008 at 5:48 PM

    >I write because I have something to say. I’m naturally a bit opinionated, so writing is also a way to share my experiences and point of view with others.

    Blogging has provided a venue for that, as well as the pleasure that having others enjoy what I’ve written gives. But “real” publishing provides further validation as well as $.

    Being a lifelong book lover, having a book published would also gain me entrance into a lovely club!

  7. Annie on February 6, 2008 at 9:39 PM

    >Hi Rachelle, I’m enjoying your very informative blog. You’ve got one of my books on partial and I thank you for taking time to review it.

    I write because I have to. Nothing takes me away, so totally captivates every cell of my being like creating a world using only words.

    I’ve always been a writer, but could never write fiction until the past couple of years. I went through some extreme stress in my family and cried out to God for relief. And I began to write, create, live through characters that I came to know and love as they revealed themselves to me on my computer screen.

    I want to become published to validate all the time I spend writing! I’m not a REAL writer until someone else agrees that these scenes and characters are worthy of being shared.

    I’ll always write, because it’s God’s gift to me. I will keep working at it to become published as my gift back to Him.

    Lea Ann McCombs

  8. Tiffany Stuart on February 5, 2008 at 7:49 AM

    >I never wanted to be a writer. However since childhood I couldn’t throw away a card or letter from someone. I loved words. Especially personal ones. I loved to journal.

    Then seven years ago God started giving me devotional ideas. I wrote them and e-mailed them to family and friends. As the ideas and feedback kept coming, I decided to attend a writers conference to see what professional writing was all about. I cried numerous times that weekend as God confirmed the direction of my life.

    I have to admit I’ve wanted to get a “real job” even just a few months ago. It’s not an easy business as you know. It’s hard. And rejections still stink. But I know it’s where I am suppose to be.

    I feel God’s pleasure when I write. If it leads to publication, great. If not, that’s okay. I trust God knows best. I’m called to live out his calling on my life.

    My main drive to write is to help and encourage others who struggle like I do. I want to be someone they feel comfortable with, their friend. I want to point them to the only hope I’ve found, Christ.

  9. Ann V.@HolyExperience on February 2, 2008 at 10:55 PM

    >I have quietly mulled your question and return to whisper an answer (seeing as you said we must share it 😉 )…

    I must write. But you knew that. It’s the way I think, figure out how to live, the way I breathe. It’s Ps.45:1 “My heart is stirring with a noble song; let me recite what I have fashioned for the king…”

    The song that spills out is for the King. If someone overhears the song, and asks if they too may learn the words, join the refrain, then yes, publish the song that has stirred hearts. For me, the point is the song stirring, and the King who listens.

    I wonder: isn’t His ear powerful enough motivation to compel one all the way…? All the way to where we want to go: His feet.

    My appreciation for nudging us to probe deeper. Insightful and revealing…

  10. Crimson on February 2, 2008 at 10:15 AM

    >I wish to be published because I want to be an evangelist, and this book/project I am working on is how God wishes to use me at this point in my life. My book is aimed primarily at an unsaved audiance…an action-adventure fantasy submersed in character developement while answering the really deep questions (retorts)often posed by athiests, pagans, and your “I’m going to heaven because I’m not a murderer” average Joe. So many people think the Bible is boring and/or just a collection of stories — I was one of them. Then God showed me that its ONE story, start to finish, and I was so stunned, I felt the world needed to know this. If they understood that, they would understand God, his love, and no longer think of the God of the Old Testament as a violent, angry, woman-hating dictator.

  11. Melanie on February 1, 2008 at 2:27 AM

    >I’m with Lisa B. At first, I wasn’t sure I wanted to be published. I was writing for myself, pouring out what God put in me, digging for answers I needed to find. I thought it was more a healing exercise and something to bring me closer to God. And it did.

    But as I wrote and as I talked to other people about God and faith, I realized there are people with the same questions, people with similar hurts, people who have been told if your faith is strong enough, if you just pray hard enough, God will give you want you want. Um, no. God will give you what He wants for you, and He will give you the grace to accept that.

    That is the message I want to share. It may be the only message I have in me. I don’t know. Maybe He’ll give them one at a time.

    I’ve seen my name in print in newspapers and magazines so much it doesn’t matter anymore. I’ve been writing and editing professionally from the time I graduated college — and before. So I know I can always make a living using words.

    But this is something different. This is something more. This isn’t telling someone else’s story. This is telling the story God put on my heart.

    I want to share.

  12. Rachel Starr Thomson on January 31, 2008 at 3:24 PM

    >I walk into our local Chapters (Canada’s version of B&N, complete with Starbucks) and breathe in the smell of books and coffee. I see the classics on the shelves and recall the way this story and that touched me, scared me, made me cry, made me think–on those nights when I was awake way too late and those Saturday mornings when I could sneak off and read.

    I visit “my” shelves–the fantasy, YA, and children’s shelves–and grow very disturbed. Because there’s a lot of darkness in the world, and it’s pouring itself out between the covers of those books.

    So why do I want to be published? Two reasons. One, because I want to pour some light into literary genres that mean something to me. I’d like their readers to see God in my writing, whether they’re aware of it or not.

    Two, because I’ve spent untold hours writing, and my freelance writer/editor brain tells me I need some financial justification for my habit :). Even if it’s only a little.

  13. Lisa B @ simply His on January 31, 2008 at 1:30 PM

    >When I read your question, the answer that came to mind is I’m not sure I want to be published. To put myself out there for all the rejections I know writers go through, I just don’t know that I want to go through it.

    But, God has called me to write — that much I believe. I’m leaving it up to Him whether or not He wants others to read what I write 🙂 Meanwhile I’m learning all I can about the business and how to write better. I want to do a good job. I’m just not at the point where I’m stressing being published.

  14. Katy McKenna on January 31, 2008 at 12:41 PM

    >If I were a chef–or even if I just put together a nice meal for my husband–I’d be disappointed if somehow the meal never got consumed. It’s one thing to present it on the plate artistically and another to take photos of it from different angles and lights. But to have the creation tasted by a hungry soul with the capacity to dissect the flavors and ingredients and appreciate their balance and synergy is the best possible outcome.

    I hope, by publishing, that my words touch hearts in a way that words languishing in a desk drawer could never do.

    Katy McKenna http://www.fallible.com

  15. C.J. Darlington on January 31, 2008 at 9:36 AM

    >Okay, I’m typing this before reading anyone else’s responses. I want to be published so I can share my stories with more people. And bring hope. Woven through my novels is a theme I believe is important to share—no one is ever too far gone for God.

    I guess that’s it. I’m willing to wait as long as it takes to get there, trusting God will lead and guide me where I need to be when I need to be there.

  16. Anonymous on January 30, 2008 at 10:06 PM

    >Why I want to be published?

    I want to be published because I have a message to reveal. The message is about Change. God gave me the word “Change” years ago (appr 10). Along the years I have heard many platforms/messages in reference to change. Some so close to what God put in my heart it was scary and it made me wonder. However, as I matured in God and changed myself and of course waited, he revealed to me how I would utilize the word he gave me. I was in awe when I realized that as I annotated my memoirs year after year it was all in his plan. I never connected the two at the time because it was his plan and not mine. I have a message to reveal and all the Glory goes to our Father God.

    Thank you Rachelle.


  17. Melissa Marsh on January 30, 2008 at 12:52 PM

    >I’ve been writing since the 6th grade. I still have the manuscript to prove it. *grin*

    It’s always been my goal to be published, but it wasn’t until the last few years that I truly realized WHY I want to be published.

    Simply put, God gave me the gift of writing. And I believe that he wants me to share that gift with the world. I not only want to entertain people with my stories, but I want them to experience them. I want them to look at life differently, even if it’s one little tiny part of life that they’ve never thought of before. I want them to open their eyes to new and grand possibilities. I want them to read my book and after they’re done, set it aside, and ruminate on what they just read. Not only do I want it to be a “Wow, that was a great book!” thought, but I want it to be a “Wow, this really touched me.”

  18. Anne L.B. on January 30, 2008 at 12:23 PM

    >”I will declare Your name to my brethren, in the midst of the assembly I will praise You.” (Psalm 22:22)

    Everything in creation has been given a unique gift with which to glorify God before others. The gift is both given and empowered by God. For writers, we can’t not write!

    The reason to be published is to magnify God. When we write, God is privately praised. When we’re published, His name is magnified before others.

  19. Matthew C Jones on January 30, 2008 at 12:05 PM


    I have to agree with Gwen’s post. Being a musician, I’ve known the joy of creating music in my woodshed where no one else can or ever will hear what I’m doing. I know the beauty of finally nailing the difficult technique or reaching that spiritual plain in the music where you’re outside of yourself that can only be described as ‘creation.’ I’m constantly awed when I play and I FEEL the presence of God in what I’m doing. It makes me think He must feel that way all the time with the creativity that is wrapped up in His very nature.

    For me, it’s become the same with writing. I love (and loathe) the hours I’ve spent learning the craft in my ‘woodshed,’ and it’s exhilarating to finally get down on paper that elusive idea that you’ve been pursuing for hours or even days and then, POW! there it is. In that moment, I feel everything at once: thrilled, exhausted, hopeful, scared. It’s like a part of me comes out on the page which is exhilarating. But then, a part of me is out there on the page and someone else is going to see it which is both exciting and scary.

    But also, as Gwen stated, when music or writing or art is shown to others and you see their reactions and your hear their responses and find out what they read in what you wrote or played or painted…it’s beyond my description. I’ve cried before just from watching people’s response to music that I’ve had a part in. I’ve felt the same when people have read my words and come back to me repeating to me exactly what I was THINKING when I wrote a particular passage.

    I love it. Sorry for the length of this, but this is why I want to be published. Anything beautiful that God gives us a part in creating only reflects His glory, so it’s all FOR Him. But, He’s such a gracious Papa, He allows us to enjoy the fruits.

    Thanks for your eyes and time.

    Grace to you,
    Matt Jones

  20. Ashley Weis on January 30, 2008 at 12:02 PM

    >I just want to glorify God with the gifts He has given me.

  21. Pam Halter on January 30, 2008 at 11:29 AM

    >I have to agree with everyone in that part of me loves good stories and wants to share that with other lovers of books.

    The other part of me really likes it when people ask me what I do and I say I write children’s books. The look on their faces when they find out I have published two books strokes my ego like nothing else.

    It’s a fine line we walk.

    But I also like the idea that my words will go places I can’t and teach kids about Jesus. Or give them time, even for a little while, to escape the stress of life.

    The Scripture I use on my website and letterhead is Psalm 102:18 “Let this be written for a future generation, that a people not yet created may praise the Lord.”

    When it all comes down to it, I want to hear “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

    But I also want to hear, “We really loved your book, Mrs. Halter!”

    Lord, give me balance!

  22. Nicole on January 30, 2008 at 11:25 AM

    >I will continue to write only because of the call of God to do so. I cannot NOT do it. Saying no to the Lord never works, and it’s in me to write–has always been.

    Publication is a funny thing, not ha ha funny. The root of the business is based on a craft that when exercised puts forth such enormous variety, but yet acceptance of that variety is often subject to opinions, trends, preferences.

    The sole and soul desire to be published for me is to share the stories God has designed for me to construct to move readers closer to Him.

  23. LurkerMonkey on January 30, 2008 at 11:12 AM

    >Boy, why do I want to get published? Is it good enough just to say I’m hardwired that way? I was the kid who read my stories out loud to the class in third grade, who entered writing competitions in high school, had a column in my college newspaper, and today supports my family as a professional freelance writer. Writing is all I’ve ever done — it’s by far the most satisfying thing I do. As for why I share it, in some cases it’s informational, in others it’s because I want validation, most of the time (honestly) it’s to pay the bills, and finally it’s sometimes because I have a story to tell. But why fiction? There’s a good question …

    I think fiction because I can’t remember a time when I didn’t devour books, when I wasn’t aware of how authors work, when I didn’t appreciate the awesome power that fiction has to transport, to elevate, to illuminate. I know I’m biased, but I think the novel is one of the crowning achievements of human art. It is among the most personal, and for a guy like me–who can be distant and have a hard time letting people in–fiction is the avenue through which the quiet part of me can speak to the world. I’ve always dreamt that one day I might “get it right,” just once. That has been my goal … to say the thing I wanted to say, in language and voice that other people could understand and relate to, to produce something … beautiful.

  24. Rachelle on January 30, 2008 at 10:15 AM

    >To all who are leaving comments… I am awed and amazed and humbled by your beautiful and honest answers. Thank you. It’s so valuable for me to see into the hearts of writers. I think it helps me as a person, and it will definitely help me to be a better representive of authors. Thank you for your truth!

  25. Cathy West on January 30, 2008 at 9:42 AM

    >I just want to get on Oprah.
    Okay, seriously. All these deep thought provoking questions – if you get tired of agenting, I’m sure you can become a talk show host. The Dr.Rachelle Show.

    Well, why do I want to be published? This runs a little deep for me. I had to really think about it, and I’m not convinced I want to be completely honest, but since you said we don’t have a choice…
    It’s a bit of a self-worth issue. I’ve struggled my whole life with not feeling good enough. I lack self-confidence. I loved being a stay at home mom and I wouldn’t trade those years for anything…but, as often happens, I, meaning me, the person God intended me to be when He created me, got lost somewhere in the shuffle.

    The past six years of my life have been a journey toward discovering who I really am, and what I’m here for. I’ve come to believe, through affirmations of Scripture, prayer and encouragement from godly men and women, that God wants me to be a writer.
    I can write a million books and never get published. And that would be okay because I’d still be being obedient and using my gift. It might be a little sad though.
    Getting published is actually scary for me. I would be stepping out of the box in a big way. Not that I seriously believe I’ll end up on Oprah, but I will have to leave the house once in a while. :0)
    I think that if I get published, I will feel a huge sense of accomplishment. I’ll know I’ve used my talent wisely, and it’s worth something. I will feel a real sense of being able to contribute to the Christian writing community. But as in all things, God’s will be done.
    And that my friend, is probably way more than you ever wanted to know about me.
    I need to go find a shrink now…

  26. Jim on January 30, 2008 at 7:37 AM

    >I’m a new writer, born out of significant events in my life. I believe the Lord may be birthing a new purpose in my life that includes writing. At this early stage, my motivation is to reach as many people as possible with the message God has given me–less about any financial benefits. It appears to me that royalty publishing still has the most promise for the widest distribution, but as I’m learning more, I realize other alternatives may achieve similar results. I’ll keep following the Lord’s leading on this new journey.

  27. Gwen on January 30, 2008 at 3:25 AM

    >I’m a musician as well as a writer. I know the joy of singing and playing into a silent room: creating for the sake of creation. But when the art reaches the ears, and hopefully the hearts, of others–that’s where the real magic happens. Interpretation of the work by another adds texture, depth and beauty to the art. Now it’s no longer two-sided, creator and creation; it’s multi-dimensional. Now it has a life of its own. That’s why I want to share my work.

    I find so many parallels between music and writing/literature. Finally after all these years, I understand not just cerebrally, but wholly, that music is a language all it’s own. It makes perfect sense to me that I am drawn to both.

    Rachelle, thanks for allowing me to wax a bit poetic this early morning. The wind would like to blow our house down here, and it woke me up. So what am I doing? Writing, of course. I shall not sing and play the the house down at 3 AM. But my words are quiet.

    God bless you today.

  28. Catherine L. Osornio on January 30, 2008 at 1:44 AM

    >I want to be published to be obedient to the Scripture God keeps giving me: “Publish His glorious deeds among the nations. Tell everyone about the amazing things He does.” 1 Chronicles 16:24 (NLT).

    Six years ago I didn’t think about being a writer. God called me to it and showed me this had been His plan all along. I just hadn’t been listening. He’s been blessing many of my efforts ever since.

  29. Katie Hart - Freelance Writer on January 30, 2008 at 1:12 AM

    >To be honest, far more of the dream is about writing than about being published. Writing is how I communicate, how I sort through the tangled mess in my mind. I’ll write as long as my fingers can hold a pen.

    Reasons why I want to be published, though, are:

    – I want to share with others the fictional worlds I create.
    – I want to work at least part-time from home, and in the future if I’m a wife and mother, I want a job where I can stay home with my kids.
    – I want a job that stimulates me creatively – and words are the raw material with which I’m most skilled (you don’t want to see my butchered attempts at drawing).
    – I want to do most of my work alone, set most of my own hours, and be able to work into the night when my brain is at its best (see what time I’m posting this?).
    – I want to hold my book in my hands and see it on the shelves of the local Christian bookstore.
    – I want to be a peer of the authors I look up to and promote.