Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Is Your Book Ready for Publication?

If you self-publish your book, you might sell 1 book and you might sell 1,000 books.
If you sign with an agent and sell your book to a traditional publisher, you might sell 1 book and you might sell 1,000 books.
Whether you’re self-published or traditionally published, your book is going to be competing with the big dogs.
Whether you’re self-published or traditionally published, your book is going to have readers who love it and readers who hate it.  Go read the reviews of some of your all-time favorite books to see what I’m talking about.
Whether you’re self-published or traditionally published, you need to have conflict, interesting characters…and LUCK to sell your book to readers who aren’t family members.  
No matter how many editors you hire, somebody at some point is going to pick your book apart and tell you your writing is amateurish and not to give up your day job. Go read the reviews of some bestselling authors to see what I’m talking about.
Who are you going to let determine whether or not your book is good enough for publication?
One of 50 busy editors in NYC?
Your critique partner?
The judge from a contest?
I like to assume YOU, whoever you are, are smart enough to know if your book has been edited. Have you received feedback from readers, agents, editors? Having a few relatives look over your book isn’t going to cut it.
If you’re still not sure, start submitting to contests, agents, editors and see what they have to say. Is there some interest there? Are you getting feedback?
If you have been at this writing gig for a while now and you’re still not sure if your story is good enough, then it probably isn’t. Put your novel away for a while and read it again in a few months. If your story doesn’t hold your attention, it probably won’t hold anyone else’s either.
Most importantly…keep writing, revise and rewrite, and believe in yourself!
"This morning I took out a comma and this afternoon I put it back in again."
--Oscar Wilde


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hi Theresa!
I'm glad you brought up the luck factor in publishing. Lots of people don't like to admit that there's a lot of pure luck involved in the process.

I'm also glad you mentioned letting other people read your work. I happen to think good critique partners and beta readers are very important. They have a perspective on the story that the writer can not possibly have.

I judge a lot of contests for unpublished writers, and sometimes when I'm reading an entry I have to wonder if the writer ever read an actual book. If they did, they would know that their writing is nowhere near that quality, skill level, and sometime even format! I'll never forget when my husband read the first couple of pages of my second or third manuscript and he said, "Gee, this sounds like a real book." AHEM! That's because it is supposed to BE a "real" book! :-P

lacycameywrites.com said...

@ Loucinda McGary-haha :)

That's so funny!

Great post, Theresa! Love the Oscar Wilde quote :). Love "The Importance of Being Earnest!"

Theresa Ragan said...

Loucinda, I defintiely believe in the luck factor!

I'm reading other blogs about self-publishing and it's funny how many commenters talk about self-published authors only worrying about marketing and selling and not the craft itself.

Give me a break.

Right now there is a lot of interest in self-publishing, so, of course, writers are going to talk about self-publishing. I like to give ALL writers the benefit of the doubt and assume they are smart people who know to write and revise, write and revise. Get a few beta readers, etc. IF writers don't find readers or they don't get their work edited by others, THEY are the ones who will suffer the consequences.

IMO, there aren't enough publishers to publish all the good authors out there who are patiently waiting their turn. And now we don't need to wait unless we want to. Yay!

Ultimately, it's a scary thing...putting a book out there for all to judge. But at some point, AFTER a book has been edited and is ready to go, writers will need to decide whether to self-publish or not. Hopefully all the blogs and articles out there will help writers make that decision.

Loucinda, I judge a lot of contests, too, and I think contests are a great place to get feedback, especially for those writers just getting started. It's also a great learning experience to judge other writers' work. With any feedback though, writers need to know when to listen and know when to plug their ears, if you know what I mean. :)

Loucinda and Lacy, thanks for commenting. Wishing us all lots of LUCK with our books!

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for sharing! This is wonderful advice for unpublished writers like myself. It is a big scary world out there in publishing land but I am hopeful.

Amanda Brice said...

Great advice, Theresa!

I, too, judge a lot of contests. Where you are on your writing journey makes a difference in why you're entering contests. For the beginning writer, it's probably solely to get feedback. For someone wa little further along the curve, they're likely still hoping to get unbiased feedback, but also maybe to get their work in front of a coveted agent or editor.

But contests can be a total crapshoot, as can the submission-go-round itself. A lot of times it can depend on the mood of the reader (whether it's a judge, agent, editor) that day. Like you said, there are more GOOOD books out there than publishers, and a lot of stuff can slip through the cracks. Now we can get to experience those gems that didn't find a place in NY...but still need to be told!

But I agree...not everyone is ready for publication, no matter the method. The best thing about self-publishing is that anyone can do it, but it's also the worst thing.

Theresa Ragan said...

Thanks for commenting, CreativeProcrastination! Lots of luck with your writing!

Theresa Ragan said...

Hi Amanda, thanks for commenting! Amanda has an excellent book out titled, CODENAME: DANCER.

Carradee said...

I've had several beta readers for my novels, and it's funny how two readers can disagree even on how realistic they think a line or scene.

I've also encountered some self-publishers who weren't ready, but that's okay. They've always existed. Just look at FictionPress.com. :)

Theresa Ragan said...

Carradee, that's always how it works! One reader HATES the same line or scene that another reader LOVES. It's the same with books. Think about one of your favorite authors...somebody out there can't stand that author's books. Food, movies, presidents. It doesn't matter. Some of the people are going to hate it and some of the people are going to love it. Once a new writer gets that and learns to trust THEIR story and their instincts, I believe that's when the magic begins. When I say writers/people need to believe in themselves, I really mean it. So many writers are not confident with themselves or their work because if someone criticizes their work, they take it personally. I love my books but if someone hates my book, I don't think they hate me. And if they do...oh well.

And yes, I'm sure there are self-published authors putting out stuff too early. But I still think it's only going to hurt them in the long run AND I still think there are just as many traditionally published books out there that were put out too early.

I don't see this as a them against us thing either. Writers write and now we don't have to wait for 1 magical editor (1 person out of billions) to wave that wand over our head and tell us we can put our book out there. We can do it ourselves and let readers decide.

Sorry for the long comment! ha. And thanks for commenting, Carradee.