After all the excitement of the cover reveal yesterday, and then as it turns out, the publisher had given me the not quite final cover which only added to the excitement and led to another reveal later, (yesterday’s post now has the correct image) and (pause for breath) we go live with the single today that will be free to download (optional donation to charity) — emergency post with link later, (yes this is all one sentence!) — I will calm it all down a notch now before I get tucked into the novel-writing.
I was pondering the dos and don’ts of the submission process and there are many such posts out there. I won’t give a step by step common sense list — only to say one thing — ALWAYS FOLLOW THE GUIDELINES TO THE LETTER. And that includes how you format your work. Get it right. Hard copy proof it for typos etc. You know all this and if you don’t — you should. Points finger, tries to look like a school teacher. Fails.
No what I was pondering was this need to have it now mentality and one of the many reasons some writers choose to self-publish — because rejection hurts? What can I say — it really does. Now I know this isn’t the only or even the main reason we self-publish but it is why a lot of us do — so don’t think this is a statement against self-publishing because it’s really not. Really really. Honest. Shakes head, nods head, shakes it again. Oh dear now I look like a stuck chicken. I think it’s great this option is available. Truly. But (always a but) — what popped into my frazzled, on the computer far too long without breaks yesterday brain was that I think of a lot of the reason why some material published isn’t as good as it can be is we submit too early. Yep really.
I say this from my experience as a very small publisher, but also, mostly in fact, from my editing and critiquing work. Writers tell me they have their novel finished and want my help and in some cases are primed and ready to start seeking a publisher or the all elusive agent (they do take people on, don’t they? Now and then? Might be an urban myth — she jests with tongue in cheek.) If the MS is an early draft and by that I mean, first to fourth even, and a first novel — there’s a reasonable chance it’s a few edits away from finished. Finished is a bit of a myth too. Also said with tongue firmly stuck to inside of cheek. The big question is knowing when it’s ready.
We all think it is and then it’s not and end up with so many versions of it. But this is process. This is needed. Really. If you can’t cope with writing the same novel about 8 times (average I’d day) then you might have a problem. It’s in the getting it right I derive great pleasure and so can you and I know many of you do!
All I’m saying, if I have a point in my apparent, going too fast with excitement, supposed to be calming it down brain this morning, is there are key thoughts I want to share (it took this long to get to it! Now there’s a lesson in editing!) — here they are:
1. If your MS is an early draft it’s probably not ready.
2. If your MS is a much later draft, it’s probably not ready — but if it is almost ready then a publisher/agent might take a chance on it.
3. If your MS is rejected with standard rejections and not whispers (as someone put it so well on FB yesterday) of almost there it’s probably not ready.
4. If your MS has never been critiqued or copy-edited by someone who knows, and is a first novel in particular, it’s almost certainly not ready.
And — 5. If you decide to self-publish and any of these apply, do yourself a favour and at least have the work critiqued/copy-edited to address why it was rejected before you put it out there — especially, let me repeat, if any of the above apply.
And last, but not least, 6. Don’t publish it too early. Make sure you have gone through several edits and it is as good as it can be (and that means the critique/copy-edit) to be as sharp as possible — if you want to sell books beyond the first one (which will always sell to family and friends) aim for longevity and think future sales.
On that note if your chief aim is to seek an agent, then remember they want you for your career, not just one book and that’s really important.
Of course if your motivation isn’t to secure an agent/publisher after self-publishing, or to self-publish your way into a bestseller and you’re doing it purely for fun and that’s enough — ignore all of the above! But it’s not why most of us write. Is it? Except for the fun part, which it should always be — right?
God, where did all that come from today? Too much caffeine. Or not enough?
Going off to write and await a phone call from my publicist. (Showing off now, always wanted to say that, and it is actually true! Claire from Parthian is calling be about launchy and press things this morning) Woo hoo! Never get used to it! Keep it fun. Always do it because you love it. Really, truly, honestly.
Act your shoe size. It helps!