How to tell if you are ready to publish? Simply, if you’ve done so much research and editing into your story that you can’t stand even thinking about it anymore…and then you went and re-wrote parts or all of it at least one more time! Research, editing and good stories are so important, for editors will dissect your work to its bare bones, looking for mistakes. After all, they have a professional reputation too. The sad part about it is that your 6th, 10th and 15th pages may be spectacular, but they’ll never be read, because your editor or publisher will never read them, if he/she starts to find mistakes, flaws, cliqued plots, shallow characterizations and the such that can impune a story
They usually read the first page or two, to get a ‘feel’ for the written work submitted to them. If they don’t feel it’s worthy for publication, it’s all they usually need. If they feel your story has potential, they may read more and write remarks on pages they’ve read about plot-structure, grammar, etc. That is if you find an editor who is charitable enough to even do that. Many editors will return the manuscript with the dreaded form letter…after all, they don’t have time for you. They deal with thousands of manuscripts a year. It’s a business to make money, after all. A lot of errors can make a writer look like an amateur. Remember, writers are no different a professional than a doctor or a lawyer! I’ve even heard our profession equated to being an electrician, having intricate knowledge of wires like words.
Writing professionalism comes in the building of sentences, phrases and paragraphs that should flow like good wine-with the research and proper editing in its construction to back it up! Poorly researched articles, stories and books, with noticeable errors in grammar, spelling and other formatting is going to red flag your work to say the least. Also, once your written work is completed, put it away for awhile, then come back to it later with a fresh perspective that may enable you to see something you didn’t see earlier.
Also, you can tell if you’re ready to publish, if your work stands the ultimate litmus test: the general public. There are a number of online sites, like www.authonomy.com , a free site on the Internet, run by the UK-based publishing giant, HarperCollins, in which any writer can join, write a short synopsis of their book, and download part of or the entire book. It immediately starts to become rated by other writers on the group. With luck, eventually it’ll reach the top five, where it will be evaluated by a number of editors at Harpercollins. Along the way, you get feedback and critiques about your writing-helping you to polish it and grow as a writer. In theory, and through practice, one should steadily advance through the ranks through improved writing to the point where they may not only be considered by publishers like HarperCollins, but other publishing houses who may be perusing the site looking for new talent.
Whatever feedback you get as a writer, listen and learn…be it from a editor, or Joe and Jane sixpack. They will tell you if you are ready to publish-if you can take the criticism and learn from it. You have to be able to take it to successfully publish any written work. Keep your ears and mind open, and maybe you’ll just make it as a writer! But your written work has to be written very well, but not so dissected that your story loses its flow and cohesion. Remember, with any writing, whether it is submitted online to sites like authonomy or helium, or published to large print houses should be done well, and not just read by your Aunt Martha! If it is fiction, bounce it off sites like authonomy. They give you an opportunity to see how well it can do in the ratings, giving you a chance to adjust parts of it, to improve ratings.
The problem with many new writers is that they figure that they can just pen a book and have it published like that. In my mentoring of an emerging writer, she spoke about publishing a children’s book just like that! My response to her was that to become a successful, published writer- sometimes it can be harder than becoming a doctor! It takes very good talent and a strong eye for detail to become a writer. To become a more established writer and a doctor, it takes enormous practice, feedback, editing and exposure. Sites like these are priceless in doing that, for writers of all stripes, giving an emerging author an opportunity to perhaps make it all the way up to six figure or more deals.
Another tip to becoming a successful writer is never to look at the money…ever! If you remove the money equation, then your writing is what it should be a labor of love. Of course, the money does come, but it should never be the incentive. Therefore, another tip that will tell you if you are ready to publish is that you have worked on your story with due dilligence, never saw the money, and viewed your story as a labor of love for the world to enjoy, interpret, celebrate…or damn. Even when the money did come, it was always secondary-never primary or motivating.