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Rushing to Publish Could Mean Blowing Your Best Opportunities
So, you’ve finally finished your novel.
What you’ve accomplished is significant and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. How many people do you know who have spent countless hours by themselves sitting in front of a keyboard creating an imaginary world?
It’s only a matter of time before your creation changes your life, and that can’t happen too soon. What are you waiting for? It’s time to start submitting it to all those fortunate agents and publishers you’ve selected, right?
I was once like you, full of enthusiasm and hubris upon completing my first novel. To get my masterpiece published I pulled in all my favors, two actually. I had an acquaintance who knew Jeffery Archer personally (yes, that Jeffery Archer), and I had a business associate who was an editor in a well-respected publishing firm.
The first response came from Archer’s agent. She suggested I take some writing courses. A little while later the editor returned my manuscript. She’d taken the time to line edit the first chapter complete with margin notes. Suffice to say the editing notes all but obscured the original text.
At the time I didn’t realize it, but I had just blown two really good opportunities in my rush to get published. That manuscript is still buried somewhere in my filing cabinet. I’m too embarrassed to look at it.
Most recently I’ve taken on writing and doing video book reviews of the work of new, self-published authors.
I’ve written a lot of book reviews, but in this category of new, self-published authors the average star rating is 2.8, a bit better than 'I didn’t like it,' but not quite as good as 'I liked it.'
A few of these authors are brilliant, but most, though they have potential, are hampered by lack of craft. If they continue writing and reading, I know they’ll improve. Writing is like most things – the more you do it the better you get.
I have to add a caveat to that statement. Your writing will improve if you continue to do it while seeking out constructive criticism and taking it to heart.
Most of the novels I’m giving two stars to have been rushed into publication. I know you’re excited but remember – it’s never as good as you think it is, and it can always be better. Yes, always.
Here are some suggestions you might want to consider when you’ve completed your novel. It’s what I do and though it hasn’t garnered me success, it’s at least saved me further embarrassment.
- I revise the manuscript a minimum three times or until I feel it’s finished.
- I read it out loud (it drives my cat crazy).
- Then I put it away for at least three months or however long it takes to get it out of my system.
- While I’m waiting to be purged, I work on something completely different.
- Once I’ve put some distance between my ego and the book, I’m ready. I take out the manuscript and send it to as many beta readers for comment as I can. If you don’t have a stable of readers who are free from conflict of interest – that means no family and no friends - join a writing group, online or otherwise, and workshop the novel.
Once I’ve decided it’s time for the final rewrite, I gather all the comments and criticisms together and begin.
When I’m finished I have another decision to make. Do I begin the traditional submission process or save myself a lot of time and frustration and go directly to self-publishing?
If you follow this method, I guarantee your final version will be different and better than it was when you deemed it complete. And if by some small miracle The New York Times decides to review it, it will be perfect – or as perfect as you could make it.
Keep writing and remember what Nietzsche said: The doer alone learneth.
Written by Readers’ Favorite Reviewer Rod Raglin