That’s a touchy statement, isn’t it? Before you light me on fire for typing it, give me the chance to explain. There are two aspects to being ready to publish your book: preparing your book and preparing yourself.
Take it Slow
Listen: I know how badly you want this.
I know you can taste it. I know it’s in your dreams. I know it’s on the tip of your lips when someone asks you what do you do or what do you want to do.
I know you need, burn, ache for publication, and that every day you aren’t published is a bitter draught to swallow.
I know. I get it. So when I tell you this, it’s not to hurt you. I tell you this to help you: slow down on your way to publication and take a big, deep breath.
Why Take the Slow Path to Publication
Your book must be ready and you must be ready.
Traditional publication can often help make sure your book is ready (or readier, at least), but I’m not here to talk about traditional vs. indie pub. I’m talking about your book and yourself, both of which will be exposed to the world the moment your book is out there.
Preparing Your Book
This site is filled to the brim with advice on how to prepare your book, and that advice is important. When I first published The Sundered in 2012, I didn’t have a writing community. I had a few helpful friends who were and are completely awesome, but that’s not the same as having other writers at your back.
I did everything to make that book good, but it still had a lot of typos. I got lucky: new readers were actually kind enough to reach out to help me refine it, rather than just going “Wow, full of errors.” That is NOT normal, and I’m incredibly grateful to this day, but to be honest, it shouldn’t have had to happen.
Yes, traditional publication might have fixed those problems—but if you’ve ever picked up a traditionally published book riddled with errors (as I certainly have), you know that’s no guarantee.
My book wasn’t ready. I was tired of waiting and didn’t have the money for an editor, but that wasn’t an excuse. I needed to join a writing community, and at that time, I hadn’t yet.
There’s no way around it.
My experience publishing Half-Shell Prophecies was completely different because now, I’m in a community, and instead of pushing the book out as quickly as I wanted, I asked for help. The incredible folks at Becoming Writer caught typos, cleaned up consistency, and clarified characters. This village made my book shine.
When you publish your book, several bizarre things happen.
First, readers assume they know who you are, and they pass judgment—publicly.
Think about the kind of statements you’ve seen lobbed even at really famous authors—everything from dismantling their personal beliefs to making wild accusations about the “real” purpose of their stories. Chances are, you won’t be famous, but that kind of judgment is still coming your way.
You can’t hide, either. Do you want people to know about your book? Then you have to be social. You have to learn to market and present yourself in a palatable way, and yes, that applies to both traditional and indie publishing. For introverts like me, this was actually the steepest learning curve, and it’s one I still haven’t mastered.
Second, you need to be ready to write no matter how people respond to your work. There will be really dry days. Sometimes, nobody buys your books and nobody reviews them. Sometimes, you feel like you’re throwing words into a bottomless void, and there’s no point to what you’re doing.
It’s hard to write before you’re published, to keep up hope even when loved ones don’t support you. It’s harder when you are published and find yourself still filled with the same doubt you carried before it happened.
There’s a third issue, and it comes from doing really well. Maybe you’re selling, and you’re getting great reviews, and you even feel comfortable calling yourself a writer. Then comes a strange, new pressure: the fear of disappointing your fans.
All by itself, this can be enough to panic you and freeze you as a writer. Fighting that fear while still dealing with self-doubt or writer’s block is a whole new kind of war, and the enemy won’t go down easily. If you’re not prepared, it can be devastating.
I know this all sounds really grim, but I’m not trying to scare you away from publication. Nobody warned me about any of these things. I had to learn them the hard way, and I want you to have a better first experience than I did. When you publish your book, I want you to enjoy the ride.
Step one: Prepare your book. Get other eyes on it. Take the time to make it as good as it can possibly be, even though that means it won’t be published as quickly as you’d like.
Publication requires some armor, and you have to craft that armor yourself. It’s worth it. The readers who get what you’re doing, who connect with you, and who enjoy your creative world the way you enjoy your favorite authors make it all worth it.
You can do this. If you don’t quit, you will do this, and hopefully, now you’ll be armed.
Have you been working toward publication? Let me know in the comments.
This is your chance to start preparing your book. I want you to take the story you’re most hopeful about publishing and grab a problem passage from it. Take the next fifteen minutes and polish it as best you can.
Then post your practice in the comments. Don’t be afraid. Other writers are here to help you refine it, and this will also be your chance to help them refine theirs. Be sure to leave feedback for your fellow writers!