From Jane Friedman:
Don’t you wish someone could tell you how close you are to getting traditionally published? Don’t you wish someone could say, “If you just keep at it for three more years, you’re certain to make it!”
Or, even if it would be heartbreaking, wouldn’t it be nice to be told that you’re wasting your time, so that you can move on, try another tack (like self-publishing), or perhaps even change course entirely to produce some other creative work?
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Recognizing Steps That Don’t Help You Get Published
Let’s start with four common time-wasting behaviors. You may be guilty of one or more. Most writers have been guilty of the first.
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2. Self-publishing when no one is listening
There are many reasons writers choose to self-publish, but the most common one is the inability to land an agent or a traditional publisher.
Fortunately, it’s more viable than ever for a writer to be successful without a traditional publisher or agent. However, when writers chase self-publishing as an alternative to traditional publishing, they often have a nasty surprise in store:
No one is listening. They don’t have an audience.
Bowker reports that in 2011, more than 148,000 new print books were self-published, and more than 87,000 e-books were self-published. . . . Since Bowker only counts books that have ISBNs, that means thousands more titles go uncounted, since Amazon doesn’t require an ISBN for authors to publish through the Kindle Direct Publishing program.
If your goal is to bring your work successfully to the marketplace, it’s a waste of time to self-publish that work, regardless of format, if you haven’t yet cultivated an audience for it, or can’t market and promote it effectively through your network. Doing so will not likely harm your career in the long run, but it won’t move it forward, either.
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- Many first manuscript attempts are not publishable, even after revision, yet they are necessary and vital for a writer’s growth. A writer who’s just finished her first manuscript probably doesn’t realize this, and will likely take the rejection process very hard. Some writers can’t move past this rejection. You’ve probably heard experts advise that you should always start working on the next manuscript, rather than waiting to publish the first. That’s because you need to move on, and not get stuck on publishing your first attempt.
- A writer who has been working on the same manuscript for years and years—and has writtennothing else—might be tragically stuck. There isn’t usually much valuable learning going on when someone tinkers with the same pages over a decade.
- Writers who have been actively writing for many years, have produced multiple full-length manuscripts, have one or two trusted critique partners (or mentors), and have attended a couple major writing conferences are often well positioned for publication. They probably know their strengths and weaknesses, and have a structured revision process. Many such people require only luck to meet preparedness.
Link to the rest at Jane Friedman