The good news is, writers are no longer at traditional publishing’s beck and call. We have options. Back in the day, we had none. Our only hope? Getting a nod from one of the publishing houses.
The first winds of change started blowing in the late 1980’s when ‘self’ turned into a dirty word once ‘publishing’ followed it. The houses tagged this publishing road ‘vanity publication‘ and for a long time, that label stuck. Then Amazon started making noises about moving into the e-publishing business and marketer/writers like Seth Godin began penning blogs about writers’ options.
Huh? Writers have options?
Until rather recently, few writers including this one, entertained the idea of publishing without a big house ‘brand’ stamped on our books. Today, writers are considering all our options, from traditional to independent presses and yes, we are even reconsidering self -publishing, thanks to platforms provided by Amazon, Kindle and Smashwords, et al.
The good news? We have options.
The bad news? We have options
For some writers, ‘choice’ may present some problems. While I can’t back up my claim with hard core research, writers tend to share a common personality trait that shows up like this in our writing: Sometimes, we think it’s better than it is. Other times, everybody we know writes better than we do. Sound familiar?
I’ve been suffering with this personality tic since I landed my first columnist gig that almost didn’t happen.Twenty-five years ago, I pitched four columns to a weekly community newspaper, the kind that ends up in your driveway uninvited. Still, the editor liked my columns enough to offer me a weekly gig at no pay and with one stipulation – My 850+ word columns had to be edited down to 650 words-max.
I protested. My columns were already tight I told her and repeated the recommendation my writing teacher offered about my work. “Then I guess we can’t use you because we don’t have time to edit….” I didn’t let her finish that sentence and promised to deliver my first edited column by 9 am the next morning. Guess what? She was right. It read so much better.
Today, we don’t have gatekeepers called editors curing our words until they’re ready for reader consumption. And that’s the problem. So much of what I read today suffers from premature publication -stories with potential to be good buried underneath piles of words. I suspect, impatience is one reason why. Another very probable cause is lack of knowledge. Writers don’t appreciate what a good editor can do until they experience this art form in their work.
Just because we can publish doesn’t mean we should. Today more than ever, writers need editors. In the age of the internet, every piece of prose you publish will follow you. For some writers, that’s okay because all they really want is to get published. To them I say, “Cool.” But if you are a writer who hopes to travel for a long time down the road to continuing publication, don’t prematurely publish. You’re apt to regret it when the book comes out and readers – who you don’t know – post critiques you won’t like.
So what’s a writer to do? Find a good editor. I know several fine editors and soon, I will invite them to post blogs & links on MarlaMiller.com.
Meanwhile, in the tradition of show don’t tell, I’ve decided to ‘walk the talk’ about premature submission/publication and, using my own work as example, show visitors what good editing looks like.
Like you, I now have more options to publish. I’ve penned two novels, Sweetspot: Now & Then & Deadly Little Secrets that I believe have audiences waiting. I intend to reach them but first, I need the help of a good editor. We all need help. I’m now working with a fine editor and with her permission, I will be posting portions of our editing process so writers can see how good editing makes your story better.
Will it be painful at times? Probably, but my writer’s ego can handle it now. Why? Because I believe in my stories and no longer believe every word I write is too precious to cut.
The advantage traditional publishing still offers is its stable of editors who make most books read better. Editors with eagle eyes do that for writers and soon I will show you what that looks like in my own work. I plan to post a few pages of Sweetspot: Now & Then in its pre-edited and post-edited form. My editor and I will chat about the process via blog posts and/or video.
You really don’t want your prematurely published prose to haunt you one day, do you?