Monday, June 15, 2015

Craft Is King! (Or Queen!)

I've been asked lately by quite a few new writers how can they know when they're ready to publish.

I can't answer that question. Things have changed so much since I made the decision to self-publish. I judged my skills by the answers I received from agents and editors to my queries. The most common response I received was summarized thusly, "Love your style. Love your story. I don't know how to sell this."

I don't know how to sell this.

To me, that said they didn't want to find a new voice. They didn't want to create a new market. They were looking for an easy sell.

I can't really fault the agents and editors for that attitude. As a business person, you always want the best return on your investment (ROI) you can get.

Except I thought I  could find a market for my stories. Maybe I was pretentious. Maybe I was full of myself. But I did find market for the stories I wrote.

The key was that I'd mastered the basics of the craft of writing. I knew how to plot. I learned about the different points-of-view (POV) from which the story can be told. I'd mastered basic grammar when I was writing a magazine column.

That's not to say I don't make mistakes. I do. But that's a lot different than not understanding the difference between first person POV and omniscient POV. And for the record, I don't think there's a damn thing wrong with omniscient if it works for your story.

Unfortunately, there's a lot of folks releasing books before they've mastered these basics. That's their decision, but then they pitch a fit when readers ding them on reviews for misspelled words, bad grammar, and huge plot holes.

So please don't ask me if you're reading to publish. It really depends on you. Do you think you can sell enough copies to earn back your investment in your book?

There's a better question to ask yourself. Do you feel confident enough in your basic abilities to put yourself out there to be criticized? Because that's what we do when we publish.


  1. I agree that one of the best ways for a newbie to answer that question is to watch the responses you get from (pro-level) editors. If you're getting some significant number of "Good story, well written, not buying it, enjoyed reading it, looking forward to more from you" type responses, you're probably ready to indie publish if you want to.

    Which doesn't mean you don't need at least a good copyeditor, but if a bunch of professional editors enjoy your work and think it's well written -- even if it doesn't work for their current project for whatever reason -- then the basics are probably there.


    1. I'm leery of saying what another writer needs. I've spent too much time fixing the slaughter a professional copyeditor inflicted on a third party's novel. :)

  2. That's why I said a GOOD copyeditor. :P