Okay, so I have been away for a while, thanks to graduate studies, but I am back and wanted to leavea tidbit of information before the end of the year (or world if you're into that 12/21/12 stuff).
I keep on hearing many people asking if they should self-publish their works, namely in the modern times when publishing on e-readers is so easy.
But, how do you know if you're just putting stuff out there just to put it out there and how do you know if you're actually putting out something good for people to read?
Thankfully, I'm here to give you a few guidelines as to what to look for.
1. Has it been published yet? You can't just put something straight to e-reader expecting you'll get a milion sales right away. It takes a lot of effort for a writer to get those out there and then promote them, but what if someone could do that for you. AHA! That's where slush piles come in. If it's good enough to get sold, it's good enough to get electronically published. But, typically, that means you will also have it in print form as well, reaching a wider base as well as other opportunities for promotion. And some of those will be set up by the publisher, taking some of the legwork out of your end and leaving you more time to write. But, if they find it good enough to publish, then it's obviously good enough to have e-published later.
2. Has it gotten more than one personal rejection? Understanding there are limits to publishers, though, in how much they can produce, you may not get published right away even though you have a good story. However, editors' time is valuable. If they are taking time out of their busy schedule to give you a short note on your story, then your story is doing quite well. However, one editor's comments is merely a taste thing. Two editors' comments is the sign of something good. Three editors' comments and you should keep that story on market to get it to sell. Four editors' comments...well, you get the idea.
3. Has it been on the market for longer than 1 year? Again, there are limits to publishers, but you cannot give them a fair chance on reading your work. Once you get two personal rejections in two months, you shouldn't be rushing out to your e-reader publsihing software and format it for Kindle, releasing it the next day. You should keep on having that story out at market and try to have it sell. Remember, if you sell it, you're on your own. If you sell it to someone else, they do it all for you.
4. Has it been peer reviewed at least once? Finding peer groups to peer review your works is a good way to keep your skills in good shape. If you constantly get rejections, though, you may be missing something the readers are not. Therefore, it's imperative to find a good group to peer review with and find the areas you need to work on so you can get a more finished product. You do not want to self-publish a work and have it full of weak characters. It leaves a bad taste in people's mouths.
5. Have you been writing seriously for two years? Seems odd, I know, that I said one year earlier, but you need to have time to improve and dig into the recesses of your mind to find the gold. Detroit Ex Nihilo was a story I never thought would sell, but I wrote it anyway. And it sold. I wrote Zion first and it received over ten rejections on the story. Still, it sold to an anthology. It took me nearly two years to get that story sold and it was one of the first entries I put in for Writers of the Future. It takes time to become a better writer. You will always improve, even in revisiting some stories you wrote when you started writing. You will have those "A Ha" moments when you are writing, but you don't want to have them when you're reading your work on a Kindle.
If you have any other guidelines you use, please feel free to post them in the comments. Until next time.