You immediately start submitting it to publishers, editors, and literary agents only to get rejection after rejection after rejection.
You decide that these “literary gatekeepers” are complete idiots, all of their taste is in their mouths, and the only way to get your work out to the public is to self publish.
You spend hundreds (or thousands) of dollars using one of the many “self” publishing platforms available to choose from that offer dubious editorial support—if any.
Your book is released. You get some sales. Your book is trashed.
Not just trashed, but well and truly rubbished. Authors don’t just write books, we give birth to babies that happen to be books, and if your book really was a baby in this scenario, the world would have witnessed a crime against humanity.
But before you blame everyone and their ancestors all the way back to the Primordial Soup, take a look in the mirror. Chances are, you sabotaged yourself way before your book got published.
Because you were in such a hurry to get published, you didn’t consider whether or not your manuscript was ready to publish.
Before anyone accuses me of taking a dig at people who self publish, I haven’t made my point yet, and the point is this: never submit your first draft.
Too many people who want to be published make the mistake of submitting their first draft, or worse, a work-in-progress (aka a WIP), and after receiving many rejections decide to “go it alone.” Not only are they certain that they have written the greatest story ever, but it has to be released immediately because the world cannot exist another minute without this literary masterpiece in mass circulation.
But what many of them fail to realize is that they could have gotten that publishing contract or better sales and reviews if they self published if they had taken the time to present their best effort. To achieve this, the work has to be edited and polished so that it shines and is no longer a diamond in the rough.
And the first step of the editing process is self editing.
“Writing is rewriting” is the motto of many published authors, and if you want to join them, you should add this to your writing mantra if your aim is to be a published author—and not just a poseur or a wannabe. You have got to respect the craft that is writing.
Don’t submit your first draft. Submit your final draft, and that draft may be the last of a long line of drafts or even a second or third draft if the writing is polished.
If you feel that your self-editing skills are weak, strengthen them by educating yourself or taking formal writing and editing classes. If that idea is too intimidating or if you believe you’ve done all that you can, enlist (read: hire) a professional editor to help you polish your work before you start shopping it around. And if you really can’t be bothered with editing at all, do the world a favor and hire a talented ghostwriter who cares for humanity too much for it to be assaulted by crap writing.
If you don’t have the money to hire a professional editor, you need to find someone whose opinion you trust when it comes to the field/genre in which you write and has a solid understanding of the type of writing you are doing. Writing fiction is different from nonfiction writing, academic writing, and business writing. If your editor doesn’t understand this, find another editor. Finding your favorite English teacher from your days at school and getting them to edit may not be the best choice.
You will notice how I said you should get the help of an editor before you submit your work seeking publication. I believe I have said before that the people making the decisions are more likely to accept your work if they feel that very little is left for them to do before getting it on the market. This saves the publisher money, the book gets on sale faster, you start earning a royalty sooner, and everyone is happy. If your book is picked up by an agent, the agent finds a publisher for it faster, you get a publishing contract, you and your agent start earning and splitting your royalty sooner, and everyone is happy. Or, if you self publish, people will buy your book, enjoy it, recommend it, and you make all the money and you will be happy.
Do you see where I’m going with this?
If you’re serious about your craft, I suggest reading Revision and Self Editing by James Scott Bell to get you in the frame of mind of putting your best work forward.
Believe me. Your (future) readers will appreciate you for it.