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This blog was featured on 06/18/2019
Should this manuscript be the book you try to publish?
Contributor
Written by
She Writes
June 2019
Contributor
Written by
She Writes
June 2019

Writing a first draft is hard–there's a reason why there are so many articles and forums dedicated to tips, tricks and discussions about how to get the writing done. While getting a manuscript completely written is an important step towards publishing, it truly is only the beginning. There are a number of other factors to consider when you're deciding whether or not your current manuscript is the book you want to try to publish. 

Is your manuscript marketable?

Not every writer dreams of bestseller fame, but if you're querying agents or hoping to sell a few copies, you'll want to know if there is an audience for your story. Research categories on Amazon. Seek out titles that are comparable to your own. Do the top books in your genre have a lot of reviews? 

It's okay to write a book with unique elements and unusual characters, but if there isn't a way to classify your book it will be hard for readers to find it. It will be even harder for publishers to be convinced that it has a place in the market. 

And while trends come and go, it is important to get an idea for what sort of stories are top of mind for readers and publishers. For example, 2019 is all about writing diverse characters. Contemporary authors like Helen Hoang, Abdi Nazemian, Colson Whitehead and Carmen Maria Machado are creating new and compelling characters many people aren't used to seeing in literature. Does your manuscript have any of the elements you're seeing in the top books?

Stay true to your story but also keep in mind that in order for someone to want to read your book, they have to be able to grasp what it is. If you are struggling to place it in the market, readers and publishers will too. 

Does your manuscript have a strong theme? 

Now that you've determined your book is marketable to readers, publishers and potentially the media, it's important to look at your manuscript's core. Can you condense your book down into one main idea or concept? 

Think of this as the elevator pitch for your story. If you find yourself floundering and needing lengthy details to explain the book's most prevalent message, then you might need to consider this during revisions. A high concept or a global theme can not only help shape characters and dictacte plot, it will create consistency throughout your story that is compelling for readers. 

For example, Margaret Atwood knows fear and the strength women possess is something millions can relate to. And while Gillead and the dictatorship that rules it are fictional, the consistent themes present in every chapter of her novel The Handmaid's Tale are timeless. That's why a book written in 1985 is able to be a hit TV show in 2019. The themes stood the test of time.

Writing for 'You' vs. Writing for Readers 

Oftentimes, there can be pressure to try and publish a manuscript once it's complete. While it may have taken you months, years or decades to finish, sometimes a manuscript is never meant to be published. While realizing this can be difficult, it's important to recognize the kind of work you want to put your name on and whether you wrote this manuscript for yourself or a larger audience. Writing is often therapeutic or even a great source for releasing stress and getting your creative mind working–publication isn't what gives your work value. 

According to an article on Mental Floss, Sylvia Plath's husband disclosed that his late wife had written an autobiographical novel about their marriage before she died at the age of 30. While the manuscript never saw the light of day, many speculate it's due to the fact that Sylvia didn't want to let others know about the indiscretions in her marriage. This furthers the notion that you don't have to publish every manuscript you write.

There's no perfect formula for determining whether a manuscript should progress towards publication or get tucked into a drawer. For some it's a feeling. For others, it's about having a plan. Give yourself the freedom to write without the pressure of publishing your work during the first draft. But as you begin the revision process, start to think about the story's market potential, the themes guiding your book and the audience you hope to reach.

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