People have been emailing me and calling me for writing or publishing help . . . all kinds of help. Of course, it is nice when I can help anyone out and even do it for peanuts, sometimes. We have to differentiate how we work with writers and authors, but there is one thing that is universal: we have to wrestle with our manuscript decision-making options. Some people want to write a book. Others already wrote a book. Some have an idea for a book. Others don't have an idea, but they want to write a book. Some are serious about what they want to do. Others think that they are serious until they learn that the easiest part is to write a manuscript. The hardest part is pitching it to publishers and marketing it throughout the entire process. After all, we (usually) want our work to be read by others if we already made a decision to write a full-length manuscript in the first place.
1. The Unpublished Manuscript: This is great for sharing with family and friends during the holidays. It is "fun" to see a hard copy of our work on a shelf with our tangibility stacked on white paper in the corner of our home office. We are happy to have followed through with a concept. We write and write (which is noble and respectful), but our manuscript becomes dead in the water when we wrestle with trying to figure out how to turn a manuscript into a book. We might not have a plan of attack. Our writing is rarely made public. We sit idle. We dream. But, we do nothing. This is where manuscripts sit in a manuscript graveyard.
2. The Panic-Stricken Manuscript: Sometimes writers or authors get an itchy trigger finger. They want to see their work published (and quickly). They put their blood, sweat, and tears into writing their manuscript and they might be a little tired by now. They try to pitch their manuscript to a few publishers and never hear back from them. Then, they panic and become restless. As a result, they create a shoddy self-published book just to see their name appear on Amazon. They might even bypass professional editorial assistance (a HUGE no-no). This is the #1 critique of self-publishing: the lack of editorial standards. So why would you add to this poor perception? I am not bashing self-publishing. I actually think that there are pros and cons to both self-publishing and traditional publishing. Each manuscript is different and needs something different from the market. However, when panic strikes and we become impatient, this is where manuscripts become casualties.
3. The Patient Manuscript: These are thoughtfully planned and reflective of your specific goals. Yes, goals. These are different goals from your manuscript goals. The patient manuscript seeks feedback, but is not unrealistic to the unsolicited, simultaneous, submission process. Searching for publishers who have front lists that might be a great home for your manuscript is a start. Writers await editorial assistance or publishing advice within this third type of manuscript space. This is where manuscripts breathe.
Writing and publishing are two different things--ENTIRELY different things. Don't get them confused. You owe it to yourself to write and keep writing . . . but don't spoil things because you either don't want to run the race or you want to cheat at crossing the self-inflicted finish line of your dreams. Run the distance. Pace yourself. It feels better anyway and your readers will appreciate your professional work much more than visiting your manuscript in a graveyard or hospital.