Many people come to me with books they believe are ready to be published. I want to help them, but some are impatient. A number end up wasting a considerable amount of money on books that may not be carefully edited. Unfortunately, some self-published books are poorly done, so they hurt future opportunities for the writer. They also have the damaging effect of convincing prospective readers to steer away from indie books. There ‘ain’t no sech thing as a perfect book,’ but I believe we owe readers and our reputation the best we can produce. And that means a lot of work, and sometimes a lot of revision. It’s difficult to ask an eager writer itching to publish to ‘hold their horses.’ Some go into catatonic shock when after I congratulate them for the amazing accomplishment of writing a book, I ask them why they did it. “What is your goal?”
Writing is Not Easy
Think about it: What are the positives and negatives in trying to write a book? Let’s see how many you think of:
Based on your chart above, why do you still want to write a book? Are you writing for yourself, your family, and/or friends? If you are writing for any of the above, you have accomplished a great deal by completing a book. Congratulations! You are done.
But there’s a catch: What are your goals for writing?
I have witnessed many people who started out wanting to write only for themselves, family, and friends change their minds. Of course, they may have wanted that all along. A lack of confidence, awareness of the hurdles, and other reasons may have blocked that goal. Recognizing that publishing for others demands commitment, costs, and time may be a hurdle as well. And some may just use the “I’m writing only for myself,” as a buffer against criticism. But something often happens unexpectedly to those who genuinely start out writing for private enjoyment. The idea grows that maybe what they are writing has value: either to help others or as a financial venture.
This decision to go wider changes the game. While I advocate that every writer owes their readers the best product, the writer who dreams of becoming an author has more at stake. Once a writer sets the goal to be published, they should be willing to take on the obligations involved. So, while completing any book is an amazing accomplishment, putting your name on a book that strangers hopefully will read ups the ante. It is a commitment to research, careful editing, the time to have impartial others read your work, and much more. That is why my first question to a writer is always, “What is your goal?”
Mark H. Newhouse is the founder of Newhouse Creative Group and has helped hundreds of writers. He has won multiple awards for his books and stories for children and adults. The Devil’s Bookkeepers won Book of the Year and the Gold Medal Historical Fiction from the Florida Writers Association, as well as the Grand Prize Fiction Series Award and Hemingway Wartime Series in the Chanticleer International Book Awards, among other honors. Contact him at newhousecreativegroup.com.