Congratulations, you’ve written your novel. Your beta-readers are done, self edit is done, and now it’s decision time. What’s actually on your personal Bucket List? Is it to write a novel, or is it to have a novel published? There’s a world of difference. We are back to the same question you had to answer honestly the first time – is it need or want? One you do because you need to do it, and the other you do because you want to do it. I needed to write Protecting Parker, but publishing was never on my list. It was a very personal story, and while it was very important to me, I never thought anyone beyond my family and friends would be interested.
When publishing became a possibility, I found myself with a boatload of questions. How much control was I willing to give up? Most of my friends know that I have a black belt in “control freak.” Was I willing to submit the story to a publisher who might not have the same focus I did? We aren’t talking about making corrections to sharpen the story – we’re talking about changes to fit a publisher’s line better. More of this or less of that, so the story feels more romantic, or more action oriented.
The reality is that a publisher’s job is to make money for the their shareholders and they do that through book sales. They’re not only following the hot trends; a publisher is trying to project or even set future trends. They’re buying stories that fit in their lines, and ones that they are comfortable promoting. I’m not interested in anyone’s trends or lines. I’m focused only on my story.
This might sound silly to some people, but a serious consideration for me was the book cover. Was I willing to accept that someone else might see my book in a different way than I did, and could I tolerate a cover that didn’t suit my vision? Was I desperate enough to put up with something that I felt was crappy just to get my name in print? Well… you all know how I feel about the cover situation.
The other thing I asked myself was did I really need to see my novel in traditional print, or would I be happy with having an eBook? Was it about pointing at the book in a store, signing copies for my friends, or simply having it out there for people to read? Those are the questions that will determine what you do with your manuscript when the time comes. When you look at it from this perspective, you begin to realize that finding an agent or publisher that meets your needs is in some ways harder than producing the darn novel.
I’m one of those pain-in-the-butt people that always has to do it the hard way. I have to ask the hard questions and try to answer them honestly. I’ll always go my own way, but I’ll do it with a clear conscious and positive attitude. Only you can decide what is important to you.