Nearly every author I work with asks me a variation of the same question.
“Is this any good?”
“Should I keep going?”
“Am I wasting my time?”
“Do I have any chance of getting published?”
I always want to be helpful, but these aren’t questions I can really answer.
Will my book become a bestseller? Probably not, but who knows.
Will it get published? Literally no one can give you a definitive answer to that before it goes through the submission process. There are books I thought were surefire bestsellers that busted and there were books I thought would never see the light of day that became blockbusters. Everyone I know in publishing has similar stories.
Should I keep going? Only you can answer that.
Is this going to matter?
Believe me, I understand the impulse behind these questions! I do. I’ve been there. After I pulled the plug on submissions for the first (unpublished) novel I wrote, I felt entirely crazy the whole time I was writing Jacob Wonderbar and the Cosmic Space Kapow.
I thought I was wasting my time. I thought I wasn’t good enough. I kept the whole thing a secret from my friends and family until I actually had an agent because I was scared of seeming like a failure if it didn’t “work out,” whatever that even means.
I wish I could go back and shake myself. I’d tell myself to snap out of it, write the dang book, and draw upon support from friends and family to help me through it. I was going to write that book no matter what, so why second guess myself the entire time?
The fact is, all these questions about whether a book will get published or whether you’re any good all boil down to this: Is all this time and sweat going to matter?
And the answer to that is: yes. Of course your writing matters.
Why your writing matters
Go back to the moment you decided to write a book. Where did that come from? What was the catalyst?
Sure, maybe you’ve been spending your time daydreaming about becoming a megabestselling author and buying a mansion with your mountain of royalties, but I’m guessing that is not how you actually started out.
No. The way you started out is that you had an idea for a book.
Where did that come from? What was that kernel of inspiration that turned into a burning desire? What kept you in that chair for hundreds of hours as you were writing it?
I don’t know either! Who the heck knows where this stuff comes from??
But it came from somewhere. It was inside of you and it was burning hot enough that you put in the time and effort to get it onto paper.
I’m of the belief that writing and editing transforms the world, not least of which because of the effect it has on the writer.
Your book might find ten readers, it might find millions. You’ll never know until you put it out there. But you will find readers and they will be changed in ways big and small by having read your book.
But maybe most importantly of all, you will grow and change in the process of writing it. You’ll see things you never saw before, learn things you never knew, and process some of the pain and joy that churns within all of us.
There’s something inside of you that wants to get out. So let it out. And let it transform you into the person you’re meant to become.
Need help with your book? I’m available for manuscript edits, query critiques, and coaching!
For my best advice, check out my guide to writing a novel (now available in audio) and my guide to publishing a book.
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Art: Spinning by Firelight by Henry Ossawa Turner