A Basic Message to Writers

Dear Fellow Writers,

Just a quick little message for you all.


I wasn’t even going to write this or was planning on it, BUT there was the dismaying thread, which is how I’ve been referring to this on my Twitter. It’s on AbsoluteWrite, the writing forum I hang out on.

It’s entitled Beta Readers or Professional Editor? Prepared to be aggravated and entertained. You see, the innocent poster simply asked whether he should have beta readers or a professional editor look at his work first. Which one should he go with?

Clearly, the answer is beta readers. They’re cheaper 🙂

Then someone chimed in with “why do you even need a beta reader? And why would you hire a professional editor at all?!!!”

(Because some of us like to have new eyes on our work before we send it out to the world, in whatever form sending it out into the world is for us)

The poster came back, said thank you, and replied that he wanted to know which ones he should go with because he wants to self-publish.

In which case, have both betas and a professional editor look at it is the correct answer.

And then, of course, it became a thread of self pubbing. vs. traditional publishing.

Now, this isn’t a topic I’ve blogged about–the differences between self publishing and traditional publishing because….well, I’m not up to that stage yet. I think self-publishing is exciting, I think it’ll continue to grow, and I think it’s awesome for those who are up for the challenge of writing, pubbing, formatting, editing, marketing and keeping track of their own numbers. Trad pub is often slow and a lot of it is out of an author’s hands, after all. So like an indie band, indie authors are doing it their way.

I’m not, as yet, one of those people. I studied the traditional model of publishing in graduate school and my dream was to always have a hard copy of my novel sitting on the shelf in Barnes And Noble near Jane Austen’s books. (Holla, alphabetical order!) So whenever the heck I finish this dang book, I will be sweating out queries, researching agents, and praying that I get published that a-way. But that’s me. And having interned in publishing houses and for a literary agent, I know how I need my book to read when it goes out. I also know the percentages of how many manuscripts get rejected. It’s daunting.

(Hell, at one of my internships, I had to fact-check a book that was indie published and it was godawful.)

But then, so is the prospect of figuring out how to self-publish and market a book that won’t get the exposure that a traditionally published book may get, depending. Whatever you invest in your book–and please, please, God, get your self-published novel looked at by an editor–don’t let the self pub stigma hit you in the face–well…you may never make that investment back.

Writing ain’t easy and neither is publishing or any other kind of art and business mix. So, you know, respect, props, whatever.

Or as we used to say at Emerson College:

“Don’t be a pretentious douche.”

And really, Emersonians know about pretentious douches.

(Or as Krystal calls me, Sunflower Michelle)

7 thoughts on “A Basic Message to Writers

  1. Sunflower Michelle! ^_^ This is awesome! Right, like how hard is it to just let people do their own thing. Yes, please get an editor if you self-publish. Please get a second opinion on something irregardless. But at the end of the day, no one should be bashed for their decision on what route to take. The only thing people need to do is their best. RESPECT!Yeah, let's not be pretentious douches. Let's support each other. Awesomely started. ^_^


  2. Urghhhh yes. I interned at a lit. agency too and it was insane how many mss get rejected. And then they'd make \”maybe\” piles, which made me happy because I was like, \”Ahh! The author of this ms has no idea their work is being more seriously considered!\” But then they'd all get thrown away, and I was like, \”Hmmm. That shows me how high my chances are.\” And it kind of encouraged me to self-pub, actually. Like you, I wanted to go the traditional way, but I am actually very excited about the idea of self-publishing. And I definitely want beta readers to look at my ms, then some more, and then an editor. It's a no brainer. We want our babies fabulous no matter how how we introduce them to the public (self-pub or traditional).


  3. The only thing people need to do is their best. Agreed. The thread started so innocently and then just devolved into mud-slinging…and the mod is the one who escalated it! Yikes! And the more I read of it, the more shake-my-head I felt about it.


  4. The sheer volume of the mss rejected was astounding—and it really showed me at what level my work had to be at, because most of the stuff sent wasn't horrible…it just didn't click or it was the wrong genre or it was down to taste. I won't say that I would NEVER try self-pub, particularly if I want to get a novella or short stories or something out there (if I could ever limit myself in verbiage). I think for something shorter, self-pubbing it to Kindle is the smartest way to go.


  5. It is a fairly simple and accessible alternative (self-pubbing). Why anyone would judge someone for it is ridiculous. In today's world, easy access and mass distribution at the touch of a button makes it more enticing than waiting on the green light from publishers would don't have time to even read your work.Also, it's very likely that many who jump the gun into self-publishing aren't as familiar with targeting folks with marketing campaigns, etc, so likely their audience is relatively small, therefore they may not be as stringent in editing or proofing like professional editors. They will improve though!My first upload to Amazon had some formatting issues, but luckily I had a very loyal and caring friend who pointed this out to me and I was able to fix it before any of the other 30 folks who downloaded it.Be kind to one another. We'll get there, and if not, it's not the end of the world. 🙂


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