OK, so you've written pretty much on and off your whole life. You have researched, written, then rewritten (maybe for years) your first manuscript. Facts have been verified and properly credited. How do you know if you're good enough to get published?
In order to get published, a writer has to do something well. And in order to write something that the reader will hold onto, a writer must believe in his product. That belief shines through the work, and the reader becomes a believer. The writer has put in the time and effort, and has been validated.
No one writes his best on the very first draft. It helps to read it aloud, to himself or others. That's where a writer's group or critique group comes in. After all, his wife and kids all thought it would be a best-seller! A group will give input and tips on general improvements to make. In the case of nonfiction, a pro who is knowledgable in the subject should look it over.
I am a newly-published author (MINOR LEAGUE MOM: A MOTHER'S JOURNEY THROUGH THE RED SOX FARM TEAMS). Obviously, I knew my subjects intimately (my two sons) and my research involved the seven years that my husband and I followed them through the minor league system, from the rookie team through AAA (baseball's highest level). I kept journals as I watched. I collected all the newspaper articles from the towns we were in, and programs from games, etc., etc. When I finished my manuscript, I networked to find a sportswriter to read it.
After calling/emailing literally hundreds of people I knew and didn't know, I was lucky to find a published author/sportswriter who was also a reader for a literary agent in Boston. He agreed to edit my manuscript (my first truly objective reader). When he'd finished the manuscript and we went over the suggested revisions, he declared, "You've got to publish this!" That was my first real validation.
I sought a second one. I rewrote the manuscript, making many (but not all) of the revisions my paid editor had recommended. The second opinion was from a sportswriter for The Providence Journal (another published author). He perused the first fifty pages of my manuscript and told me I had a unique story to tell and a readable one. I had been validated twice!!
During the following eighteen months, I tried to find a literary agent to represent me (dealing in sports memoirs, of course). I collected a folder of rejection letters. It was a "Catch-22." No agent wanted to take a chance on a first-time author, but no new author can get published if an agent isn't willing to take that chance! During all this, I continued to believe in my story and in my writing.
I decided not to self-publish. My "Plan B" consisted of soliciting independent publishers from Maine to Florida. Luckily, I found New River Press in Woonsocket, R.I., which had formed a new imprint division called Barking Cat Books for first-time New England authors. I had a literary contract attorney look at the contract, then I signed. I sent the manuscript and all necessary photos, dedication, footnotes, and bibliography, electronically to the publisher. He in turn sent it to his editor electronically.
Over the course of three months, I received only three emails from the editor, while the publisher was in constant touch with her. I had heard stories of the great relationship editors develop with their writers! Not in my case. She kept us waiting until the last possible minute before returning the edited galleys. We almost missed our printing deadline. And she had cut practically nothing!!
Once again, I was validated. In the end, it meant a much longer book, since we were hoping the editor would direct me in consolidating parts of the saga. Since she didn't, we went with the manuscript almost exactly as I had submitted it.
My book has sold half of its first printing (1,500 copies)in seven months, and I am still doing book signings and presentations at libraries, book stores, and clubs. MINOR LEAGUE MOM has taken on a life of its own, and certainly overtaken mine! Who would have thought that I was good enough for all this?
- Delray Beach, FL, Westport, MA, United States
- Undergraduate degree, Colby College; MA in teaching, Columbia Teacher's College; former high school English teacher in three states; former owner of interior design co. with advanced degree from R.I. School of Design. Published first book in 2009 titled, MINOR LEAGUE MOM: A MOTHER'S JOURNEY THROUGH THE RED SOX FARM TEAMS. Her humorous manuscript titled ELDERLY PARENTS WITH ALL THEIR MARBLES: A SURVIVAL GUIDE FOR THE KIDS was published in June, 2014. In 2015 A SURVIVAL GUIDE won a gold medal in the self-help category at the Florida Authors & Publishers Association conference. See website By CLICKING HERE.