One of the first things I ask prospective clients is what their goals are for their manuscripts. Some intend to get their work into the best shape possible, write a killer query letter, and submit to agents. Others mean to try the agent route, but are prepared to self-publish, should they not land an agent or a deal. Still others just want to clean up their stories and get them printed to share with their grandchildren. And some very honest ones admit little to no knowledge of how the publishing process works, and reply, “That’s what I want you to tell me.”
While you’re writing—to a certain extent—it’s important to keep your goals in mind. Quite simply, you can’t achieve a goal unless you have one.
If your goal is a deal with one of the big six publishers, you can’t write an okay query letter and hope for the best. If you want success in self-publishing (and you’ll first need to define what “success” means for you), you need to find the outside help to fill in the gaps in your skill set, be it proofreading, design, or marketing. If you’re excited about presenting a polished story to your grandchild on her birthday, well, then you have one lucky grandchild.
There is something incredible about the fact that we can make certain marks on a sheet of paper or press certain keys to make symbols appear on a screen and thus communicate thoughts, emotions, experiences, stories. If I’ve learned anything as a submissions reader and a conference critic, it’s that every book does indeed have a place, even if it’s not on the bestseller list.
Find your story’s value and audience and be proud of it. Become a better writer in the process.