This past weekend I had the privilege of attending the Hay House Writing from Your Soul workshop with Dr. Wayne Dyer. It was a high-energy, dream-big-like-you-mean-it event with over 500 eager participants ready to live their vision of having a copy of their very own book in their hands.
I gave a little talk about what it means to have an editor, what an editor or ghostwriter has to offer, and how kn literary can help. After the talk, I got a lot of amazing writers approaching me with questions about next steps for their projects.
One question I got several times was this: “If I work with you, will you tell me if my book is…you know…good enough?”
I always had to smile. And sympathize. We all want to know that our work is good enough, don’t we? And absent a professional opinion, it’s pretty hard to get an answer. We can have friends and family read it, but after all–they love us. They may have traveled with us on the very journey we’re writing about. They may have been personally served by the transformational self-help techniques we’re offering on the page.
In other words, it’s hard to know whether to trust them.
What I said in reply to the question “is it good enough?” is the same thing I tell new authors on the phone every day. Ready for it? Here we go: It all depends.
First of all, it depends on what your publishing goals are. Do you want to publish with a traditional publisher? Or do you want to self-publish? The standards are very different.
The most professional version of your manuscript may still not clear the bar to get picked up by a traditional publisher. It depends on your topic, your writing style, and the level of interest in the marketplace. (I won’t even bring up your own marketing platform–that’s a whole different issue!)
What a great editor can do is to help you get your book into the best possible shape it can be in. This is not to be mistaken with the shape a big New York publisher will consider good enough to pay you for. An editor can only work with what we’re given, and the raw materials simply may not be publisher-ready.
If a client wants our honest assessment as to whether their book will clear that bar, we will certainly give it.
More often, we end up working with clients who already know they want to self-publish. This means nobody is going to look at their book and tell them whether it’s “good enough.” They get to be the final arbiter!
In this way, today’s easy road to self-publishing is a blessing. It means that anyone who has a dream of publishing a book can do it. As long as you know how you want to use it in the world–i.e., sell it at your workshops or speaking events, or use it to get a foot in the door with local media, etc.–your book will be a success for YOU. Because you’re the one who gets to decide.
This doesn’t mean you don’t want to get a professional editorial opinion, of course. The founder of WholeLivingJournal.com was at the Hay House conference this weekend, and she told everyone very clearly where poorly edited books go around their office: into the recycling bin. But we’re not here to tell you whether your book is “good enough” or not. We’re here to help you make it the best your book can be.
Which is all anyone can really ask, no?
What about you? Do you want to self-publish or are you aiming for a traditional house? Do you stay up nights wondering if your book will be “good enough”?