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How to Find Out If Your Book Is “Good Enough”

When I was 9 years old, Madonna released the album Like a Virgin.

I had just discovered WZPL, the pop music radio station in my hometown, and I was a Madonna superfan immediately.

Overlooking content that was thematically questionable for the under-10 crowd, my mom bought me the Like a Virgin cassette tape.

I played it over and over and over, day and night. (My little red boom box had never worked so hard.)

I saved up my allowance to buy a poster of the album cover for my wall.

I mined my mom’s junk jewelry drawer, donning layers and layers of necklaces and bracelets. I tied my hair back with a piece of baby-pink lace. I put on my floofiest skirt.

Then I danced and sang my little heart out for whoever would watch or listen. (Cue the deadpan faces of my parents and big sister, who could only feign enthusiasm for so long.)

Because I didn’t just love Madonna. I wanted to be Madonna.

I’m a pretty good singer, but I suffice it to say I don’t have Madonna’s pipes. And given that I was only nine, I also had zero understanding of how the music business worked.

How Madonna’s rise to stardom was a series of massively extraordinary events, one after another.

How scores of other pop singers were working their tails off at that very moment to have her level of fame and fortune, with mixed results.

How Life, for reasons we may never know, had decided to christen Madonna a mega-star above all the rest.

My mom? She knew all this.

(Vaguely, anyway. She was not tracking Madonna in particular, whose sheer genius she did not have the eyes to see. Her ambivalence about the star was the first time in my young life where I began to question my own mother’s sanity and good taste.)

But even as I dreamed bigger than my voice would ever take me, Mom did not let on.

She didn’t say, “You’re not as good as Madonna. And even if you were, you have no idea how much hard work, stamina, and great good fortune would be required to become a superstar like she is. You should focus your attention elsewhere.”


Instead she said, “Let’s sign you up for some performance classes.”
She said, “Let’s get you into the church choir.”
She said, “Why don’t you audition for the school musical, and see what happens?”


I did all of these things, and I enjoyed every minute of them.

Some of my best childhood memories are set at choir camp, in theater classes and—shout out to all the Glee fans—in high school showchoir. (Jazz hands!)

In the course of time, I saw where I fit in the hierarchy of performers. I learned, entirely on my own, that am a better-than-average-but-not-superstar-quality singer; a competent dancer; and a pretty terrible actor.

In other words, I discovered for myself that I am not Madonna.

(Okay fine, Madonna and I might be neck-and-neck in the acting department. Touché.)

The thing was, nobody had to tell me I wasn’t her equal. I learned it on my own, by walking the path of performance.

Looking back, would I exchange all those happy memories of performing, just because I’m not “the best”?

No freaking way.

Fast forward 30+ years and here I am, in the same position my Mom once was, for scores of people who dream of becoming published authors.

They come to me and KN Literary every single day wanting to know, “Am I the transformational writing equivalent of Madonna?”

Sometimes the answer is yes. Sometimes it’s “probably not.” But most of the time, it’s not my job to answer that question.

Authors who are drawn to me and KN Literary are writing for so many reasons other than bestsellerdom.


They’re writing for the joy of it.
They’re writing to heal and grow.
They’re writing to help others, even if their circle of influence is modest.


Following a creative dream is worth the price of admission, no matter if your book gets published or not.


They—perhaps I can just go ahead and say you—are writing because Life wants you to write, the way Life wanted me to sing and dance.

There is no way of knowing, in advance, where your writing adventure will take you.

You simply have to walk the path in front of you. Maybe that will take you toward traditional publishing; great! Maybe it will guide you to self-publish; fab! Either way, you have to make the journey.

See, the outcome is not the thing.

Following your creative dream is worth the price of admission, no matter where you end up.


So today, I say, Let’s sign you up for some writing classes.
I say, Let’s get you a book coach.
I say, Why don’t you enter that writing contest, and see what happens?


Anything else you need to know, Life will most certainly teach you along the way, in perfect timing.

(And, some writers legitimately want more information. They want to know, for example, whether they are a good enough writer to become an author for a living. If this sounds like you, here are three clues to tell if you’re a gifted writer.)



5 thoughts on “How to Find Out If Your Book Is “Good Enough””

  1. I laughed & smiled & reflected on my own childhood growing up watching Madonna (& seeing her in concert in my teens!!!)…I thought about my journey as an aspiring author & my primary role as a mom teaching my 3 teens to believe in themselves as much as I believe in them.

    (My twin girls are graduating from high school with a major in musical theatre & neither pursuing this dream, but neither regrets the memories.)

    I hadn’t had the thought “can I make a career as a writer?” I’ve been assuming all along I cannot. But I want my message to reach help people understand the pain we create when we criticize & judge..

    My dad, an orthopaedic surgeon said to me (after I left my career as an accountant) and shared how I was writing a book — but does that make any money?

    Over the years I’ve learmed that for the vast majority it does not, but it would be nice If it happened to…to pay for all the support I’ve needed to just be a decent writer ?.

    I’ve been more afraid of it just not landing…I’m a mediocre writer..I’m looking up synonyms regularly because I can’t seem to find the words to describe what’s rolling around my mind…

    I’m waiting for the Hay House announcement next month…both excited & terrified if I win. Then the rubber meets the road for all the research & experiences that has been accumulating…

    I’m “hoping for the best, but expecting the worst”..really .just practicing to let go & trust…work on my platform & keep writing..coaching..being of service.

    I know either way I’ll need Chandika !!

    Thx for being part of my book journey & reminding me why I love it so much .. the creative in all of us is pure joy.

    Need to grab those 25 publishers names…?

    Ps enjoying your book bigtime!!!

    • Hi Carolyn!! Thank you for your sweet note…and I am sending you best wishes for the contest! I do think that best and most important function of that contest is that it helps incentivize you to actually get a proposal written, which you did! You have no idea how huge an accomplishment this actually is. So yes, PLEASE do get the 25 publishers list and have it as your Plan B. As for making money on your book, it’s totally possible AND actually likely, if you have some sort of offering that readers can return to you for. Meaning if you offer any coaching or counseling services, workshops, etc. Having a book in the world will fill your calendar/client load if you make offerings like that. Regardless, I’m happy to hear I’m not alone in my Madonna love! Sending you lots of good wishes today. Love+Books, Kelly

  2. Hi Kelly, Your article spoke directly to me – thanks so much for that – I’m really feeling that you ‘get me.’ I’ve sought book-writing advice from several other coaches for whom I have the highest regard, who have helped me along my journey immensely, but sometimes I had the feeling they didn’t understand my motivation for wanting to write a book. At this time in my life I want to write a book for its own sake, for my sake, and I’m not sure why. Not to increase my visability, grow my list, get more clients, or appear on TV. So I’m really looking forward to meeting you in a few days time at your workshop in Kripalu.

  3. I absolutely loved this article. As an independent singer/songwriter and an “about-to-be” self-published author, I resonate so much with it! In my teenage life, I wanted to be like Justin Timberlake, and in the pursuit of that I found my own voice as an artist. I also found so much healing in writing, whether they were songs or Instagram posts, or now, a book! I’m excited for the path ahead and it makes me happy to see that ultimately, as writers, we are all just seeking to heal, grow and expand our consciousness through this medium of art. THANKS for your work, guidance and inspiration! Sending you much love!

    • Love that I wasn’t the only one with dreams of stardom! And so happy to hear that you, like me, found relief and healing in writing. Thank you so much for reaching out, and keep going! Love+Books, Kelly


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