They are all VERY different things.
Having published two books, sent a third off to beta readers (more on that soon), and studied Creative Writing, I’ve had to get good at knowing when my work is ready to share with people.
Sometimes it’s a case of the book is ready, but you’re not.
In that situation, you need two things: moral support and tough love.
The moral support can be provided by a friend, family member, or significant other.
And here’s your dose of tough love: get on with it!
Nobody will submit your work for you (or they shouldn’t, anyway—you’ll never get used to it if other people do it for you), but there’s nothing wrong with having a friendly face to give you an ego boost.
The longer we dwell on a task we don’t want to do, the more we increase our anxiety. If this goes on for long enough, it could result in a full-on panic attack.
On the other hand, if you get it over with—like ripping off a strip of wax from a very hairy leg—it’s over with quickly. Then, relief.
But you won’t get that feeling of relief if you don’t hit publish.
So how do you know when your book is ready?
When your book is ready for an editor/beta readers
When you feel that there’s nothing more you can do to your book, that’s when it’s time to submit it to an editor and/or beta readers.
Other people will always be able to pick up on things you never thought of, so you must always, ALWAYS show your book to someone else before heading towards publication.
If you’re early on in your writing career, it’s worth getting a developmental edit. While these are more expensive, developmental edits give you in-depth feedback about how you can improve. And there will ALWAYS be things you can improve on.
Beta readers won’t be as in-depth, but it’s worth sharing your book with them as they should be part of your target audience, and therefore able to give you useful feedback.
When your book is ready for self-publication
The biggest difference between self-published books and traditionally published books is that there are fewer hoops to jump through before you can share your work with readers when you self-publish.
However, a self-published book should be just as polished as a traditionally published one, if not more so.
It’s your responsibility to design an epic cover and write compelling copy for your blurb, which means that you also have less time for writing, and just because your manuscript is ready, that doesn’t mean the rest of your book is.
Your book should also be proofread—preferably by someone else—to pick up an as many typos as possible. The more we read our work the more we read what we think it says, not what it actually says, and the less likely we are to pick up on typos.
When your book is ready for an agent
When there’s nothing else you, your editor, or your beta readers can think of to improve on, that’s when your book is ready for you to submit to an agent.
If you’re fortunate enough to get an agent, they WILL suggest edits. Chances are that you will have to do those edits in order for them to accept you.
The same may apply when you get a publisher — they may accept your book under the condition that you make certain changes.
Publishers are all about making money, so if they feel that a different angle will appeal to an audience more, they will want you to go down that route instead.
If you don’t want to make these changes or want more control over the end product, self-publication might be a better option for you.
Is your book ready?
To truly know when your book is ready, you have to be able to separate yourself—personally, professionally, emotionally—from it.
When you can truly view your book objectively, then you will be able to make an informed decision about when your book is ready to send to an editor, beta readers, to self-publish, or submit to an agent.
There won’t be a flashing neon sign to notify you that your book is ready.There's no flashing neon sign to let you know that your book is ready to share with people. Click To Tweet
You must learn to trust yourself.
How did you know when your book is ready?
How did you know your book was ready to unleash on the world? I’d love to hear your experiences in the comments below!