Feeling directionless? Is my novel ready for editing and self-publishing?

editing_for_authors
Editing for authors: because every writer needs a good editor.

LilyCookie

Registered
Joined
Feb 10, 2014
Messages
16
Reaction score
0
I recently finished my manuscript that I've been working on for several years. I sent it to 30 or so agents and didn't receive any positive replies, so I thought, alright, I'll self-publish. I understand not everything is for the mainstream market, and I started searching for a good developmental editor. While I've gotten some quotes and do have choices on who to go with, though I'm struggling between choosing one of them, one editor replied with something along the lines of, "Your novel doesn't sound interesting, and it probably belongs on Wattpad." (She did not write it quite like that, but she did mention Wattpad.)

Obviously, I believe my novel has potential even if it'll never be mainstream, but her comment implying there isn't a place even in the self-published market for my novel has made me begin to worry. I don't want to pay for developmental editing if my novel in its current state is so bad especially since most of the editors I'm looking at are charging per round separately. I'm not sure if I should just keep on trying to work on the novel myself, or if there's a service where I can work with an editor until my novel is publishable rather than paying per round, if that makes sense.
 
Last edited:

mccardey

wear a mask
Kind Benefactor
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Feb 10, 2010
Messages
15,080
Reaction score
6,747
Location
Australia.
Congratulations on having reached the end of early-drafting, at least - a lot of people never get there! It does sound, though, as though there is still some work (perhaps polishing, but perhaps structural) to be done.

Try not to rush into a publish-or-trunk frame of mind. You've worked hard to get this far - honour the work by keeping faith with the novel itself.

And although self-publishing might be the way to go if a novel has a small readership, it's definitely not a good response to hearing that there's still work to be done.

Maybe put it aside for a little while, and then get extra eyes on it.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Set2Stun

VeryBigBeard

Preparing for winter
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jan 24, 2014
Messages
2,098
Reaction score
696
Personally, I think you've skipped a step in the process in that, if you're not getting bites from agents you should:

a.) Get your query letter critiqued--writing one is a skill that has to be learned and it can make a big difference. There's a forum here for that which has helped many people over the years; as with any Share Your Work forum on AW, you'll need 50 substantive posts to put up your own query. The best way, by far, to get these is by critiquing other people's queries. Do spend some time deep-diving on the stickies as well, as they're jam-packed with resources.

b.) Revise the MS. Thirty agents isn't that many. It depends a bit on genre, but for any of the major genres (including literary) a good list can easily top 100 agents, give or take, and their genre guidelines shouldn't be read too exclusively. You do want to make sure you target the agent(s) who you think would be a good fit, but you don't want to be too exclusive. Aim high, but be open-minded, too.

Resist the urge to jump to self-publishing as a last resort. Self-publishing is its own thing, and there's a forum here full of people who have done it successfully and full of information on how to approach it. General thinking (it's not something I've done myself) is it's a huge amount of work, and better pursued because you want to target a specific market, or want a bit more control of the full process, and such.

The best way to sell one book, either in the trade or as a self-publisher, is usually to write another book.

In terms of editing, this is a good thread on some things to ask an editor. Notice that these questions go well beyond price. EDIT: I realize I just referred you to a copy-editing thread. Here's another one with external links to resources on other types of editing as well.

Again personally, any freelance editor who's making subjective comments about where your book belongs in the market is overstepping professional bounds, and isn't someone I'd trust to edit the book well. Some of this stuff is subjective, and editors are under no obligation to work on any book they don't want to--it may have been this editor was trying to let you down gently--but marketing is marketing and editing is editing. If you're hiring them, it's because they have expertise is the latter.

Remember always that rejection is not a judgment on the work. Just because some agents sent you form rejections or an editor didn't want to take a project on doesn't mean the project is unmarketable or niche or anything like that. It really depends. At some level, you're the one who will know best. Sometimes really great books don't get published. Sometimes people write the wrong book. Sometimes people query too early.

Rather than paying for an editor, it sounds like you might be more in need of a critique partner or beta-reader to help give you some ideas, confidence, and direction. AW has a forum for that, too--again, note you'll need 50 posts. It may just be you need to do another draft or two and really find the core of the story you're trying to tell.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: Set2Stun

Woollybear

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Nov 27, 2017
Messages
5,141
Reaction score
1,455
Location
USA
The comment about wattpad may have come from a financial place, from that editor, as some authors in the past have done quite well through wattpad.

See for example:

https://www.booktrust.org.uk/news-a...-to-a-publishing-deal-six-wattpad-sensations/

It doesn't mean the editor thought you weren't 'good enough to self publish' but that she might have been trying to suggest additional possibilities.

The advice upthread is all good, and there are many paths up the typewriter.
 

JohnLine

Owns a pen.
Kind Benefactor
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jun 18, 2011
Messages
427
Reaction score
74
Location
Burbank, California
There's a great beta-swap sub-forum here (after you have the requisite 50 posts). I just finished a 112k novel, and thanks to betas, I'm already planning a big revision (hopefully I can trim the word count in the process).
 

Krampus Nacht

St. Nicholas and Krampus