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How do you know when you're ready to self publish?

A question I am often asked is, When does an author know they are coming close to reaching their dream of becoming a published author? The answer is usually when that writer gets half page or full page rejection letters offering suggestions and/or flaws.

I once received a rejection letter that went for a page and a half. I didn't get disheartened, instead I saw this as a sign that this editor saw "something" worth his time to write the page and a half reply. He could have sent his usual "no thanks". This level of rejection can also mean that what you are submitting is simply not what they're buying at the moment. Agents and editors are people too and they suffer from fatigue like normal people. I'm talking about market fatigue.

Vampires, paranormal, magic, fantasy, zombies, Vikings, science fiction, contemporary fiction...every time the market is flooded with one type of book, editors get flooded with submissions of one type of book. It's natural that they never want to see that type of book again.

But if your manuscript is marketable, shouldn't a publisher want to publish it? I hear you ask. A good question. Some of my rejection letters read like this:

...we often are not able to take on clients who merit publication. While I believe that your ideas might have market appeal, I am not convinced that we could represent it successfully at this time...

...Out of necessity, we are frequently forced to pass by material which shows potential.  We recognize that in doing so we miss opportunities to represent fine and worthwhile material, but we also trust that if you persist you will eventually connect with the right agent at the right time for your success...

Every day editors reject work they believe has market appeal and potential, but rather than authors taking this to mean that their work isn't publishable, they may need to consider that even if readers want to read what is currently out in the marketplace, editors simply want something else. Look at it this way; if you get potatoes shoved at you every day and then someone gives you an apple, what's going to light up your eyes?

So when does a writer know they are ready to self publish? One indicator might be when the traditional avenue fails yet the rejection letters are peppered with words such as "market appeal" and "potential".

I began considering self publishing my young adult paranormal romance after receiving this rejection:

...I'm getting feedback about paranormal fatigue from a lot of YA editors...

I love the story I submitted, and so did my advance readers, and while self publishing has lost its stigma, and while many self published novels have made it to the New York Times bestsellers lists, there is still a certain appeal to having a novel published through a publisher. Even though editors are suffering paranormal fatigue, I can't give up on this novel, especially not after a friend pointed out to me the other day that paranormal is what I write. She also pointed out that I have fans who already know my style so I can't change it. She's right. Thanks Kylie. How can a writer change what they write simply because editors want to read something else? I have to stick to my chosen genre and write what I write because trying to write to the market is like trying to lick your elbow with your tongue - it's impossible.

Stay tuned for more news about this self published project.


D L Richardson is the author of speculative fiction. She has three teen novels and one short story anthology published. Her first novel reached number 2 at OmniLit and number 38 at Kobo Books. Her second reached number 1 at OmniLit. Little Red Gem is her third novel and recently won 2nd place Best Books of 2013 Paranormal Cravings. She lives in Australia on the NSW south coast with her husband and dog.

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