When Are You Ready to Publish?



by Amie Gibbons

Today I was telling a girl at work how scared I am to be publishing.  My first story comes out on Sunday and I’m freaking out, I told her.  She was sweet, saying I’d be fine, and then she said something that threw me.  They wouldn’t be publishing you if you weren’t ready.


See, I learned pretty quickly to say Gremlin Publishing is publishing me instead of I’m publishing myself.  And when people ask who that is, I say it’s an Independent Publisher.  Because the lay person doesn’t know Indie is a legit way to self publish.  It was in passing so I didn’t correct her and say there was no they, I was the they.

But it does raise another big problem with indie publishing (besides the perception of illegitimacy I talked about last week).

When are you ready to publish?

A great thing about traditional pub is you have someone else making the call for you that you’re ready to be published.  If you have to decide for yourself, well, how do you know?

I found some guidelines online, from many different sites and over time so forgive me for not citing my sources like a good lawyer 🙂

  1. When you’ve had it line edited by a professional (that doesn’t mean you have to pay them–it can be a beta reader who does it well, but they better be damn good)
  2. When your beta readers come back with tiny nitpicky things, because there’s no big story flaws for them to go after so they can get to the details.
  3. When people read it and the overall response is it’s a good story.  They may come back and say you need someone to line edit, or you could change this way of wording, or you said her eyes were brown here and then changed them to blue, but they don’t have much to critique on the overall structure of the story.  If people come back to you and say the beginning is slow, fix it and accept at least that story isn’t ready.  (Trust me, chop it at least in half because if your betas are saying it’s slow, most readers won’t get past the preview to consider buying it.) If they’re saying you need more fight at the end, fix it.  That’s the climax and shouldn’t leave them unsatisfied.
  4. When people read it and say they either loved or hated (or both at once!) the characters.  Because that means you have strong enough characters for people to say something about them.

Basically, you want people to be so wrapped up in the story they can’t say much about it.  Good writing and good story structure don’t call attention to themselves.  They merely are.  But characters are ones (at least in the character driven books I like) you want people to have a ton to say about since strong characters are what keep people coming back.

Those are some general guidelines.  Happy writing!



Guest post courtesy of Amie Gibbons. She is a lawyer/writer/science geek who blogs about writing, legal tidbits, and fiction pieces. Check out more of her writing on her blog.

24 thoughts on “When Are You Ready to Publish?

  1. Great post! All guidelines I try to abide by myself. I send it to betas when I know it’s not ready, but I can’t quite pinpoint what’s wrong. A lot of it is also trusting your gut, letting it sit for awhile, and then going back to it with fresh eyes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A general rule of thumb is if 3 betas say the same thing then you probably want to listen. Take what that one said and weigh it against what other ones say. That’s just one person’s opinion.


  2. Thanks for sharing that Linda. Those are good indicators that our work may need a little revising. There still seems to be some misconceptions with self publishing. I’ve read numerous articles saying there’s nothing wrong with putting our names in our books as the publishers, and that majority of the time, readers aren’t looking for who’s the publisher, they basically want a good story. Wishing you much success. 🙂


  3. I totally understand where you’re coming from, Amie!

    I’ve just hit the PUBLISH button for the early preview to my new mystery book. Doesn’t seem to matter how many times you’ve gone over your work, there will probably always been jitters to a greater or lesser extent.

    I’m a self-confessed tweaker, too, so there’s always that nagging feeling that there’s room to improve upon things.

    At the end of the day, though, I hope you’ll pat yourself on the back for every leap you take. At least when you get older you won’t be living with regret!

    Liked by 1 person

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