Don’t Even Think of Publishing Unless You’ve Done These 4 Things



by Rachael Hanel


Whenever I give writing workshops or teach a writing class, I always end with “going from here.” Now that the students have learned something (hopefully!), what do they need to do to get their work published?

I say, don’t even think about publishing until you’ve done the following:

Realize that writing a book is a long process. You’re not going to have something with publishable quality after a few months or a year. You might have a draft in that time, but that’s only the start of the process.

Revise, revise, revise. My memoir went through seven drafts. When I talk to writing friends, I think I got off easy. I know people who have gone through 12, 17, even 20+ drafts before their books were published. Generally, the edits get fewer and the process goes faster the deeper you get into it, but even so, revising an entire book takes time and effort.

-Get feedback. You cannot write in a vacuum. You need other eyes on your writing, people who will say what works and what doesn’t work and what you need to add/subtract. Ideally, these are people who know their stuff–published authors with credentials whom you can trust. Where do you find these people? Many authors will do manuscript reviews as a side job. If they offer those services it’s usually mentioned on their websites. Almost any author will consider doing this work if you pay them.

Take writing classes. The Loft is always a great resource for writing instruction. It offers both in-person and online classes. You can also check your local college/university. Look for free or reduced-fee classes or workshops at libraries and community centers.

I’ve served on several review panels over the years that evaluate writers’ work. I’m looking for evidence of realistic goals and a commitment to the craft. If writers incorporate the tips above into their writing practices, they are going to be in a much better position to find success.





Guest post contributed by Rachael Hanel. Rachael is a writer and teacher in “flyover” country, Minnesota. She’s the author of We’ll Be the Last Ones to Let You Down: Memoir of a Gravedigger’s Daughter, published in 2013 by the University of Minnesota Press, and was a finalist for a Minnesota Book Award.

15 thoughts on “Don’t Even Think of Publishing Unless You’ve Done These 4 Things

  1. Do I need a writing class if I already have a Bachelors in English? I know that might sound like a stupid question but writing a paper is different than writing a book. And though I studied Shakespeare and Chaucer as well as English literature, I also took a creative writing class while getting my Masters Degree in History because I wanted the practice and it taught me a lot about the publishing world. Thought I’d ask the question before someone else did. I never get tired of learning. ☺️

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Great advice. 🙂 It’s taken me almost 3 years to get to the point I am, but what do you do if you can’t seem to find a market for it? I have sent out query letters, but one person told me, in so many words, that I was wasting my time. The others, I never heard back from. I gave up earlier this year and just posted it online. Maybe it just wasn’t meant to be?

    I guess what I am saying, is “When is it okay to give up and move on?”


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