The Key to Knowing if You're Ready for Publication

By Jody Hedlund, @JodyHedlund

My oldest is graduating from high school. So I'm in the midst of planning a big graduation party for him. I'm not super creative when it comes to parties (apparently I use up all my creativity in my stories!). So our party will be pretty standard without a lot of bells and whistles--in the back yard with coolers of soda, tables of dessert and appetizers, etc.
My graduating senior!
One of the most asked questions I get about my son's graduation is, "Are you sad to see him go?" Since I try to be transparent, I usually respond, "No, actually I'm ready and so is he."

I've spent 18 years of my life preparing him for this point. I've poured out my heart, energy, time, resources, and many times even my tears into raising him. Was I perfect? Absolutely not. I made many mistakes.

Let's face it, parenting is confusing and hard and filled with uncertainties. We ask ourselves over and over as we set boundaries and make decisions, "Am I doing the right thing?"

We wouldn't question ourselves so much if we didn't love our children deeply and have their best interests at heart. We teach, train, and discipline them with the hope that one day they'll be able to stand on their own two feet with all the values, skills, and character qualities that they'll need to take their place in the world.

Nevertheless, no matter how hard we try to be good parents, our children are their own individuals with their own minds, dreams, and plans. They eventually have to take flight. And eventually we have to let them.

As writers, we face the challenge of letting go of our stories. We pour our hearts, energy, time, resources, and even tears into our books. We watch our stories take shape and grow. We're filled with uncertainties and ask ourselves continually if we're doing the right thing. We subject our stories to feedback and criticism with the hope that they will one day have what it takes to stand on their own.

Just like parenting, there are some writers who can let go, maybe even too easily. And others of us perhaps cling too tightly to our stories. How do we learn to have a healthy balance of not seeking publication too soon but also not letting fear hold us back from taking the next step?

The key in writing, like parenting, is: Preparation.

I've done all I  can to prepare my son to leave home. I've attempted to teach him to cook, do laundry, clean, manage his money, be responsible, have manners, etc. Notice I said, attempted. He's definitely not perfect (or even close to it!) in all areas. He has a lot of room for growth, and don't we all?

However, in spite of his short falls, he's a great kid, determined, and a hard worker. He's equipped to take the next step.

If we're struggling to know whether we're ready for publication, we need to ask ourselves: Have we spent enough time preparing? Maybe we don't need 18 years, but certainly we can't expect to be ready overnight. Have we learned necessary writing skills and techniques? Have we practiced them over and over? Have we taken the time and energy to learn all we can about the industry?

Maybe we won't be perfect. Maybe we still have room to improve, after all we're all still growing. But if we've attempted to do all we can to learn and grow, then we're likely ready to take the next step in our writing career.

My encouragement for writers seeking publication is this: We shouldn't rush to publish too early before we're ready. It may lead to undue frustrations which can take away the joy of writing. But we also can't let fear hold us back. At some point, after we've put in the time and effort, we can wisely and cautiously begin the process of seeking publication.

With enough preparation, hopefully we'll be able to say with confidence, "I'm ready and so is my book."

How do you think writers can tell if they're ready for publication? Are you rushing in to publication too soon? Or are you letting fear hold you back?


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