Is My Book Publishable? Is Not the Real Question
By Lauren Carr
“Is my book publishable?” Not a month goes by that I am not asked that or “Is my book good enough to get the notice of a literary agent or big publisher in New York?” or “If I were to publish my book myself, will it become a best-seller? Will I make a million dollars? Will Hollywood come knocking?”
As an author, former editor, and publisher, I can’t answer any of these questions. My inability to answer is not because I don’t know if a book has problems that will keep it from becoming a hit—it’s because the answer lies in the writer himself.
Let me explain:
“Is my book publishable?” I can answer that without even reading a word of it. The answer is yes. Nowadays, any book can be published. Good, bad, or ugly. You can self-publish (been there), or do-it-yourself (been there, too), or you can even do it the traditional way (done that). There are publishing models that can fit any author based on their own needs and preferences.
Ask yourself if you want total artistic and legal control of your book or would it be better for you to have a traditional publisher who will purchase your rights and do everything for you?
Like many readers, I have scratched my head over books that I did not consider to be great literary pieces, or even well written, that have found traditional publishers. So yes, if you are determined to sell your rights to a traditional publisher, I have no doubt that you can find a publisher who would buy it. It is simply a matter of time and effort in finding one—which means perseverance.
Literally, no book is not publishable. The true question, what the writer really wants answered is—Can their book be successful after it is published?
That answer lies in the writer’s response to this question: Are you determined and dedicated enough to your writing career to make your book a best-seller? Many authors fail to realize that it has nothing to do with who their publisher is, or maybe even the book’s quality.
There’s the story of Stephanie Bond, who was with the big houses in New York. She was already a best-selling author. Her publisher would take her books out of print after so long, just when she thought that they were gaining an audience. She got back the rights for each of those books. (Yep, she had to work to get those rights back to the very books she wrote.) Then, she decided to re-release them, via self-publishing, along with a book that her publisher had turned down three times. She still has contracts for some books. Her self-published titles are outselling the traditional titles and her best-selling book is the one the publisher had turned down—three times!
Also, I have read books by unknown authors that I thought were good enough to be award winners. Yet, those books have failed to gain an audience and sit untouched on Amazon.
So, to answer your question: If your book was released (either self-published or traditional) will it be a success? That is completely up to you. Look at Stephanie Bond again. When her books were taken out of print, she had the initiative to re-release them on her own and turn them into best sellers.
Why are those books that I have read and considered to be great literary pieces sitting unknown on Amazon and failing to find an audience—it’s because their authors are not promoting them. There’s a variety of reasons for this. They don’t want to invest the money, time, and effort of a virtual book tour. They’re too intimidated to learn the ropes of the Internet. They’re scared of reviewers.
I have actually had two authors at separate times tell me that they did not want strangers reading and reviewing their books. Then, in the next breath ask me why they aren’t selling. (Don’t ask me why they bothered publishing their books if they didn’t want strangers reading them. I have nothing to offer to answer that question.)
So, when you ask me. “Is my book is publishable? Can it be a best seller?” My question to you is, “Do you want it to be a best-seller?”
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