Guest Star: Not Ready For Prime Time

Today's Guest Star post is from Sela Carsen, romance writer and the newest Underlord with the Literary Underworld. She has some wise words about being ready to publish - i.e., not as soon as you think. -ekd

I read a post this morning from a young writer who couldn't understand why no one was buying his book. Pricing was certainly an issue, which he fixed, but he was still puzzled.

I clicked over to the book and read the "Look Inside" feature. Ah. I saw the problem.

He's not ready.

Every author I know wrote for years before we even considered putting our work out for publication. We acknowledged that our first works were not up to par. Their quality was not at a professional level and not ready for publication, but we kept writing. Not publishing, writing. We spent years learning our craft: plotting, characterization, word choices, sentence structure, pacing... honing our most basic grammar and punctuation skills.

And finding your voice? For many of us, that's not a destination we reach once and settle. It can be a lifelong journey of discovery.

This young man said he had taken down and republished his story (book one of five) more than once, acknowledging that even the current version was only about halfway decent. He published a story he knew wasn't ready - wasn't even close to ready. Now, I don't know that any of us are ever 100 percent satisfied with everything we publish, but I also don't know anyone who would put out a book that they feel is only 50 percent ready.

And then expect people to pay for it.

And then come back to buy books 2-5.

I don't know this young man, so I don't know how well he takes direction, or if he's ready to listen to someone tell him that his book is ... not good. Not ready. Not where it needs to be to succeed. But I had so much I wanted to say.

I wanted to tell him to continue writing the next book. And the next one. Write a million words. But don't publish them. Use them as learning tools. With every word he writes, strive to improve. By the time he's written those first million words, he'll be ready. He'll have experience. He'll have picked up a lot of information about the market, and about how to market along the way by hanging out with and learning from other writers doing the same thing he's doing. Learning, striving, and improving.

I wanted to tell him to compare the last 10,000 words of his million words to the first 10,000 of his current work, and he'd see a difference so great that he'd hardly believe he's the same writer.

Based on a review of his work by someone he's acquainted with, he didn't seem open to criticism, so I didn't tell him. Someone else will. Someone he knows better than a stranger on the internet. And he'll either listen or he won't.

But I hope he does eventually heed the voice of experience. I hope eventually he writes a story that changes the world, or at least makes people smile and feel better.

I hope that for all writers.

Sela Carsen was born into a traveling family, then married a military man to continue her gypsy lifestyle. With her husband of 20 years, their two teens, her mother, the dog and the cat, she's finally (temporarily) settled in the Midwest. Between bouts of packing and unpacking, she writes paranormal romances, with or without dead bodies. Her latest works include A Wolf To Watch Over Me and Runespell, both available at as well as Amazon and other fine booksellers.


  1. This is why self-publishing is not the way of the future. Not for unknowns. Not for the amateur. Not for 99.999999% of anyone who is serious about making writing a career. Self-publishing is nifty, and has its uses, but it's not a way for every Tom, Sheila, and Jordan who wrote a book to become rich and famous.


Post a Comment