This is a reactionary blog post inspired by friend and fellow author Cari Z, in regards to publishing. The one thing that hit home for me was her saying that when an author sends out a work to a publisher, yes, that publisher is evaluating your work, but so is the author evaluating the publisher in regards to their professionalism, how they edit, sell, and promote your work, and so forth.
This is the thing.
Not many really come clean with this, but let's face it. The publishing industry is NOT what it used to be, for better and for worse. This digital age now allows authors to have OPTIONS which is something that just didn't exist back in the day. Nowadays, there's self-publishing. The traditional route of finding a publisher and that publisher publishing and promoting your work isn't the only way. These days, authors (self-publishers especially) can (and really have to be) publisher, self-promoter, cover artist, editor, and so forth. This is a wonderful thing, naturally, since it allows authors to have more options and to not be limited by just one route and one route only. For a lot of authors, that balancing/juggling act is where they thrive. But for many of us still, we want and trust our work to be in the hands of a publisher who will have the proper editing team, cover artist, proofreader, and so forth to make our work as polished as it can be with their help. It takes a whole team to create a book. More than that, the publisher must take the time to work with the author to ensure that the finished product is the best it can be. When a publisher doesn't have high standards for this, it is not only unprofessional, but it is a disservice to the author and publisher to not hold up to those standards.
I will admit this, lovelies, that the reason why I've sent out my work to so many publishers (big and small, mainstream and indie) is because I don't believe in putting all your eggs in one basket. Unfortunately, not all publishers are created equal, and not all publishers work out. Like all businesses, there's always a chance that they'll "go under." Some go out of business for whatever reason, or some are just going under because they aren't professional and don't care to keep their business in order. I've been there, done that, with all this, so this is nothing new for me. I always have back up publishers to send my works to for just in case these scenarios happen. It can happen to any publisher, no matter how big or small they are (with the latter, though, it's especially common).
My only advice with publishing is that, folks, first of all, don't rush. It's OKAY to take your time. I know we live in a day and age where everyone is so hell bent on publishing as much as possible for money, fame, and in the name of being prolific and bulking up their bio. This drive, though awesome, can be detrimental. Don't rush a manuscript just for the sake of putting it out there or sending it out to a publisher. Don't word count chase; yes, as authors, we do this, and yes, it feels great, the more words the merrier, but at the end of the day, quantity does not equal quality. Take your time and do your best, and be proud of your work no matter if you feel that it's worth publishing, or something that is better to be left scrapped/shelved despite all the hopes, hard work, and love that was put into it. Some works just aren't meant to be published, and that's okay, as long as you had fun doing it. I think intuitively, you'll know which work is realistically publishable, and which ones aren't. I've been there, done that, too, with no regrets. Do your research on the publisher. Not that I'm saying stalk them on their Facebook page(s) or Twitter, but just keep an eye out on how they promote their books and how seriously they take their authors. It's pretty easy to tell which publishers truly take pride in their books/authors versus those who make it obvious that it's not a top priority. Don't jump onto any publisher; it's okay to be picky or selective. It doesn't make you a diva. It just means that you care about your work and don't want it to be with a publisher who doesn't care about it as much as you do.
The biggest advice I can give is really, folks, have fun. Don't take it all so seriously, meaning like, yes, take your craft seriously, work hard, learn, and keep evolving/growing in your art, make new friends along the way, keep things classy with your editors, publishers, and readers, but remember, it's writing, and the essence of it is rooted in imagination and fun. Don't lose sight of that! As long as you're having fun, and your readers are having fun too, then well, that's the greatest, isn't it?