I got this question in my mailbox last week and I thought it was such a good one that I had to make an article out of it. Loads of authors decide to share their work online before they even finish the book. Websites like Wattpad are a great source of comments, critiques and even tells you if your book would be popular or not. It is not surprising that many authors decide to dip their toes into the water and try their book out on these platforms. But how will publishers and agents react when they find out? Will they reject the book because of this?
No… yes… it depends…and here is why.
YES : Your book will change ( a lot )
The book that is being submitted to the agent or publisher and the book that is being published will never ever be the same. Even more : most books by first time authors need so much editing that the end result will by no means look like the end result. Obviously you will have to delete the copies of the book you have published online for free after you sign the deal.
2. DEPENDS : The market needs to be right
I know a lot of authors feel that they are being ignored and that their book should deserve a chance in the sun. But if we are reasonable, we see that the publishing business is just that : a business. And just like all other businesses they need to make money. Making money on a book depends on a few factors and of course talent, story and marketing play a big role but we cannot disregard the current market. You will probably have noticed the rise in contemporary pornographic novel after the success of Fifty Shades or the immense pile of historical conspiracy novels that were churned out after Dan Brown’s heist of the sales figures. Everything has to do with how your book and story can be positioned on the market. If you book fits in the current ” wave”, you will have a big chance, if it isn’t…
3. NO : Cost of editing
I touched on this subject very lightly before : a lot of books that are thrown online need extensive editing. Some authors think they are done after wrapping up the story and uploading it to amazon… well. Just like every career and business you need to invest in quality. In this case the quality will come from your editor. It is very important to get an editor to clean up the novel, to take out all the mistakes, the potholes ( copy editor ) and nonsensical passages and sentences. Whenever you put ANYTHING online you want it to be the BEST it can be. A lot of publishers will look at the editing process and how heavily the book needs to be edited. I have written more about this here.
4. YES : If you turn it into a benefit…
You can always try to turn things into a benefit : You can show them how popular your book is and how great people think it is. But obviously… you need editing, a great cover and marketing.
Publishers want to play safe, they want to know a book will succeed when they sign the author. This is why authors that have serious best sellers on Amazon will often get contracts. Make it into a positive : get people to read your book and show agents and publishers that people will actually read your book !
I hope this will help you on your journey of publishing your novel. If you have any other questions you can always send me an email or comment on this article!