November 30, 2009
Wow November went by quickly. Let's assume that you reached your goal (yesterday's blog post was addressed to those of you who didn't).
Congratulations. That's huge. I'm proud of you and so happy for you. Now, what are you going to do with what you've written?
You could decide to do nothing with it. Your goal was to write and you've written. Sharing it is a whole other ball game. Not only that but most novelists will tell you about several books they have started that they had to put down because it just wasn't working out. This is hard for those who have written a bunch of books—it's even harder if it's your first book.
Look at the chapters you've written. Maybe you can continue to shape them into a book or maybe you should set them down and start fresh on another project now that you know more about yourself and about writing.
If you want to do something with it, the simplest thing might be to use your writing as blog posts. Before you share your writing with anyone realize that people can be really harsh. Even if you post it to your blog and give it away for free, there are people who will make comments that come out of left field or are hurtful.
You might have something between a blog and a book. Maybe you want to shape it into a pdf and distribute it on your own or post it to a site that has a community of people interested in your topic.
You might have a book on the way but you don't want to work with a publisher. You can self-publish or use a site like Lulu. At the minute you cross the line into charging for your work, some of your readers will look at your work differently. Even if you aren't making any money off of your work, they have paid for it. They have expectations of you—and they aren't all good.
If you've chosen a topic that we might publish, feel free to submit it to us. Submissions for our mainline Pragmatic Bookshelf titles should be sent to email@example.com and those for our Pragmatic life series should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. In any case, please read What we are looking for first.
We tend to respond more quickly than most publishers. Our most common reasons for rejecting a proposal have nothing to do with you. We often think a submitted book would be a great book—just not the sort of book we publish. Many times we don't see a market for the book in our existing audience and we're not sure how to reach the people your book would deserve to reach.
Sometimes it is you or your book. We just aren't sold on an idea and we look at that as a warning sign. If we're not getting the kernel of the book how will we explain it to our readers? I would suggest you do what movies do and create a log line. A short catchy sentence on what the book is and who it's for.
Maybe you want to submit your PragProWriMo book to one of our competitors. Cool. We want to see good books get published. Just because a book isn't right for us to publish doesn't mean it isn't a book we'd love to read. We think there are compelling reasons for writing for us but we know that different authors have different needs and we're not right for everyone.
Whether you end up signing with us or with one of our competitors, you probably have a lot of work left to do on your book. With us a development editor will work with you to help shape your story and get the best out of you. I recently edited a book that the author brought to me in a state that he thought was complete. We worked many months through many drafts to get it to the state where we were all happy with his work. It is still his voice, it is still his book, but it is much improved by the comments of tech reviewers, the copy editor, the indexer, the typesetter, Dave and Andy, and me.
Let me know what you decide to do. I hope this month has been a good experience for you and I hope these daily blog posts have been helpful. In the meantime I wrote 80 pages for my book. I'm pretty happy right now.
This post originally appeared in the Pragmatic Life blog.